“It don’t mean a thing, if it ain’t got that swing” By Mikey on April 20th, 2022 in Blog Spread the love Our final theme of April takes inspiration from International Jazz Day, celebrated on 30th April. A style of music spanning many decades, jazz refuses to be pigeonholed and forms the basis of inspiration for many modern music genres. Notable for its free-form style and the virtuosity of its musicians, jazz offers us some of the most exciting and fascinating musical experiences ever created. Here we select four drinks that fit the jazz criteria; offering excitement, fascination, mastery of execution, deliciousness and which are just that tiny bit confusing but in a really good way. “Orange is red brought nearer to humanity by yellow.” – Wassily Kandinsky We start with a style of wine that’s a bit like modern Jazz – Some are evangelical about it, proclaiming it as the ultimate expression of the vigneron’s art, while many find it confusing and a little too unusual to be palatable. We’re talking, of course, about orange wine. Orange wine is made with white wine grapes and employs various red winemaking techniques. This means fermenting the whole grape in an oxygen-rich environment instead of only the juice in a sealed tank. It has a whole spectrum of flavours and colours all its own. Sometimes it’s unfiltered leaving the wine with sediment and potential cloudiness. Just like jazz it’s sometimes challenging and goes against the norm. When it’s done right, it’s a wonderful and unique thing. Slovenia has emerged in recent years as a country at the forefront of Orange wine production with many of the country’s vineyards lying just across the border from some of Italy’s best sites. Atelier Kramar is one such winery. Owned and run by former artists Katja and Matjaz, this sustainably run winery produces a small number of multi-award-winning, low-intervention wines. Primario is their 100% Rebula orange wine. This fairly unheard variety has been used to wonderful effect in this fragrant, fruity and slightly jazzy wine. Flavours of apricot crumble and custard, lemon, peaches and cooked apple mingle harmoniously with green pepper, melon and pencil shavings. Balanced by refreshing acidity and a hint of bitterness on the finish that keeps you wanting more. This full, ripe, orange wine confounds the naysayers and offers one of the best introductions to this type of winemaking we’ve tried. “There is geometry in the humming of the strings, there is music in the spacing of the spheres.” – Pythagoras Penedes in Northern Spain is mostly known for Cava. Less well known are the still wine producers creating delicious, unique and occasionally left-field wines from traditional Cava wine varieties. Alemany I Corrió are one such producer who have carved their own path. Since 1999 owners Irene Alemany and Laurent Corrio have taken their vineyards from high yielding commercial vineyards to much lower-yielding, with a focus on quality and fruit-flavour concentration. They employ both organic and biodynamic farming practices. Principia Mathematica is made from 100% Xarel lo, a grape normally found in Cava which offers an earthy element to the blend. Here it shows a completely different side. Flavours of gooseberry, Granny Smiths, barbecued sausage (no, seriously) and a touch of scrumpy cider come through with a finish of smoke and Tarte Tatin that dissolves into lemons and peaches at the end. Best described as ‘mad as a box of frogs’ by our tasting team, this freeform expression of genius bonkers is both enthralling and delicious. By taking a humble ingredient, elevating it, through commensurate skill, and then refining it into something unexpected and genuinely without comparison, Alemany I Corrió have embodied the spirit of modern jazz in this outstanding wine. It’s no wonder it won Indy Best Buy, awarded by Terry Kirby in his “10 best Spanish white wines to try” article for The Independent in August 2021. “To study music, we must learn the rules. To create music, we must break them.” – Nadia Boulanger Low-intervention, Natural, call it what you will, our next jazz music inspired wine is very much of the new wave, funky variety. Though still a white wine, this will certainly appeal to those who like their wines orange. Slow, spontaneous fermentation with indigenous yeasts? Check. Organic farming practices? Check. From a part of France with less legal restrictions on winemaking than other, more ’prestigious’ regions? Check. A pronounced cidery character to the wine? Check. Lionel Maurel is the 4th generation owner and winemaker at Mas D’Agalis. He took over his Languedoc-Roussillon based grape growing business which originally sold all its fruit to large wine cooperatives and turned it into a highly respected low-intervention winery and vineyard. Le Grand Carré is a blend of grapes; Terret, Chenin Blanc, Clairette and Vermentino. Many will be familiar with Chenin Blanc, and perhaps even Vermentino. Clairette is certainly less well known and mostly used for rosé from the South of France. Terret, well, even we struggled to remember this one. Local to the Languedoc it’s most commonly found in white Corbières and makes up 60% of this particular blend. Lionel earned his chops working with some of the most respected names in the low intervention winemaking. Using slow and soft juice extraction and vinifying each variety separately before carefully blending, he is a little like the great Big Band leaders of the golden era of jazz. Skillfully blending components to produce harmonious but surprising results, full of delight and which inspire no small amount of wonder. “The strength of a nation derives from the integrity of the home.” – Confucius Our final jazz celebration libation comes straight out of left field. Grappa. Many of us have some pretty bad memories of shooting this inexpensive, harshly alcoholic spirit. But while this may be our only experience of Grappa it doesn’t mean it’s all like this. Just because £15 Brandy exists doesn’t mean Louis XIII tastes the same. Domus Grappa was founded in 2014 by Massimiliano Favaretto, a highly respected bartender who’s worked in some of London’s best cocktail establishments. He grew tired of only seeing sub-standard Grappa available in the bars and restaurants. Desiring a taste of home (Domus is Latin for ‘home’) he took matters into his own hands. He set about sourcing some of the finest single grape variety Grappas he could find in Piemonte. Domus Grappa Nebbiolo De Barolo really does redefine what you think of Grappa. Aromas of marzipan, banana leaf and marjoram hit you first. Then flavours of sesame, green peppercorn, pear and clove drift away into white pepper and lemon verbena. The whole thing is complex, elegant, classy and, crucially, super smooth and delicious. What Massi has achieved is a product that sweeps away preconceptions. A little like the Acid Jazz musicians of the 90s he has taken something familiar and refined it. It’s all presented in a new and exciting way while still acknowledging its heritage.