The Death Whisperer Series

The Death Whisperer Series
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Saturday, January 30, 2010

Stags Leap 2007 Viognier and Jacques Stotzem

Jacques Stotzem is a Belgian-born acoustic guitarist with one of the most diversified styles I’ve ever heard. He is expert at adapting pop and rock songs to the acoustic guitar while also playing melodic folk ballads, blues, and country twang. His command of harmonics and melody is that of a virtuoso. You can find a lot of his music on YouTube and below is a selection of some of my favorites. Hope you enjoy him.

Fields of Gold:

Purple Haze:

Voodoo Child:

With or Without You:

Simple Pleasure:

Move Move:

Rules of the game:

After the Gold Rush:  

Straight On:

Taxi through Belfast:

Come Together:


The Clap:

Improvisation with Eric Roche:

Tonight I’m featuring a wine that I rarely drink, but with which I could more enamored. Viognier is a difficult grape to grow or so I’m told. I’ve had some very ordinary versions of it, which may be why I don’t seek it out often. However, when it’s done right, it’s a delightful alternative to a Chardonnay with a character similar to a Sauvignon Blanc. So, let me tell you about Stags Leap 2007 Viognier, which is definitely done right. It’s a pale straw color with some legs on the glass. The bouquet is beautiful, hinting of honeysuckle, pear, citrus, and honey. The first sip slides across the tongue with a slight tingle followed by layers of pear, grapefruit, peach, and tropical fruits. As the night went on, the wine opened up becoming even more aromatic and complex. So, Mike, how do you really feel about it? Mikey likes it…a lot. And at $20.00, it’s a great bargin. I guarantee you’ll enjoy it with Jacques Stotzem.


Friday, January 29, 2010

Hope Ripper Shiraz and Acoustic Alchemy

If there’s one wine for which Australia is known, it’s Syrah. It’s so Australian, they even call it by a different name: Shiraz. Some of the best wines in France are made from this grape, but I always look to Australia as the best source of these deep red wines with ripe blackberry, cherry, and plum flavors combined with black pepper notes on the palate. The wines are typically very rich and complex. Australian Shiraz is usually aged in American oak barrels from which they pick up hints of vanilla that augment their fullness and silky mouth feel.

Hope Vineyard’s 2006 Ripper Shiraz ($18.00) is typical of the genre with dark, inky red color, dominant blackberry augmented by plum, pepper, and hints of chocolate on the palate, and lots of fruit and spice in the bouquet. The tannins are light with a nice lingering finish.

A bottle of Ripper Shiraz goes well with the mello jazz sounds of a group I’ve loved for years, namely Acoustic Alchemy. The original duo of Nick Webb and Greg Carmichael were two of my smooth jazz favorites. Sadly, Nick died of cancer in February of 1998. Greg still fronts the band, now accompanied by Miles Gilderdale and the music is as wonderful as ever. Hope you enjoy it.

Playing for Time:

The Beautiful Game:

Panama Cat:

Live at the Granada Theater:


Wind of Change:

Catalina Kiss:


Angel of the South:

Cuban Heels:

Evil the Weasel:

This Way Out of Nowhere:


Sunday, January 17, 2010

Greg Howe and Cambria Pinot Noir

I’ve got a 2006 Cambria Santa Maria Valley, Julia Vineyard, Pinot Noir for you tonight. It’s a light crimson color with a bouquet of cherries and strawberries. Juicy flavors combine cherry, strawberry, a hint of cranberry, and a touch of vanilla. Tannins are very mild. Very nice long cherry finish. I paid $18.00 for it and at that price, it’s one of the best values around. Wine Enthusiast gave it a rating of 93. I agree.

And while your sipping the Pinot, have a listen to Greg Howe. He’s often classified as a shredder, and in fact, his album, “Greg Howe” was named #10 in the top ten shred albums of all time by Guitar World Magazine. He filled in for Jennifer Batten during the 1996 Michael Jackson tour through Europe. But his style is far beyond just typical shredding. He’s closer to jazz-fusion in my book in a class with guys like Al Dimeola when he was with Return to Forever, or John McLaughlin in the Mahvishnu Orchestra—technically excellent, yet very tasteful. His music is quite complex and listenable. Check out his stuff and enjoy the wine.


Bird’s eye view:




Present Moment:



Pepper shake:

A Delicacy:

Punk Jazz:



Friday, January 1, 2010

California Guitar Trio & Medalla Real Carmenere

Tonight, I'm featuring an acoustic guitar trio, namely the California Guitar Trio. But first, the wine. Start with a 2007 Medalla Real Carmenere, D.O. Colchagua Valley. It’s a Chilean red, deep and dark in color, with a bouquet of dark fruit and spice. Stong notes of blackberry, currents, and black cherries with a bit of vanilla and oak on the palate. Concentrated, long finish. It’s unfiltered so you may want to decant it…or not. Excellent red. I’m really growing attached to Chilean reds.

The California Guitar Trio are three guys who’ve played together for at least fourteen years and studied guitar together even longer, having met and studied with Robert Fripp in England. Their musical repertoire ranges from classical pieces like Toccata in fugue in D minor by Bach to Walk Don’t Run by the Ventures. Quite diverse. For you equipment nuts, they favor Breedlove guitars. Take a break from football, open the wine, and enjoy them.

Bach’s Toccata in Fugue in D Minor:

Tubular Bells:

The Marsh:

Bohemian Rhapsody:

Train to Lamy:

Walk Don’t Run:

Classical Gas:


Live with FPR-TV:


The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly: