A Musical Interlude

I was honoured to be asked by my good friend Frankie Cook to be part of his Blog Series, the Frankly Wines & Friends Wine & Music Series recently, and after he gave me his selections, I wrote the following piece for his blog. For more in the series, check out his pages at www.https://frankstero.com/ for an excellent series, and insights into the mindset of many friends and colleagues in the World of Wine.

The Frankly Wines & Friends Wine & Music Series #15 – Liam Mycroft


In these unusual times, we all need a lift from time to time. As a change to my usual wine reviews I’ve decided to start a fun and irreverent series on matching wine and music. The basic idea is that I give participants:

  • A piece of music –> they suggest a wine to go with it, with an explanation
  • A wine –> they suggest a piece of music to go with it

It’s all for fun, so please don’t slag off anybody’s taste music (or wine!) Thanks to Michelle Williams for the inspiration – she has been matching songs to wine for years on her Rockin Red Blog.

Our 15th guest contributor in The Frankly Wines & Friends Wine & Music Series is someone with an accent that is hard to pin down, but that makes perfect sense when you head his bio!  Liam came into wine geekery later than some others but has been making up for lost time, devouring wine knowledge (and wine bottles?) at a hectic pace.  After meeting at several consumer tastings he joined us in the Dublin North Side (DNS) Wine Club despite being a southsider.  After a few tastings he threw hit hat into the ring to present a tasting, and the favourite of the group that night is the Garzon which I picked for him below.

For music I picked a track from an artist we both love – Eric Clapton – but not one of the most obvious.  Bad Love is from his long hair period and is definitely more rock than blues, but it’s a classic.

It is with excitement and trepidation that I answer the request from Frankie to play a part in the wonderful Music and Wine Collaboration series. Excited to be asked, for sure, but the trepidation comes from following such illustrious giants from the Wine Gliteratti as James Hubbard & Jim Dunlop amongst a host of others. Frankie asked me a few weeks ago, but I had been tied up on a work project, meaning I didn’t have a lot of spare time to do justice to the cause, and lo and behold, the literary, musical and all round Wino genius, Lee Issacs, got in before me with his wonderfully descriptive scribblings. While Lee and I have never met in person, largely due to the present travel restrictions we find ourselves in, we share a common love of Argentina, and we both found our life partners roaming the Pampas, and this might explain our mutual love of Malbec, more of that to follow, as I now have to follow his words…

My musical tastes are very eclectic. Something to do with my advancing years, in that they range from the 60’s, the Beatles obviously (far better than the Stones!), through my formative years of the 70’s, with psychedelic sounds, before punk emerged, followed by a constant return to the 70’s as I got stuck in a time warp of music from that era. I still listen every week to Johnny Waler’s Sounds of the 70’s every Sunday afternoon. I have had a detour in recent years to embrace Country Music, yes, I know! It all came about from spending a few months working every year in the US back in the ’90s, and I fell for it… But I digress…

Eric Clapton – Bad Love

The Track that Frankie selected for me comes from one of my All Time Heroes, Slow Hand himself, Eric Clapton. Perhaps one of his lesser known tracks, from the 1989 Journeyman Album, “Bad Love”. Although it charted around the world, you don’t often hear it on the radio, and to be honest, although I have the album, I had forgotten the track over time. A pleasure to be reacquainted, and the lyrics rang very close to home. (This is where I turn sloppy and sentimental, which features from here on in, sorry).

The lyrics talk about being sad for the lonely people who walked through life alone for so long, as I did, but now having found their one true love, there would be no more Bad Love in their lives. This resounds with me, having met my wife late in life, after a failed marriage, and relationships in my younger days, but with all that behind me, having met Paula, my Argentine Rose, this song has new meaning.

Obviously as it reflected my life and how I had found my “Good Love” in Argentina, the wine I have selected to pair with the song, to remind me of every glorious moment, is of course, an Argentine Wine. Having been able to live just outside Buenos Aires for four years between 2009 and 2013, wines from the country became a staple, and I fell in love with Malbec as well as the woman.

I have selected a Malbec available here in Ireland, from Kaiken, ironically headed up by a Chilean, Aurelio Montes, from the Uco Valley in Mendoza. A truly memorable wine, the Kaiken Ultra Malbec is bright red in colour with an intense aroma emanating of spice and floral elegance, before the black fruits, so typical in a quality Malbec shine through. Smooth, soft tannins give way to a lengthy finish, and take me back to sitting outside in Buenos Aires as my brother in law stoked the Parilla (BBQ) and cooked an Asado to be washed down by a smooth Malbec.

Bodega Garzón Albariño

Of course, the journey doesn’t stop here, and Frankie, knowing my affection for South America, has selected an Albariño from Bodega Garzón in Uruguay for me to come up with a musical side dish to accompany this maritime delight. Albariño wines from Rías Baixas and Galicia have become very popular in Ireland in the past few years, and this Uruguayan version certainly reaches the giddy heights of the top Albariño’s Worldwide.

Pale yellow in colour, with a greenish tinge in the glass, on the nose the peachy summer fruit comes forward, with a hint of salinity, taking me to the seaside, and seafood. Citric flavours mingle with the pear in the mouth, and a long aftertaste reminds me of the smell of seaweed and brine as you walk along a coastline.

For some strange reason, my sentimentality came back to me every-time I thought about a musical pairing to go with this wine. The sea-salt took me to the Ocean, and a more local musician, with a song, not really about the ocean at all, but about life being a Voyage, and to Christy Moore, and his wonderful rendition of the Johnny Duhan penned song. The song talks about how life is an ocean, and love is a boat, and through troubled waters it keeps us afloat. https://www.youtube.com/embed/CkRSzhTeF34?version=3&rel=1&showsearch=0&showinfo=1&iv_load_policy=1&fs=1&hl=en&autohide=2&wmode=transparent

I’m not sure how a few bottles of Albariño would fare as we sail through life, but it took me back to finding my true love back in Argentina, and how we sailed the ocean back to Ireland (Ok, we flew, but its far more romantic to think of the journey being in a boat – romantic licence), and here we are, gathering around us our own crew of friends, making our life complete.

So there you have it. Two songs, two wines. The wines are linked, being both from South America, but the songs are dramatically different in their style, but are linked by their appreciation of Love and Life, hope you stayed the course.

Liam Mycroft

Having set sail for Liverpool as a 5 year old, before returning home at 40 plus, Liam has lead a roaming life, taking him from County Down to Dublin, via Liverpool, Salford, San Diego, Rhode Island, and Buenos Aires. He is a Civil Servant by day, and in recent years, a wine nerd at night and weekends. After a lifetime of living a cliché of drinking the same wines, because he liked them, upon his return from Argentina in 2013, he decided to learn more about the Grape, taking a local course with Leslie Williams, which enthused him to go down the road of the WSET exams, and, so far, he has passed Levels 2 and 3 with Merit. Next up for this self-confessed nerd is the Italian Wine Scholar Programme, as he has fallen in love with the myriad of wines from the Boot of the Mediterranean, and aims to kick on with his knowledge in the future, sharing his views via Twitter (@Liam3494) and blogging his personal wine thoughts at www.thelongwineroad.com.

A Wine Club Zoom Tasting

A Northern Rhone Syrah with a difference, was how this Brézéme from Eric Texier was described to me when I collected my bottle, and it proved to be the case. This bottle was purchased by my Wine Club for our members, so that we could have a Zoom Tasting Session, whereby we all had the same bottle, and we duly had the tasting last night which was an interesting way to do it.

The winemaker was unfamiliar to me, being less of a francophile than many, but I was aware that the wine was made with love and affection as Eric Texier has a reputation for putting his soul into his wines. They are organic, biodynamic, with the very minimum of sulphur added, which certainly made for something a little different.

My initial reaction to the wine was how dark and forebodding it appeared on pour, and a certain whiff of vegetal coming from the glass. I had opened the bottle around 20 minutes earlier, and in hindsight it probably needed a decant, and a longer aeration. But, once I stuck my nose in the glass (I wasn’t using my tasting glasses), beyond the vegetal there was a very pleasant fruit aroma coming through, dark fruits, blackberry, blueberry and plums.

But the palate was to disappoint. I go back to my lack of aeration, but while there was strong acidity, the fruit wasn’t as prevailing as the nose had lead me to expect. yes, there was fruit there, but the earthyness registered higher with my taste buds, and the tannins weren’t balancing everything out as can often be the case in a great wine. The aftertaste left a little be desired too, with a yeasty bitterness leftover in what was quite a short finish than I would normally expect with a Northern Rhone wine.

It was interesting how others in the Club described their own experiences with the wine, and as we all have different receptors that can often give us a different view of a wine, others may have a different view.

Overall, I was disappointed in the wine, as I had been expecting more, and while I can understand what Msr. Texier is trying to do, for me it just wasn’t working, and I don’t think I would be seeking out again. The general consensus of the Club was similar, with the added question as to how this might develop in the cellar over time. The other caveat I would have would be that different vintages would have a different profile, as 2017 was not the best of years in the Rhone Valley weather wise.

For the ABC Brigade, I challenge you…

As I was developing my taste buds in recent years, my memories went back to the 80’s and the plethora of oaky, buttery, Chardonnay’s that were prevalent in those halycon days. I can confess that I quite liked them, for a while, but as my tastes moved towards reds, and more full bodied wines of that ilk, I stopped drinking Chardonnay, and, of course, the ABC Campaign began to emerge, the Anything But Chardonnay Campaign.

Now, although I was never of that ilk, it was to be many years before I returned to drinking this style of wine. Possibly because my knowledge of wines has increased over the years, and my budget allows me to look for good quality wines, rather than the Supermarket Staples, I have found that modern versions of the grape show a wonderful style of wine, and one that I can certainly go back to.

This example, a White Burgundy from Pouilly-Vinzelles, hits the spot. The Pouilly=Vinzelles Appellation Controlée is very small, but it fights large. The vines planted vary between 35 to 55 years old, all managed by hand, and the grapes are fermented 80% in tank and 20% in barrel, leaving subtle oak flavours, rather than the overpowering wood of olden days.

An excellent White Burgundy, at the peak of its drinking. Aromas of pears and vanilla struck me, and on the palate the acidity was refreshingly citrussy, before the rounded mouthful of tropical fruit took over, and left a finish that lingered long after the swallow. The buttery texture of the wine left me wanting more, and for those that are still in the ABC Camp, I challenge you to keep that opinion if you were to drink this heavenly delight.