Thursday, July 28, 2011

Filtering Missouri wines through social media

Wine enthusiasts who may read this post will not need marketing messages to accept and enjoy Missouri wines. But you may be interested in knowing who is doing this work and how she does it. If so, please amble over to and read an interview with Danene Beedle, marketing director of the Missouri Wine and Grape Board.

Here's a quote that's not in the interview:

“Our current message is Our country’s first wine country. Augusta, Mo., was the first AVA (American Viticulture Area) that was awarded back in 1980, even before Napa was awarded a viticulture area. We’re very proud of that. We’re very proud of our rich history. We have beautiful countryside. We have great wines, great wineries — several award-winning ones. So right now our messaging is to get people out, see the beautiful state of Missouri, and take advantage of all the delicious wines that we have.” 

— Danene Beedle

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Bonus wine find

Last week, I cleaned out the closet in the room I use as an office. For several years, the closet had assumed the function of an out-of-site, out-of-mind receptacle for life debris. When I pulled out most of the contents and threw away half the mess, I found, at the bottom of the heap, a case of long-forgotten peach wine I made two years ago. 

I have made several batches of peach over the years. I make an off-dry peach, unlike the typical approach to fruit wine, which is to attain a sweet fruit-juice effect with aggressive sweetening. My peach tastes like a white table wine, if the wine were made of peaches instead of grapes. That's probably why I have not found anyone who likes it: they expect a dessert wine. That's not a bad thing, though. The treasure I extracted from my closet thereby becomes a wonderful bonus for ME! Perfect timing for summer quaffing.

To close, I offer you a short code from Technorati as part of the process of registering this blog with the indexing behemoth: GRB43NWMVPHQ

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Fighting Japanese beetles

In mid-June, Japanese beetles arrived and began munching the leaves of our eight St. Vincent plants in the back yard. By the end of the month, the damage started to exceed our ability to contain the pests by killing them one by one between our thumbs and forefingers. So, we put up the shroud again (above). I think we encased a few bugs within the shroud, because the damage seemed to have worsened slightly when I inspected it this week. But, overall, the damage is minimal, and the presence of the beetles in the neighborhood seems less menacing this year.

I'd  like to hear from anyone who has a Japanese beetle report. Worse? Not so bad? About the same?

See my report on last year's shroud escapade.

Crescent Double Quartet goes global, stays focal

Tikal (Aart van Bergen) - Crescent Double Quartet by CrescentDQ

The Netherlands-based jazz ensemble celebrates the globalization of music with new tunes recently posted at the group’s website. From the Sahara Desert to the Mayan jungles, the group that combines jazz- and string-quartet instrumentation draws inspiration for Radio Mundial, an album in progress.

The Crescent Double Quartet’s website pushes the global theme, and the strings may suggest a jazz-classical hybrid sound. But if you took away the descriptions and the stereotypes, you are left with jazz: a signature group sound, strong rhythm section, compelling soloists. The music always swings, and none of the pieces feel like they were extracted from an exotic culture just for the sake of novelty. The strings set the tone for the group, and the integrity of the group sound prevails.

It’s easy to get swept away by the strings’ sumptuous undercurrent of harmonies. The sound is addictive, like dark chocolate. The group’s leader, Aart van Bergen, often adds his soprano saxophone to the harmonic blend for yet another layer of richness. The strings usually don’t engage in counterpoint, but when they do, they demonstrate that they ought to do more. In the embedded piece, "Tikal," note the abrasive blast at the 3:05 mark — and the weirdly graceful way they extricate themselves from it.

Four tunes from Radio Mundial are available now for streaming or embedding, as well as purchasing. The group will launch the full CD on October 23 with a performance at De Badcuyp Centrum voor Muziek in Amsterdam. Book your passage now!