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Arts and Entertainment

Wente Vineyards' Discover the Wine, Discover the Music

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Post by Greg Thompson. Special to LAist

Every year, Wente Vineyards presents a summer concert series on their 2,000 acre estate in Livermore Valley. Wente embraces what the Hollywood Bowl taught us years ago -- great wine makes beautiful music. Karl Wente’s "Discover the Wine, Discover the Music" program is promoting music in wine terms and vice versa, pairing wines with songs like one might do with foods. Karl compares wine tannins and weight with percussion and brass and mid palate with rhythm.

On Monday a small group gathered at Silver Lake’s new and hip El Tres Inn to taste the wines and meet with Karl, 5th generation winemaker of America’s oldest continuously operated family owned winery. Wente was the first in the world to put any varietal grape name on a label (Sauvignon Blanc,1932) and to label a wine Chardonnay (1936).

Vintage II, which was released last October is the second in a series of campaigns which began with the 2007 premiere of the innovative pairing of complementary wine and music. Each bottle comes with a "bottle-necker" including a redemption code that enables you to download a free song from each artist. This program includes artists such as Miles Davis and Allison Moorer.

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Louis Mel Sauvignon Blanc and Allison Moorer’s ‘Mockingbird are both great ways to open an eve of sensory pleasure. Sturdy acoustic guitar changes, with her sturdy sultry voice in a style of her own. The wine is sturdy with its own style- the unique style of its Livermore valley appellation. The bass and percussion enter mid verse as the various fruit aromas and flavors open up. The gentle waves of the organ correspond to the wine’s floral notes throughout. Oddly, magnolia blossoms are mentioned (Pairing with the Grateful Dead’s Sugar Magnolia?) Crisp acidity delivers a refreshing finish, like the feeling after a sexy sax solo.

Riva Ranch Chardonnay and Tally Hall’s Good Day are both versatile, uplifting, refreshing. Both Sooth and entice. This Chard is a balance of fruit, plus vanilla, oak and butterscotch from barrel fermenting, and creamy flavors from aging sur lie. Good Day has many changes, the wine opens and changes in the glass. The wine and song both have a lot going on!

Nth Degree Merlot and Miles from India. Miles Davis envisions a new song in his head before picking up and instrument. A creative winemaker should also imagine the wine he wants first. Great Expectations has the primary sounds of trumpet, sitar, and piano with other instruments also shining. This merlot has intense fruit aromas with lavender notes and subtle hints of oak. Like the song, there is a LOT going on in the wine in a low key elegant style.

So you’ve got the idea. Southern Hills Cabernet Sauvignon, Charles Whetmore Cabernet Sauvignon and Sandstone Merlot are all full bodied, hearty, yet smooth and approachable. Deep red with good structure. Complex cherry, berry, spice flavors abound.

Hello Stranger, Shurman, and The Duke Spirit all feature sturdy driving bass and drums throughout like the tannins that carry the wines. Vocals and guitars are classic, strong complex. The structuers are strong from start to finish, some with a lingering fade.

All Songs and wines leave you wanting…More.. . More. . . More!

And more is on its way. During the event it was announced a new Chavolot music series will be kicking off June 11 (the second Sat of every month) thru September, which will take place in the parking lot of El Chavo. Liz Garo from The Echo/Spaceland Presents is booking the series.

The first ever “Discover The Wine, Discover The Music” music festival will be happening over Labor Day Weekend on the Wente Vineyard’s grounds (in Livermore, CA) featuring a cross section of emerging artists.