free run juice

rhone wine is slammin’

Many people have said “Writing about music is like dancing about architecture.” Can’t really replicate one art form with another – unless you’re writing poems about wine! Why haven’t we done more of this?

Rhone Valley Wines had a brilliant event where they poured out wines from different regions of the Rhone and then had two poets battle it out against each other with their original poems about each flight.

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the slammers

Michael Madrigale kicked off the ceremonies, contributing his ridiculous knowledge of French wines to the night. He’s the Head Sommelier & Wine Buyer for Bar Boulud, Epicierie Boulud & Boulud Sud where I often drink, and this was probably the only time I’d ever not seen him in a suit and tie.

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We started out with some grilled octopus and a Cote du Rhones flight. Cotes du Rhone is a great, affordable option – nothing mindblowing, but pretty dependable. Mike said that whenever people text him from a wine store asking what to buy, he usually tells them to get a Cotes du Rhone.

We then moved on to spaghetti with crab, ramps, and lemon. This was ridiculously good, but screamed for a white wine so was sort of an odd pairing with the Southern Rhone reds. I just ate and drank separately, and was pretty happy. These blended reds had more character and concentration, the Vacqueyras (70% Grenache and 30% Syrah) was probably my favorite.

Main course was awesome lamb chops with the all-Syrah northern Crus – the best pairing. The Chapoutier ($32) smelled like shit – seriously. That’s a common smell in wine. Does it sound gross and smell grosser? Yep. Does it taste awesome? Yep! This one had tart blackberry, a hint of herbal, and lots of dirty earth. The Guigal ($85) was super oaky, which is a more modern style. Didn’t suck, but the oak and vanilla masked a lot of the fruit. And the last wine – the Jaboulet – was a crazy $320. Hermitage is a super small area, so the wines from there are usually pretty pricey. I did like it though – tons of violets but balanced by a savory meatiness and a muscular, chewy structure. These were all babies to drink, but will get better with lots more age.

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And for dessert, super delicious coconut ice cream in a vanilla meringue with an equally delicious Beaumes de Venise (a sweet wine made from Muscat grapes).

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The poets who rhapsodized about the Rhone were both really different. Mohagany L. Browne was very ethereal, more swirling and romantic in tone.

On the other end of the poetic spectrum, Mikumari Caiyhe was hip and quick, a little more funny.

Totally different styles that not only educated you about the Rhone regions but illuminated different aspects of wine in general – how it elevates and transports you to different places, and then how it just lets you have fun when you pour one out.

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photo 3Loved both of the poets and my vote was truly split – but Mikumari wound up winning the majority of votes (and more importantly, a case of Rhone wine). He also had Rhone wine-colored velvet slippers, which could’ve tipped votes – I mean, probably, right?


Full poems here:


Côtes du Rhône

the heady aroma ignites desire

a desire so perfect — it goes with everything

like women, there is always a shoe to match

the purse, the mood, the magic

like Côtes du Rhône, the wine is always right

always polite how the red hits

the light the aroma, a clean

dry wisp sated a round beauty

can invite casual company

to dinner a dependable requirement

the fragrant aroma invites us to palm the globes

of fruit with both hands

swirl the chilled liquid like there was any other choice

these Villages, home to wonder lush

& landscaped twisting lunches

Côtes du Rhône where the air welcomes a meditation on magic

Southern Rhône Crus

I heard the song of a people can drench the artichokes

and garlic and olive oil into a pan until it smells like home

I heard the gust of a mistral can rip the grapes from the vines

or the horns from the crown of cattle

I heard the cherries can bloom on the tongue and the blush

will introduce itself like most summer mornings, a warm

nod, a certain glance, a necessary rising.

I heard the air sighs loudly in delight, CRUS, as if it were a lover

or a piece of good meat. But isn’t that what we’re promised?

An enchanted forever? A want and hope held in our hands like a stonefruit?

Isn’t that why we cook slow and bake sweet and sing bon appetit?

A lilt in the spirit of a spirit. A life in the sunbaked hills. A rosemary

and thyme gust splitting the soft elegance into a delicious spice.

Our tongues enamored by the red remnants. The roar of clinking glassware.

Listen closely,

can you hear it?

Can you smell it?

Is it licorice?

Is it


Northern Rhône Crus

if you spread both palms to the sky

it can severe the light like a black truffle cavern

the swift stir a simmering pot

the pull of a lean meat

–it all begins with the hands here,

deep hills cradeling difficult vineyards

each harvest — a dimple into the earth

glaring with infinite wisdom every flavor

of chocolate every scent of spice every berry

turned tobacco a saunter of opaque smoke

here, the soil forgives & a harvest of red richness

colors the tongue a flash of surrender

here, the hills are alive

here, the machines are not allowed and

only wonder how dignified and necessary

the hands must feel each digit,

a transaction in the creation of the leather

and liquid each thumb a blacksmith

smoothing out the Syrah like a family

tradition passed down to the next generation

the slow urgent kneading the beck-
oning and burgeoning brilliance here’s

a toast to the glory of our hands

and the bloom it urges forth

All Rhône

Côtes du Rhône, the wine is always right

the aroma, a clean

dry wisp

round beauty

can invite casual company

fragrant aroma

here, we encourage you to

hold the glass with both hands

swirl the chilled wonder lush

welcomes the magic

of artichokes

and garlic and olive oil

and grapes from the vines

and the bloom of cherries

and the summer blush

can bloom on the tongue and the blush

say it with me “CRUS”

as if it were your first love

this enchanted forever

this stonefruit hope

this handful of sweet sunbaked rosemary

hilltop thyme

and gust

and yes it’s coarsing through your body

listen closely

can you hear the simmering pot?

the slow stir

the soil turned and praised

for its bountiful fruit

look at your hands!

each digit a flash of hello

and I make things that bring the body

so much joy

here is a toast to the glory of rhône


Côtes du Rhône

may I have your attention students

Cinsault? Here

Mourvedre? Present

Viognier? Here

Bourboulenc? Here

Syrah? Present

Noir and Blanc Grenache? President


Now that the grapes all hear

Ladies and gentleman

Class shall begin

A beautiful blend

Of spice and spin

Aerate your minds

Extend your vines

Please take notes

No time for jokes

No caps please

Wear your thinking Cotes

Today we’ll learn

Of legacy earned

Make palates yearn

At every turn

Perfect for picnics

Dinners, a party

Good to the spirit

The mind the body

Wise when young

More fun when older

Cool when Luke warm

Bolder when colder

Ready and willing

Appealing to feelings

Concealing the ceiling

In all of your dealings

Fruity and filling

Hearty and healing

Ready for anything even chilling

Spilling and Still

Light on your billing

Inexpensive but priceless

And Worth vermilion

Southern Rhône Crus

Bottle the Mediterranean

Package the calm

Of loose canon

Label it Carmine Kiss

Hers and his story

Speak of the vivid landscapes

Picture perfect

The chatter of Cyprus tree

Symphonies of sunbaked flower fields

Tavel tales or rose reasoning

Reasons to love longer

Basque in the zest

While feasting on the fruit

Savor the flavor mahogany

Mingle the maybe with Vacqueyras

Let it blossom a dry summer

And boast expansive

Sway of robust

Luxuriate black cherry aromas

Whispering laments of easy going

Steeping from one village

hospitable enough to warm

A stadium of flirt

Marry Gigondas and violin

Mercy them keep up the variety

Listen to the olive oil play

Importance like prayer

Smell the green white and purple


Let it linger

In your idea

In your idea of what perfect could be

Share it with the wind

Chase it unchilled

Watch it speak to you in tongues

Pardon it’s humor and sing along

Along the offer

Write a new song

Karaoke it the pebbles that soak the sun

Give them reason to work harder

There is fish in the soil

And seeds in the rain

Thunderstorms beneath the cork

Unscrew the key

to what weather may come

beg no umbrellas

There is a world of possibility inside

Northern Rhône Crus

Cherries would say

Good things come in small packages

Crusader Knights would say

Great things are done

by a fearless gathering of small things

Leonardo Da Vinci said

Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication

that is the discussion

Between rocky hillside

And the velvet valleys lacquered narrow

Amongst dormant winters

And summers fertile

This is the repartee of prestige

The exclusive rights of rarely wrong

Aroma wouldn’t argue

Avalanches triggered sanguine

Dance what the delicate wind sings

Truth often says

Harmony makes small things grow

Einstein’s theory of relativity

Does a fantastic job of explaining large things

Quantum mechanics of Hermitage

Is fantastic for the other end of the spectrum

For small things

Religion preaches

Faith the size of mustard seed

Can move roasted slopes

Coco channel said

Simplicity is the keynote of all elegance

S. Tarr once spoke

Greatness is achieved,

not only by doing great things but also

Making the small things we do great

I wonder what the taste bud would say

If they weren’t so busy agreeing with everything

That had already been said

All Rhône

A timeless take of sophisticate.

Her Smile trapped candlelight Grenache Noir

Sanguine body

Danced away the breath of the Mistral

Gossiped it’s every ambition a shade whimsical

Hills and valleys laid praise

To the song in her body Syrah

The spice in her eyes of Mourvèdre

The Cinsaut soundtrack serenade

Auburn aurora

Aroma arabesque

Pulse of celebration

Morning Midday Midnight

It was her presence

Requested at every walk of life

Any gate. Enter paradise

Embrace rapture

Taste what it means

To not just be alive but to live

To lose yourself

In the memories of what matters

Find yourself

In the exact same village

There was a time

I knew of her but had never met her

I celebrate her hands now

Know what life has been missing

She was everything that everything strived to be

She had been everywhere I wanted to be

Perfect timing was her clocks pasttime

She was never wrong

Always Rhône and Always Right.


One thought on “rhone wine is slammin’

  1. Pingback: rhone wine is slammin' | grapefriend | Which Wine Is Sweet

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