From the historic wine growing region of Maury, France, nestled high in the Pyrenees-Orientales Mountains, an area known as France's Department number 66, comes Fragile Rose 2017 ($18). Maury is a village that is legendary for its legacy of growing grapes. Locals drink a succulent bright salmon-pink colored wine made with a blend of old vine grenache, syrah, mouvedre and carignan, all rustic old grape varieties that are native to the region. The rich, multi colored soils of black schist and red clay angle on steep hillsides revealing striking shades of black, gray and Orange. That, combined with the region's warm climates and blustery winds, makes for one of the most compelling wine producing regions in all of Southern France.
Artemis, the all-female musical ensemble led by brilliant pianist and composer Renee Rosnes featured Melissa Aldana on Saxophone, Anat Cohen, clarinet and reeds, Noriko Ueda, Bass, Ingrid Jensen, trumpet and Allison Miller on explosive percussion electrified the Newport Jazz Festival's final day. The icing on this all-female celebratory cake was a vocally superlative Cecile McLorin Salvant, who proved with her artful phrasing and towering jazz vocal improvisations, that the human voice is just as potent a musical instrument as any of those assembled onstage. The group's collective effort on Monk's Brilliant Corners, set the tone for the performance under blazingly beautiful summer skies, with the ambiance of boats in the harbor serving as the backdrop to a delightfully swaying capacity crowd. Savant, looking slim and lovely in a simple white summer linen dress, laid claim to her own musical legacy, with a tribute to Billie Holiday, singing Fine and Mellow, a simile that can easily be applied to Ms. Salvant. Artemis similarly gave musical flight with takes on the Beatles (Fool On The Hill) and an appropriately innovative take on Stevie Wonder's If It's Magic, creating a musical alchemy all their own.
The 2018 Newport Jazz Festival's second day of stormy weather did little to dampen audience enthusiasm or the talents of the brilliant performers on multiple stages at the festival on the isle of Fort Adams. Pat Methany returned to perform the next day on the main Fort Stage in driving rain, yet he delivered an electrifying set that rivaled the hurricane level wind and rain with his intensity. Vocalist and saxophonist Grace Kelly kept things moving swimmingly (pardon the pun) in the shelter of the Quad stage, paying musical tribute to festival Artistic Director Christian McBride in a stunning display of vocalize and launching into her own uniquely refreshing brand of jazz fusion which she proclaimed was inspired by a film on female superheroes. Musically, she can claim the same encomium for herself.
Zonin Cuvee 1821 Prosecco DOC is the benchmark for great Prosecco. This is one of the highest rated Italian sparkling wines that I've written about this year, and one glass tells you why. It has all of the hallmarks; a delightful pale straw color, persistent pearlage (that steady stream of tiny white bubbles that ascends from the bottom of the glass) a nice foam, and a creamy feel in the mouth with flavors of lemon and lime peel and a hint of peach stones and a just a little bit of mineral taste to give it some backbone.
OPENING NIGHT 2018 NEWPORT JAZZ FESTIVAL AN ECLECTIC MIX
At Opening Night of the 2018 Newport Jazz Festival, the esteemed young baritone Jose James appeared inexplicably in a retro getup reminiscent of either Jimi Hendrix or Prince. The unfathomable wardrobe reference appeared to have little to do with the subject of his concert, a musical tribute to composer and singing artist Bill Withers. It was particularly baffling since through his entire career as a performer, Withers eschewed any trappings of the popular recording industry. In fact, his memorable, quietly soulful hits (Grandma's Hands, Hello, Like Before, among many) were, by design the very antithesis of the commercial pop/funk/soul that dominated the music scene at the height of his career.
Like a painter digging deep into his palette of oils and water colors, newly-appointed Artistic Director Christian McBride extracted a 2018 Newport Jazz Festival program that showcased the full depth and breadth of the musical genre in a kaleidoscope of colors. Legendary lions bellowed from the caverns of time; the guitar great Pat Metheny on Opening Night at the International Tennis Hall of Fame, site of the original festival in 1954, and Charles Lloyd, celebrating his 80th birthday in a trio of settings, and rising stars such as teen wunderkind Matthew Whitaker and the scintillating baritone Jose James streamed across the Newport Bay sky like so many multi-colored musical fireworks. This was no artifice, but the referencing of a skilled hand presenting a weekend calendar of artists designed to please both the seasoned aficionado and the jazz neophyte alike.
A bold, beautiful wine, full of rich red fruit flavors of blackberries, dark plums, dried oregano, and cracked pepper with hints of dark unsweetened cocoa on the finish, this is the perfect wine to go with a well-aged Cowboy Rib Eye steak, right off the grill or a slab of Baby Back Ribs in a dark molasses sauce. The wine has a dark ruby-red color that is appealing.
Argentina is quickly gaining recognition as one of the most important wine growing regions in the world. Its historic development and cultivation of Europe's most recognized and prized grapes and its nurturing of its own indigenous varieties has only increased its appeal. Add to that the country's ideal growing conditions, from high elevation vineyards in the foothills of the Andes Mountains, to valleys in the shadow of Mount Aconcagua. Some vineyards are planted at some of the highest altitudes in the world. Malbec is the country's most important planting, followed by Cabernet, Tempranillo and Chardonnay. Coming up close behind is Sauvignon Blanc. Increased demand and appreciation for white wine varietals has boosted the world's appreciation for this white grape. With its bright lemon and citrus flavors and hints of herbs, like tarragon, oregano and thyme, the grape and its resulting wines have subtle complexity that makes it ideal for spicy foods, fusion dishes and international cuisine so popular among millennials. Everyone is looking for versatility and Sauvignon Blanc delivers on all counts.
Choppy seas and sloppy weather conditions marred the start of the Chicago Yacht Club 110th Race to Mackinac, considered the nation's premiere yachting event. Further, a man lost at sea following a report of a man overboard, on the race boat, Imedi, in the Turbo section, considered the largest and fastest of the 306 boats in the race, resulted in 39 boats returning to the Chicago Yacht Club, ending their race participation. The missing sailor has been identified as 53 year old Jon Santarelli of Lincoln Park.
Edouard Deluc's exquisite film Gauguin: Journey to Tahiti is in limited engagement beginning Friday July 20 at The Gene Siskel Film Center in Chicago's Loop. A fictionalized account of the tortured genius's phenomenal life, the film recounts his eschewing of the life of 1890s Bourgeois Paris and its contrasting Bohemian culture, Abandoning his wife and five children in Paris, he ventures to Tahiti. Vincent Cassel, with his deep set eyes and craggy face of lines dug in like the wood block etchings Gauguin created to depict his magical new world, gives life and breath to the artist's angst and brief moments of exquisite joy . Deluc's deft directing and sweeping panoramic lens captures the all -encompassing glory of this strange new world of Tahiti and its mystical mountains, hills, and valleys. Tuhei Adam's is luminous as the artist's common law wife Tehura.