Vinyl lovers like me are often—frequently—constantly—accused of being flat earthers, but if you have a fondness for vintage hi fi, you’re really getting it from all sides. “Rob, there has been tremendous technology released since you were in high school…” (I get the same thing in bike shops when people see the friction shifters on my venerable De Rosa bike, too. In the same helpful tone.) A visit to Teutonic Wine Factory rekindled my fondness for that distinctly 70s sound.
We were there to review the "Teutonic Wine Tavern" for American Winery Guide so instead of drinking one bottle with a record, this was a wine flight of several great wines. And while it was some of the most fun I’ve had in a tasting room, it’s also significant that this Vine+Vinyl was on the road, on another turntable than my trusted Linn Sondek. Teutonic’s Pro-Ject turntable was brand new and quite capable, but my geek flag went up when they cranked a Sansui integrated amp into a pair of big, vintage JBLs hanging in the back of the room.
“4130s!” exclaimed winemaker Barnaby Tuttle as he pointed at me with a grin. It was a gleeful boast and a well-earned brag for him, a trip down memory lane for me. This was a coveted system when I first got into hifi back in high school. A few years later, my college radio mentor at the Eulipion Jazz Network played a new Steve Tibbetts album on a pair of those things. Good times. Very LOUD times.
Assistant winemaker Alex Neely put on Miles Davis Dark Magus, recorded live at Carnegie hall in 1974 (a warm up for the acid funk that was to come, from a band that hadn't quite solidified). Then he rolled out the red carpet and poured a long flight of great wines. That’s a good day by any measure, made all the more fun with a decent sounding music system. But, just like a Miles Davis album, there was a moment where it was wise to stop, pause, and contemplate a particular movement. In this case it was Teutonic’s 2013 Deep Probe.
Like Dark Magus, the 2013 Deep Probe is made by a "band" that breaks a lot of rules (Portland's Tripod Project, of which Barnaby is a member). Or, as Alex cogently explained, “It begs the philosophical question, “What is a flaw?” Tart red fruit flavors, but a strange nose that reminded me of orange wine. Like orange wines, it was interesting and had, shall we say, redeeming values because of its peculiarity. OK, I’ll admit it: I didn’t love it. But I think it woke up my taste buds for the rest of the flight that Alex was pouring. Orange wine has gained traction because of those peculiarities, intriguing food pairings and a whole lot of nerd appeal. Deep Probe made me think and it made me think about wine differently than I had been, in much the same way that listening to Miles Davis made me think differently about music (John Cage plays the same role for a lot of classical listeners, and asks similar questions). That’s invaluable.
After that, upon returning home, I shuffled around my stereo and plugged my old Marantz 2252b back into the system. Then I put on Agharta, the next step in the saga that’s often called Miles Davis’s “difficult years—” my favorites, actually. Maybe the Marantz is a little loose with the details, but it’s warm, lush and easy to listen to all night long. And even if I can’t always play it as loud as I’d like, I can always pour another glass of wine and put on another record.