Monday, July 13, 2009


For July’s installment of Wine & Music Monday here at Under the Grape Tree, I wanted to talk about giving credit to both a wine and a band that deserve some serious love. For the wine, I thought long and hard about what is really a misunderstood grape variety, and it didn’t take me too long: Riesling. I have been a big fan of the varietal for years, yet every time I go and recommend one to a customer, I get nowhere. They either 1) cringe at the thought of drinking what they perceive to be a sickly-sweet white wine, or 2) just stare at me blankly like I have just spoken to them in Cantonese.

One of my all-time favorite wines is the Donnhoff Riesling QbA, which is a bone-dry representation of the grape from the Nahe region in Germany. I’ve often thought of Donnhoff as the Chateau Leoville-Las-Cases of Germany, exceptional, evolving, and always superb, from the entry-level QbA, to the priciest TBAs. I’ve been stocking a few bottles of the QbA for years, and until recently, had them as far back as 2000, but alas, my wife and I like drinking them too much. Always blessed with mineral and Rainer cherry notes, hints of apricots, figs and even a bit of white peach, these wines usually keep for 5-7 years (at least that’s as far as I have managed to keep them at my house).

So how does a German Riesling tie in with a rock band (how did you know it was a rock band?)? Well, the walk is not as far as you might think. One of my favorite bands these past 20+ years is a power trio out of Texas called King’s X. Ever since I had joined a rock band myself back in 1989, and my rhythm guitarist Clay had played Gretchen Goes to Nebraska, King’s X’s second disc, I was hooked. I couldn’t believe it was just three guys making all those sounds. You can ask just about any rock musician, from the God of Thunder himself, Gene Simmons, to Alice In Chains’ guitarist Jerry Cantrell, to legendary producer/musician Nile Rodgers, to the guys in Pearl Jam (bassist Doug Pinnick has subbed for PJ bassist Jeff Ament many times) they will tell you that King’s X is one of the best bands around.

What got me thinking about King’s X was a recent documentary I had caught on Ovation TV called “Electric Purgatory.” It dealt with racism in rock music and how black rock bands really couldn’t get too far in the business. Jimi Hendrix was the exception. And this ties into King’s X because Doug Pinnick, the singer/bassist who was one of several musicians interviewed for this documentary, is black. What does that mean? To me, nothing. King’s X is heavy rock’s answer to the Beatles, with phenomenal vocal harmonies, incredible arrangements, and to go one up on the Beatles, extraordinary musicianship. I just downloaded their newest CD from Amazon, called “XV” and in my humble opinion, every song on it should be tearing up the radio. Check out the lead track here, called “Pray.”

I invite everyone to check these guys out because, good music is good music. Maybe the music industry can look past one’s skin and just accept the talent within. All I can say is “Thank God for the Internet.” These guys have been around for 25+ years, and continue to make great groove-heavy rock 'n' roll. Check them out at

And while you’re listening, try a nice German Riesling. And say, “screw the suits, King’s X rocks!”


Mike said...

I remember their brief foray into the pop charts with "It's Love." All of my guitarist friends absolutely loved them.

k2 said...

Yeah, and everyone says I resemble Ty Tabor a bit.