Independence Day Reds and LAs BEST Flamenco!!

UH HOW HOW HOW HOW. Here are the reviews for red wines from the Fourth. From Northern Italy to Beaujolais’ venerable Marcel Lapierre. There’s more. We have a review of an incredible Flamenco troupe playing in LA that you MUST SEE [ed. he rarely says that about wines]. Arte y Pureza is the inspired vision of Ethan Margolis and Company and we watched them conjure their feverish magic, melding dance with the traditional Gypsy music of Southern Spain. FLAMENCO!! Even when wines are this riveting…they are NOT this riveting! But then dance is fleeting…as is wine in most cases…so you need something EXTRA. Arte y Pureza has it.

We must begin with the dance. Two venues, two lineups. At Cafe WAS in Hollywood the group featured a drummer, electric bass, Margolis on traditional string guitar and two dancers; Cihtli Ocampo and another young women devoted to the trance of the dance. You can see right away Margolis’ presentation of traditional Flamenco is anything but traditional. The second night in a restaurant venue was strictly traditional. He worked his vision into shape over ten years in Sevilla, heart of the Arte. The next show was traditional: Ethan on guitar, Cihtli dancing and a third singer doing the flamenco scat-singing and clapping in rhythm. No rock or jazz or blues. But when did he get the idea that James Brown’s Its a Mans World [ed. James Brown!! Hit me! Good God!!!] and the Doors’ Spanish Caravan [ed. experience at bottom] fit the groove? We asked. He revealed.

tBoW: How did you realize that Rock, Blues and Jazz would fit with flamenco?
A&P: After many years of living flamenco in Andalucia amongst some of Spain’s most powerful performers I began to see similarities between the music that I grew up with – blues and rock – and flamenco music. I think that many music genres can fit together to make interesting fusions as long as the person doing the ‘fusing’ possesses knowledge of the genres involved…of course at that point one begins to experiment with exactly what elements to fuse from each genre…you can’t fuse everything, kind of have to pick you know? like maybe flamenco rhythms and blues verses, or flamenco melodies and jazz chord voicings…it really depends on what you want your end product to be…..too much in the pot makes for an ambiguous taste…you gotta pick your ingredients carefully and decide which ones work well together and which ones do not….I think the blues verses are the most similar to flamenco verses as far as western music goes, but then the improvisation that is found within jazz is also very similar….I guess the ‘song’ aspect in blues works well substituting flamenco song, and musically, jazz improv concept especially rhythmically works very well….as far as rock goes, there are moments on the flamenco guitar when you feel like your strumming away all your demons…I imagine that’s how lots of rockers feel when they’re wailing away through a big stack…..

tBoW: Why did you choose the songs you chose? Do you have plans to include Jimi’s Spanish Castle Magic?

A&P: I chose songs that I thought would work well with my voice. I also chose songs that I can play with a lot. The songs have to have space because flamenco has lots of space. The singer can come in and out whenever he/she wants. They aren’t tied to a specific moment that they have to come in on like in pop music. Songs that swing in a 6/8 feel are especially friendly to the flamenco rhythmic phrasing.

tBoW: Why did you and Cihtli decide to move to LA? Instead of NYC or Chicago or even San Francisco? It would seem you could probably book a regular gig in Vegas.

A&P: My wife and I moved out of Spain when the economy hit bottom. It’s been really hard for all of our friends and fellow artists out there. I started to get scared that I would wake up at 50 years of age and have no ability to return to the States and work…you know, like maybe I would play well, but no one would know who the hell I was outside of southern Spain. We both felt like we should develop a foundation in the USA as well as the base we’ve been working at in Spain for so many years. We chose LA cause we love California and because flamenco is really big here. People know of it and actually seek it out. LA is a home for the industry as everyone knows, so why not be in good weather, supported by flamenco fans, and be living and working in the center of the music biz. As far as Las Vegas goes, bring it on! We’d love to.

Pause. Breathe. Exhale.

The party at Papa Fred’s Shack came with an outstanding array of red wines. Some struggled to find the words. “It’s like…like…really…really like.” No matter. That’s why if you really enjoy wine and you struggle to find the words you take a course like Lady Jane with her Wild Horse.

2009 Gascon Malbec $20: From an ocean of red wine here is the Gulf Stream of Mendoza reds. Easy drinking. Middle weight. What’s not to like. We were eating steak. This would cut the chimichurri with the gamey flavors of grass fed beef. What’s not to like? Of course, if you’re a Malbec snob you might think there’s one producer putting out 10 million bottles and slapping 1,000 different labels on the run. Whatever. This is good wine. 13.9%

2009 Chateau Cambon $21: The most controversial wine of the tasting for those who know better, i.e., snob vets. The nose is super funky. The color dark as a blood blister. Is it brett? Is it flawed? Dotoré says you betcha. But he is too quick to judge; a flaw in itself..especially for a pro. This wine is tight. It calls out Cabernet Franc. Then a more patient Kriss says it is like a Bourgogne Rouge and it has the same profile as the Rosé from 2 hours earlier: strong, distinctive, not friendly, s-e-r-i-o-u-s. Smells And tastes Burgundian. Five days later the wine has settled down. Lesson? Wait 3 years to open another. Verdict? Glad we have it. 13%

2002 Penafiel Crianza $15: Good to see this Rioja with some years on it. This is lovely. Dusty reed and dusty flavors like Rutherford bench. Of course, this is 100% Tempranillo. Soft and quite a pleasure. 13.5%

2004 Stefano Farina Barolo $35: This producer is usually one of the first to offer his Barolo to the market which means it is often softer and less “serious” certainly than Altare, Clerico or any Conterno. But this is not early. This is an impressive wine, like a sinewy bullfighter. Muscular without being brawny. Plenty of stuffing and characteristic flavors. The tar is definitely there. Floral aromas make sure this will not be confused with a Super Tuscan. Nyuk nyuk. Decanted and aerated this wine refused to tap out. A very good buy in 2004.


  1. Wavatar
    Kriss says:

    I’m actually drinking another bottle of Cambon rouge right now that I opened 3 days ago, decanted, and then left in the fridge. I probably should have started on it yesterday, but it is still pretty fresh today. It definitely tastes like a mixture of pinot and beaujolais, kind of like a passetoutgrains. The palate tastes exactly like tart, but ripe bing cherries. It’s definitely still on the lighter side, especially for the vintage, but it has put on a lot of weight since day one. Verdict is that it is indeed a great wine.

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    igty says:

    the difference in taste between the best and worst malbecs is so negligible even the great doctore would be stumpped to distinguish. why waste your time –buy the cheapest. same rule applies to new zealand sauvignon blancs.

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