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Good Vibrations

Canadian wine expert: Natalie Maclean

I am not one to make excuses, but I must ask you not to mind if I address a subject once again that I wrote about on September 5, 2008.

On some weeks my mind will just not come up with a brand new, never-before-discussed topic.

I am thinking about the relationship between music and wine as today, my weekly e-mail arrived from natdecants@na taliemaclean.com.

Natalie Maclean produces a very informative wine newsletter in Canada and the latest version happens to mention quite a few of the wines that we sell.

Her story is about the matching of various selections with particular styles of music.

Back in 2008 I wrote of a group of psychologists at the University of Edinburgh assembling 250 adults to taste two wines blindly; one wine, while Mozart’s Eine Kleine Nachtmusik was playing and one accompanied by the Jimi Hendrix version of Dylan’s All Along the Watchtower.

I recreated it with ten friends in our home and the result was the same: “Entirely different wines,” they all said.

In our case, the two “so different” wines were Stags Leap Winery Merlot 2005 from Napa Valley (we now stock the 2013 for $57.60). Of course, it goes without saying, that it was just a matter of music triggering the neurotransmitter serotonin and the hormone epinephrine to change our perception through vibrations in the air.

Combine this with various molecular shapes locking into receptors in our nose and the latest research at Rockefeller University, which says that humans can identify more than one trillion smells. Let’s face it folks, we really should say “wine smelling” rather than “wine tasting”. Those taste buds can only give us sweet, sour, bitter, salt and umami. As the spring equinox was on Monday, the 20th of this month, I think that Natalie’s suggestion of Stravinsky with Gruner Vetlinger should be considered, especially since the grape and The Rite of Spring are both much appreciated by me. Our Kurt Angerer 2014 Kies Gruner Veltliner sits all on its own in our warehouse as the only Austrian offering among 1,500 from around the world.

It exhibits spicy yeast notes and citrus that make it a well-rounded white to have with food. In fact, Natalie feels that it is mouthwatering and has the proper acidity to pair with shellfish and seafood. $20.10

Keeping with the seasonal approach, Natalie suggests Vivaldi with Oyster Bay Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand.

So as The Four Seasons wafts through the room, we remove the screw cap and pour our Oyster Bay 2016 from Marlborough.

I like what Wine Enthusiast magazine has to say: “90/100. This ticks all the Marlborough sauvignon blanc boxes; cut grass, snow pea, nectarine and citrus, all bundled into a medium-bodied wine that comes across as dry, silky and refreshing”.

I do believe that this is the most popular grape on our island and this is the most popular rendition from the most popular sauvignon blanc-producing country. $18.95.

Then there is our Gerard Bertrand 2015 Gris Blanc from the Languedoc region of southern France and I would be handling the truth loosely if I said it was my idea to have Katrina and the Waves singing Walking on Sunshine while I sniffed and sipped.

Natalie recommends it, though, and it is appropriate to share her thoughts on this wine: “91/100. A pale ballet slipper pink, almost crystalline transparency in the glass. This rosé is made from grenache noir and grenache gris grapes.

“The wine is matured on the fine lees for several weeks before bottling. Lovely mouthwatering acidity for fresh seafood salads. Finishes savoury with dried herbs and garrigue with some light racy cherry on the finish.”

It is fair to say that this wine is proving to be very, very popular. $15.95.

I remember my early years in radio and all of my fellow workers just loved jazz. Natalie suggests one of her fellow countrymen, Oscar Peterson born in Montreal, to accompany pinot noir.

So let’s put on Live at the Blue Note (I’ve been there) and pull the cork on a wonderfully soft and lush bottle of Rodney Strong Russian River Valley 2013 Pinot Noir.

So as the “Maharaja of the keyboard” works his magic, we can enjoy the soft, silky texture on the palate as cherries along with flowers and baking spices shine through with fine balance and a lingering finish. $26.50.

So, I have given you the music and the wine and all you need to add for perfection is someone special to share them with. Enjoy!

• This column is an advertorial for Burrows Lightbourn Ltd. E-mail mrobinson@bll.bm or 295-0176. Burrows Lightbourn has stores in Hamilton (Front Street East, 295-1554), Paget (Harbour Road, 236-0355) and St George’s (York Street, 297-0409). Visit www.wineonline.bm.