Vinyl&Wine 17: Nada Surf + Pierre Gaillard Saint Joseph

Creative types of people have a tendency to become in their own thoughts, stuck in their heads, and distracted by their form of self-deprecating abuse. I find myself lost in thought many times when I am writing these blogs or working on other projects and it can become pretty frustrating. Many times I just have to quit the work and return later to finish it. Sometimes, I just scrape the whole thing all together. When my brain gets scrambled, that is when I tend to listen bands I used to listen to in high school. Many of those bands have long been defunct, but I have a handful that I are still playing to mid-size venues all over and have cult following. One of my favorites is Nada Surf. I always thought their band name was a bunch of nonsense, something the guys just came up with and probably only has meaning to themselves, but when I briefly referenced their Wikipedia page it states the following quote from founding band member Matthew Caws: “it's actually referring to something much more existential, it's just surfing on nothing. Being lost in your head or in your imagination but you know, whenever I listen to music I always find myself off somewhere. Somewhere in space. You know, in mental space and it's a reference to that.”

I recently purchased their newest release on vinyl, The Stars are Indifferent to Astronomy. Without any hesitation, I can say I was extremely pleased with the vinyl. It takes me back to their critically acclaimed 2002 release, Let Go, which had been my favorite release to date. It was such a favorite record of mine that one of it tracks made it on to my wedding playlist. The Stars are Indifferent to Astronomy has a very similar tone and passion to it. Most people will only remember the band from their mid-1990’s summer anthem hit, Popular. You can probably hear the chorus in your head now. Nada Surf has such a classic indie rock trio sound to them, but with further examination, their lyrics are extremely deep and well written. They pair the vocals with music that is fairly simplistic to the ear and a production quality that brings each aspect of the songs to hit the perfect peaks and valleys to draw your emotional chords back and forth. Right now, this vinyl is on the top of my stack of records meaning, I have been playing this a lot and I have been on a French wine kick. I often imagine spending a month or two traveling Europe visiting vineyards and century’s old cities. Nada Surf is one of the bands I imagine being on my soundtrack to the journey. When I dug deeper into the band, I learned that Matthew Caws and Daniel Lorca spent their childhood in Belgium and France, which has solidified itself into my taste buds and ear buds when playing this vinyl. For me, Nada Surf paired with French Wine will always be combined in my household.

If you have read any of the previous posts, it is no secret that one of my favorite wines are syrah’s from France. It doesn’t really matter where it is from, they all seem to have characteristics that strike a chord with me like music of Nada Surf. The wine growing region of the Rhone Valley makes some of the best in the country and in the world. Cote Rotie and Chateaunuef-du-pape are arguably the most famous of the appellations of the valley, but one of my favorites it the AOC of Saint Joseph and my pick is from the producer Pierre Gaillard. This region is the second largest under vine and primarily makes red wines with Syrah as the regions superstar. Under AOC regulations, the wines are allowed up to 10% viognier into the blend, a white wine varietal. It sounds a little strange to blend a white wine with a red wine, but there are specific reasons to do so. As brooding and intense as the syrah grapes are from the region, they sometimes will fall short in certain years with aromatics and the color may fade quicker than desired over the years. The properties of the viognier really add extra aromatics to the syrah and helps stabilize the deep, rich, violet hue of the wine; I like to call that, adding pizazz. I like to think that the reason the early wine makers started adding this white varietal to an already proven red wine was because they were lost in their creativity and weren’t sure which way to go after years of producing wines and fending off their own “nada surf.”

As prim and proper as the wine world is these days, the absurdity of the varietal collaboration could have been done out of the creativity to either solving a problem or creation of something new. Now it is the standard. The members of Nada Surf seem to do this with every new album they release. They already have such great pieces of work, but the 10% of something a little extra, a little absurd, a little against-the-grain, makes Nada Surf 22 years strong and still going. I cannot wait for the next Nada Surf release and vinyl. 

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