I don’t always watch the news every morning. For the most part, the local news is boring in the morning. It is filled with traffic updates every five minutes, quick blurbs about late night mischievous, and the weather report. Lately, I have been watching the weather report a lot. It seems lately this winter just won’t go away. Last weekend, the sky dumped almost 10 inches of snow on us and was 60 degrees a couple days later. It is beginning to feel a little frustrating. My face every morning is becoming reminiscent of Bill Murray’s in the movie Groundhogs day. When going fingering through my vinyls this week, I came across a vinyl that made me laugh. It was Heavy Weather by Weather Report. “Finally, a forecast I want to see,” I said to myself. It has always been a favorite of mine. Weather Report is one of the best jazz fusion groups from the 1970s and early 1980s.
As a Miles Davis fan, I have explored all of his music, even into his weirder fusion albums like the famous Bitches Brew. Weather Report creator, Joe Zawinul (keyboards) and Wayne Shorter (saxophone), were integral in the early days of Miles Davis’s fusion binges backing him and collaborating with him on many occasions. Zawinul and Shorter soon went full time with their own concept of jazz fusion, free jazz, or exploration jazz. The first song I ever heard by Weather Report was called Birdland. It is one of their catchier songs and most popular. It is a great introduction and full of grooves with a lot of bass. Right off the bat it has at tempo that gets your blood moving and little unexpected fills and licks that make you smile, maybe are even a little humorous. Heavy Weather isn’t all catchy, it does go into deep atmospheric jams, and even some hard to grasp fusions that may just sound like a lot of noise to non-fusion music fans. When played straight through on my record player, Heavy Weather sounds like a motion picture soundtrack with ups and downs, and a full range of emotions. It is actually very similar to outrageous weather we have been experiencing in upstate New York this past month. When we are stuck inside on these everlasting snow days and there is nothing else to do, pop a bottle of wine and enjoy a good Weather Report for once. Like the versatility of the Weather Reports music, Riesling makes a great pairing and a wine we always have in cellar.
In my eyes, Riesling is the most noble of all grape varietals for a number of different reasons. It can be made in many different styles from dessert, to off-dry, to the far opposite of bone dry. It is a cool climate grape and grows well in regions like France, Washington, Germany, Austria, and New York. Rieslings age very well, and is my preferred bottle. As they age, they show more nuances of petroleum and concentrated apricot flavors. My taste buds lend themselves to the most extreme of flavor profiles, bone dry and ice wine. The best Riesling I have ever drank was a 1997 Trimbach clos St Hune from France. I drank that bottle with a roasted vegetable terrine and roasted tomato Riesling aioli. Recently, my favorites have been the Lake Dana Vineyard releases from Fox Run Vineyards, Boundary Breaks Vineyards, and Austrian Rieslings. When I can get it, Tegernseerhof Vineyards located on the Danube River in what I consider the most beautiful part of the country I have seen, is my absolute favorite. Like founding member of Weather Report and Austrian, Joe Zawinul, the Rieslings from the Wachau region are complex, deep, rich, and sometimes airy and catchy. Owner/ Winemaker Martin Mittlbach is at the top of his game and winning awards all over Europe and receiving great scores in publications like Wine Enthusiast and Wine and Spirits. He has been able to a wide range of complex flavors and the unique versatility of the grape itself across his lineup of single vineyard releases.
Heavy Weather and Tegernseerhof make a great pairing, especially with the chaotic weather we have been experiencing. If you cannot, find Tegernseerhof where you live, I suggest trying any Austrian Riesling you can get your hands, or your favorite one in general. I promise you won’t be disappointed with the overall experience.