Beyond my family, the two biggest passions in my life are music and wine. So I was rather excited when I was asked to do a series of blogs partnering the grape and the groove! Far more than food and wine matching, this is a very subjective topic, which will hopefully be made even more intriguing as both W&W’s range of wine, and my music taste are pretty eclectic.
The context of where we enjoy wine and music is obviously important. I’ve listened to music with a glass in hand at parties, at festivals, in the garden, but I normally associate the two with a late night exploration of some favourite album and a pondering of the infinite. But I don’t want to get too heavy, no ‘Tom debates which vintage of Mortgage Nouveau compliments John Cage’s 4’33’’‘. My first choice was made as I was reminded of the U.S. congresswoman dancing to ‘Lisztomania’ by French band Phoenix, and the corners of my mind were lit with memories of Provence and rosé in the sun.
In November 2018 Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez became the youngest woman ever elected to the U.S.House of Representatives. Pretty impressive eh? Unfortunately not everyone was happy with the election of the working class woman of Puerto Rican descent, and an attempt to humiliate her was shared online in the form of a video of her dancing during her time at Boston University. The clip showed Ocasio-Cortez and fellow students dancing a la ‘The Breakfast Club’ to Phoenix’s aforementioned 2009 song ‘Lisztomania’.
This effort to smear her spectacularly backfired as support for her surged when everyone saw the ridiculously endearing video. This in turn caused a surge in popularity for Phoenix, with streaming demands for the tune nearly tripling from 1.07 million to 3.13 million in the first few weeks of 2019.
I’ve loved the song ever since I saw Phoenix perform it on an impossibly hot first day of Glastonbury 2010. Despite the uncharacteristically good weather, the festival had failed to spark until Phoenix took to the stage with their bright-eyed, sophisticated indie-pop. As we Brits wilted, I was overwhelmed by their Gallic cool as the summer sun met both its match and perfect partner. Only cool beers were required that day, so where’s the wine?
A couple of years later I was in Provence on a buying trip and met Jean-Louis Croquet, owner of Chateau Theurry. He explained to the group that his son was a musician and that he and his wife stay at the vineyard when they attend the Cannes Film Festival. “Wow” I thought, “this guy must be the new Johnny Halliday!”. Turns out his son was Thomas Mars, the lead singer of Phoenix who is married to filmmaker Sofia Coppola! Nobody else had of heard of them but as I sat sipping crisp, elegant rosé, I was overcome with another wave of Gallic cool and a connection had been indelibly made.
My trip to Provence could have been titled ‘How I learned to stop worrying and love Rosé’. Previously, I’d considered rosé wine very much as a second-class citizen in the world of wine. Sheer ignorance I’m afraid, but no longer! I’m now choosing dry rosé, particularly from Provence, Rhône and Languedoc on a regular basis, even when the weather’s cold and drab. Light, dry rosé from Provence is amazing with salads, sushi, seafood and of course just by itself!
Rosé’s from the Rhone and Languedoc tend to be medium-bodied with lovely depth of flavour and for me, are the perfect partner for salmon. They’re also great with paté, charcuterie and a recent pairing of our Ô d’Yeuses Rosé with a fish tagine was a great success. But as another winter day calls time before I’ve had my fill, and I wistfully imagine what wine I’d like to hear glugging into my glass as Thomas Mars sings “Lisztomania, think less but see it grow”, there is but one choice.
St Felix Rosé from Mèze in the Languedoc is as fresh as the breeze that cools down their coastal vineyard and lends this wine a zingy acidity. Ripened by the Mediterranean sun the Grenache and Cinsault grapes give the wine notes of redcurrants and crushed strawberries with a hint of red apple. There’s enough depth and texture to give the wine balance and let it glide across the palate to an elegant finish. This wine lifts the spirits in so many ways including it’s £9.95 price tag, so in conclusion, take a sip, hit the ‘cool French pop’ button, and dance like no one’s watching.
Tom Scargill, Whitmore & White
Wine geek observation: Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is mostly known by the acronym AOC, which she shares rather neatly for this blog with the classification of French wine Appellation d'Origine Contrôlée.
“Lisztomania” appears on the band’s Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix album.
To hear more on the appeal of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez listen to this episode of Radio 4’s Beyond Today