Happiness is a knock on the door and the UPS man hands you a package with wine in it. In this case, it was from my college friend Maria, who works for Maison La Belle Vie winery in Colorado. I’d only had one Colorado wine in my life and that was a very long time ago, so this particular Malbec was as good as square one. Maria’s actually from New York, so choosing the record was a treat—and a solid justification for buying an album I’d had my eye on for awhile.
I’d been wanting to buy a copy of the Ultimate Frank Sinatra Collection since I’d first heard about it. My Best Of record was from those “mud on the tracks” days in the 80s, but even then, it didn’t sound bad—and all I really thought I had to have was “The Summer Wind,” and “That’s Life.” The new record offered obvious improvement even before hearing it: it had those two tracks, plus “My Way,” all on the same side. What I got was a pretty good lesson on Sinatra’s career path, starting with “All or Nothing at All,” where he was singing the way he was told to, later moving into the style that was all his. By the time Nelson Riddle took over the arrangements, The Voice had come into his own.
The wine had a dark, deep ruby red and I wondered if it might be a bit too brooding for the music. But by the time I got to “I’ve Got You Under My Skin,” it had opened up and an intense blackberry note had come up in the nose. Black plum and black cherry flavors brought images of a smoky supper club. Everything was just fine.
The album’s remastering was top flight, I thought. That voice is right up front as it should be, and certainly as it would be in one of his performances. By the time I got to “The Summer Wind,” I could think about the cocoa and espresso finish. At length, because I picked up the needle and played it again. OK, three times. It’s my favorite. After that, I felt an overwhelming need to watch The Pope of Greenwich Village.
Frank Sinatra was cool. Actually, Frank’s still cool (even if Miles was the birth of cool). And so was the wine. I poured the last sip and savored the cassis, black currants, and licorice notes of a pretty good New World Malbec. I was glad I’d had the chance to try it, so I raised my glass to my friend in Colorado and put on one last song.