SIP & SPIN: Wind Gap Soif and Tame Impala’s Currents

200-wineabsolutely! DELICIOUS | By Paul Killingsworth –

I wonder who the first kid was to pick up an old plastic milk crate and throw his records in it.  There were likely some brand new vinyl crates being sold out in the marketplace that were shiny, perfect and made out of some show-off material – literally. But, in an effort to save some extra cash for his next record, he settled for the economical alternative. The kid was a forerunner using reclaimed material before it was cool.

There is an old proverb, “There’s nothing new under the sun,” and while that can be a little sobering, it’s true. We all have inspiration to be creative in different ways, but much of what we “create” is really just looking at something from a different angle or recycling a thought, image or sound from our past. Here are two examples that surprised me in terms of creativity, originality and the use of reclaimed materials, sounds, tastes and textures.

The Perfect Pairing

Wind Gap Soif

Wind Gap winery and tasting room is not very typical when compared to the glitz and glamour of tasting rooms in Napa. All of the wines are made in a warehouse, and customers can taste the wines on tapped kegs right in the heart of Sonoma County in Sebastopol, California. All of the grapes come from different cool-climate vineyards around northern California.

The heart behind the operation, Pax Mahle, said, “Many of our vineyards are planted along or are directly influenced by one wind gap or another. These geological breaks in the coastal hills funnel wind inland and strongly influence the growing and ripening of our grapes. It seems only fitting to us that our name should celebrate the forces of nature that are shaping our wines.” Soif is the French word for “thirst,” which makes perfect sense. There is a crispy salinity to this red that makes one keep coming back for more.

Mahle, who is also the winemaker, did some crazy things when crafting this unique blend. First, he used rare grape varieties that are normally found growing in France and Italy: Valdiguie, Syrah, Mourvedre, Negroamaro and Dolcetto. The winemaking process he used, carbonic maceration, ferments grapes, sometimes the whole cluster, without the normal “crushing” step that releases the juice. The whole berries are put into a fermenting vessel, and the weight of the grapes on the top breaks the skins on the bottom, releasing the juice. Then, the sugar from the juice comes in contact with the native yeasts on the outside of the grape skins. Fermentation begins, and then the sugars inside the unbroken grapes slowly turn into wine. The result is a wine of incredible freshness, fruitiness and energy.

Once the fermentation was complete, Mahle put the juice in 500 gallon concrete eggs. Concrete is a great way of retaining the freshness in a wine, all the while letting it breathe without flavoring it with the addition of oak. The finished wine is awesome.   

Tame Impala’s Currents

Easily my favorite record from 2015, Kevin Parker – the lead singer, writer, arranger, producer and face of the band – set a new
standard with his album Currents. From track one, he laughs at the status quo of “the perfect three-minute radio song” with the killer track Let It Happen at a breeze-by of 7:48. This sets the tone for what happens on the following tracks, and it’s nothing new, really.

300-lpDrumbeats nod to the funk world using primarily high-hat, kick, snare and the random tasty tom reminiscent of The Meters. Its rock and roll bass lines are really bass lines – not your thought-out subwoofer effect or a producer trying to fill up a mix. Its electric guitar and vintage synth sounds are on a spectrum of super crunchy and raw, all the way to mellow, smooth and sexy. Sometimes there are tons of affects on the vocals, and sometimes it’s dry. It’s a rollercoaster that’s either broken down or breaking your neck.

Bands like Tame Impala are finding a way – just like Wind Gap – to use modern technology to make something new from something that’s been used before and make it better. Evolution? Recycling? Do we love it? Yes, yes and yes.