No matter what kind of music you listen to, there are few artists that are universally recognized as the “best” at their craft. Miles Davis was the best jazz trumpet player ever to grace our ears with horn-blown poetry. There is not a jazz musician in the world that would ever argue that point. The same goes for Jimi Hendrix. As a guitar player, a fan of blues and rock n’ roll music, I hereby declare Hendrix as the best guitar player to ever live. That statement may fall on deaf ears from years of amplified speakers cranked to 11 and snickering “Yeah, duuuh’s” from all of you who read this. When I first started playing guitar and got a hold of Hendrix’s greatest hits album, I have to admit that I wasn’t fond of it. I truly didn’t understand it. Maybe it was because I was only a novice guitar player at the time. I may have been more upset that I didn’t know what Hendrix was doing. I could hear the elements of blues oozing out of the speakers, but there was a driving force to his songs and it wasn’t just straight blues, it was madness, it was out of this world and all over the place. I was drawn to clean cut styles of B.B. King and Clapton early on. He was a tormented player that pushed himself to the limits of his abilities. In 1961, Hendrix began playing the guitar at the age of 15, and only a mere 6 years later he played one of his most iconic performances ever recorded at the Monterey Pop Festival. His vinyl record, Are you Experienced?, is now in the regular rotation on my turntable. Playing off an original Reprise Records pressing, I can only imagine what I was like to sit in the control booth listening to Hendrix play guitar. The vinyl feature Hendrix signature guitar feedback improvisation style and to me is the best album he ever released. When I have some zinfandel in the house, I usually have a Rosenblum Cellars Richard Sauret Reserve Zinfandel among the selections. It is my perfect pairing with my Hendrix vinyl. Hendrix was born to play guitar, just as Kent Rosenblum was meant to make the deep, rich styles of California zinfandel.
In 1978, a mere 11 years after Are You Experienced was released, Kent Rosenblum opened Rosenblum Cellars in Alameda California not far from the legendary Monterey Pop Festival performance site. Rosenblum is highly regarded as the “King of Zin” in California by his peers and followers. Rosenblum did not follow traditional wine making norms in the late 1970s and 1980s. He chose growing sites that were off the beaten path and focused his attention on the Zinfandel grape, a grape traditionally and originally noted to be a native California grape. Genealogists would later discover its links to grapes of Italian descent, but that didn’t matter at all, because California is the greatest spot in the world to grow Zinfandel. Rosenblum knew he could take the grape and truly let it shine. No matter what vineyard sites his grapes came from, mountainside or valley floor vineyards, Rosenblum always puts out top notch wine. Just has other performer’s watched Jimi Hendrix play his iconic Monterey concert and shared at him in awe and probably thought he was an alien from Mars, other wine makers must feel the same way about Kent Rosenblum with every Zinfandel he released. He was a true icon in the Zinfandel world, Dr. Zin, The King of Zins. John Kane is now the winemaker at Rosenblum. After working next Kent Rosenblum for 9 years, he still continues with the Rosenblum Legacy of incredible wines and signature styles.
If you own Are You Experienced? and love Zinfandel, do yourself a favor and find a bottle of Rosenblum Cellars Zinfandel. It doesn’t have to be a single vineyard if you can’t find, the Paso Robles and Sonoma zins are fantastic choices. The pairing of this vinyl and zinfandel will send you into a welcomed state of madness and you will find yourself transcending to a whole new place. So pour a glass, turn the volume up, turn off your cell phone, and take the ride.