Monday, March 27, 2017

Ned Luberecki's Take Five and Chateau Ste. Michelle's Columbia Valley Dry Riesling

On March 31st 2017 banjoist Ned Luberecki releases his newest album Take Five. I'm a fan of Luberecki's Sirius XM Radio Bluegrass Junction show, but I have to admit, I was a bit skeptical when receiving an early download link. I'd never listened to a solo banjoist album before; and in hindsight, there was no reason to be skeptical. First, Luberecki organized a stellar supporting cast from vocalists to fiddlers and guitarists. (This cast consists of Missy Raines and the New Hip, Jeremy Garrett of The Infamous Stringdusters, Becky Buller, the Helen Highwater Stringband (Mike Compton, David Grier, Missy Raines, and Shad Cobb), Chris Jones and The Night Drivers, Dale Ann Bradley, Amanda Smith, and Stephen Mougin -- guitarist of the Sam Bush Band and the other half of Nedski & Mojo.) Second, the interplay between the fiddle and banjo is hypnotic (See Cleveland Park). Finally, and most importantly, the album is as varied as possible.  There are fiddle tunes, train songs, and even concludes with the Theme from Star Trek. Higher Ground is my favorite track with Dale Ann Bradly on vocals. Blue Monk handles the blues and there's an excellent Buck Owens Medley.  And his take on the Brazilian bossa nova jazz song Girl From Ipanema sums up this album -- anything is possible with Ned Luberecki's banjo.

Riesling is the wine equivalent to the banjo; it's underappreciated and misunderstood. (Such as Riesling wine is always sweet.) Yes some are, but the majority range from dry to off-dry with enough acidity to balance any residual sugar.  Normally I would think Finger Lakes Riesling, but recently I purchased a bottle of Chateau Ste. Michelle 2015 Columbia Valley Dry Riesling ($9, 12% abv). Like Take Five, this wine is refreshing and versatile - with apple and citrus flavors, some petrol, and all balanced with refreshing acidity. The winery has even implemented the International Riesling Foundation Sweetness Scale to inform the consumer of the wine's inherent sweetness -- with this wine solidly in the Dry range. And at that price and abv I could drink it every day while listening to Luberecki. Cheers.
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