Monday, July 20, 2009


Back when I started singing in clubs, it was right around the end of the ‘80s, and like most rock star wannabes, I wanted to sing my own music, not copy others. I scribbled lyrics on everything and had a particular vision in my head of what I wanted my band’s music to sound like. And then, almost magically, I heard them. Alice in Chains. They sounded exactly how I had wanted to sound, and wrote the songs I always wanted to write. Jerry Cantrell was everything I could have ever looked for in a collaborator, and the music was dead on where I was coming from at that time. I can still listen to them with the same kind of envious revelry that I had for them 20 years ago.

Lead singer Layne Staley, long sufferer with addiction, succumbed to it a few years ago, and like most fans of the band, I thought they were over. But the buzzing in recent years of comeback shows with guest vocalists fueled speculation that they were returning to the scene as Alice In Chains, and indeed, they are back now, with new lead singer William DuVall from the band Comes With The Fall out of Atlanta. A relative unknown, yet he served as guitarist and backing vocalist to guitarist Cantrell’s solo work, so a rapport has long been established. I know a lot of die-hard rock fans always grimace when a group picks up the pieces after losing a frontman (to death, ego, or whatever), and replacing him or her with someone else. It changes the dynamic of the band, and many find it unforgiveable, but I have never been one to jump on that bandwagon. Hell, I thought John Corabi was the best thing to happen to Motley Crue, but in this instance, AIC singer Staley was a double-edged sword for the rest of the band – a great singer, but limited to rarely performing, much due to his addictions. Now, with a different singer, a fresh perspective, and after a long hiatus, they sound terrific.

I first caught a glimpse of the new video, “A Looking in View,” while cracking open a Pascual Toso Reserve Malbec 2007. (I know, how do segue from grunge metal to Malbec?) Like starting in music, when I started in the wine business, I tried to figure out what wines did I really enjoy, and what producers and what importers do I want to support? Obviously, in the wine business, we cannot play favorites because it’s all about selling wine, which is different than being a music fan. However, I can honestly say I have never been so committed to a company as T.G.I.C. Importers, the company responsible for bringing Pascual Toso to the U.S. A hard fought liaison would be a complete understatement here. I’ve discussed before in this blog and with my customers the degrees of difficulty I have encountered trying to get these wines in the state, and keep them in the state, for all consumers to enjoy, not just the consumers who shop a certain wine store chain down state.

Anyway, the Pascual Toso Reserve Malbec 2007 is a rich, complex Malbec with almost an entire gamut of IHOP syrup aromas (blueberry, raspberry, boysenberry), plush plum, smoky vanilla, mocha, espresso, and loads of blue and red fruit flavors throughout its long finish. It is a fine red wine that makes me glad I fight tooth and nail to keep it in the store.

And in an odd-sort-of-tie-in, it makes me glad that Alice In Chains are coming back to kick our asses again. Unlike some of the talking heads in the news today, these guys don’t quick, regardless of tragedy. Look for the new CD, “Black Gives Way to Blue,” due out September 29th. And check out Pascual Toso Reserve Malbec, in our stores right now.



Beth said...

Nice blog with a nice title "WINE & MUSIC: PASCUAL TOSO AND ALICE IN CHAINS" Enjoyed going through your blog. Keep it up the good work. Beth

Mike said...

AIC was a fave of mine for a LONG time, too. Staley had a once-in-a-rock-generation voice, so I'm not surprised that my first reaction was, "Wow, that sounds kinda overproduced" -- but it's just different. It is an asskicking wall of sludge, though -- thanks for sharing.

(But dude, what about Nickelback and Fall Out Boy?)