Friday, March 3, 2017

Standing Solo with Noam Pikelny's Universal Favorite and the Wente Morning Fog Chardonnay

Today (March 3rd) Grammy nominated banjoist Noam Pikelny newest solo album, Universal Favorite dropped. Released by Rounder Records, this is not your typical solo effort - in fact, that's exactly what it is - just Pikelny and his banjo. No supporting cast; and this simplicity creates a fantastic album. My favorite track is his interpretation of the Josh Ritter <-> <->Mississippi John Hurt Folk Bloodbath. Pikelny's soft vocals and picking provide a heartfelt rendition of the Ritter's popular song. His deadpan baritone vocals on Old Banjo, My Tears Don't Show, and Sweet Sunny South glide the lyrics in accompany with the banjo's melody.  What took him so long to step in front of the mic?  The instrumentals are classic Pikelny showing a range of sound coaxed from his banjo. Never a dull moment. You can listen to these songs right now as they are streaming at Garden and Gun Magazine.

And grab a bottle of the 2015 Wente Vineyards Morning Fog Estate Chardonnay ($15) before listening. This wine's simple, yet classic flavor, mimics Universal Favorite. It was also one of my favorites during the Livermore Valley Winegrowers Association excursion at the 2016 Wine Bloggers Conference, where it was served at the dinner with 5th generation winemaker Karl Wente at Concannon Vineyard. The wine is named for the "morning coastal fog pushed by Pacific wind streams into the bowl of the San Francisco Bay and lured inland by Livermore Valley’s unique East-West orientation".  This daily condition helps add freshness and acidity to the wine, while the soils and clonal variants add minerality, and the wine making process - creamy texture. Like the album this wine starts simply, but the underlying acids, texture, and minerals provides elements that are normally not present at this price. Well done.

For those in the DC area Pikelny is scheduled for Wolf Trap on March 29th (solo, not with the Punch Brothers). Too bad its not at the Filene Center, then I'd bring a bottle or two of the Morning Fog. Cheers.
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