Birthday Musings: The Great Birthday Serenade

Traditionally, I have not been a tremendous fan of celebrating my birthday. The historic lack of friends, money, and the inability to drink likely sapped whatever enjoyment might have otherwise been derived from a big birthday bash. This year, however, my circumstances appear to have taken a favorable deviation, with a planned two-part birthday celebration. Wait, two parts? The introvert anticipates a measure of mild discomfort.

For the first part, we take the birthday bash on the road, journeying to Medici’s, my favorite local jazz club, for wine, fellowship and a tribute to the First Lady of Song, Ella Fitzgerald, in her centennial year.

We are truly blessed in Hawaii with a vibrant and tremendously talented music and performing arts community. It has been a real joy, and a bit of a surprise, to weasel my way into the good graces of this crowd, notwithstanding an absolute devoid of musical and theatrical talent. I instead brought to the group the only items I had readily available: wine and my wife’s baking. Apparently, that was more than sufficient.

Shari Pays Tribute to Lady Ella

Medici’s played host to the Shari Lynn Trio for a night belonging to Lady Ella. Medici’s, an intimate setting that weekly showcases local and visiting jazz artists, was recently voted best jazz venue in Honolulu. A large salad and entrée bar, BYOB (there is also a bar, should you find yourself in need), and quality jazz. I’m sold. And when the Shari Lynn Trio is on the docket, I make certain to clear my calendar.

Shari Lynn (vocals) accompanied by Jim Howard (piano) and John Kolivas (bass)

The incomparable Shari Lynn

Wine, as always, was plentiful.  Buckley Cellars contributed a 2013 Les Pensées de Pallus Cabernet Franc and a 2014 Buil & Giné, Giné Giné Garnacha blend. So how well did they pair with cake and crooners?

2013 Domaine de Pallus Chinon Les Pensées de Pallus, available at Fujioka's Wine Times in Honolulu

Bordeaux Blending Grape Captures the Spotlight in Chinon

Winemaker Bertrand Sourdais, a native of Chinon in the Loire Valley of France, rose to prominence in the wine world through his work at Dominio de Atauta, in the Ribera del Duero Denominación de Origen just south of Rioja. After oenology studies in Bordeaux and crafting his expertise abroad, Bertrand returned home to Cravant-les-Côteaux, in the heart of Chinon, to take over the family estate of Le Domaine de Pallus. Bertrand’s passion for his hometown and its most famous grape, Cabernet Franc, motivates him to produce quality wine that encapsulates his native appellation. Bertrand is meticulous with his viticultural and vinicultural practices, establishing a long and gentle maceration process, utilizing biodynamic farming methods (a practice he utilized in Spain) and harvesting his grapes by hand.

Chinon Noir

2013 Domaine de Pallus Chinon Les Pensées de Pallus, Chinon, Loire Valley, France.

This Cabernet Franc, a beautiful dark ruby color, exhibits fruity aromas of black cherries, plum, and raspberry, with damp earth tones.  On the palate, earthy tones interplay with dark fruit in a wonderfully well-balanced wine. The wine was dry with low-to-medium tannins, medium acidity, and a concentrated finish.  A great value at around $20 a bottle.

2014 Buil & Giné, Giné Giné, Priorat, Spain.

Buil & Giné’s Garnacha blend consists of Garnacha (40 percent) and Carignan (60 percent). This Garnacha, also known as Grenache in France and elsewhere, was more fruit-forward than the Cabernet Franc, with a palate of strawberry, blackberries, raspberry, and cranberry.  Accenting flavors included light leather, smoke and loamy earth with vanilla notes left on the palate.  The wine was dry with medium acidity, low tannins, and very well balanced. I picked this bottle up for around $18, and would do so again without hesitation.

2014 Buil & Giné, Giné Giné, available at NK Wines in Honolulu's Chinatown District.

Cheers to Medici’s and Shari Lynn for a fabulous evening of music, and the friends who joined in the birthday festivities. A memorable evening indeed. Stay tuned for future adventures on site at Medici’s exploring the perfect wine and jazz pairings...