Alibi Volume 17, Number 48
November 27, 2008
Gruet's Methode Champenoise
Laurent Gruet is an animated character, to say the least. He possesses an unsettling self-assuredness, balanced with a quick grin and easy laugh. He talks fast with a thick French accent while wildly gesturing with his hands. It would be foolish, though, to not look deeper than his surface qualities, because beneath his playful, even boyish, demeanor is an intense man driven by a singular passion: wine.
Wine according to Rudolfo Anaya
People the world over know Rudolfo Anaya as the writer that has most eloquently articulated the Chicano experience for other cultures to appreciate. Most famous as the author of Bless Me, Ultima, Anaya is a retired UNM professor and a children’s book author, but few know that he is also an oenophile and wine critic. He's penned a series of wine reviews based on "The 12 Days of Christmas," in which he rated one wine a day. Here's a sample offering, in which this literary doyen clearly expresses the passion and poetry inherent in wine.
There's a saying among wine experts: "TYOP," or trust your own palate. Ultimately, only you can determine what’s good and bad in wine, so read what you can and attend tastings to discover which varietals and styles you like most. You'll figure out what's required for a wine to be above average or stellar along the way. Once you learn the basics, the rest is fairly subjective. Complexity (multidimensional flavors and aromas), balance and finish are what give a good wine its distinguishing characteristics. Over time, you'll be able to determine if a wine is flawed, how to properly pair food with wine, even which importer's products and which winemaker’s styles you have a preference for. You might even learn to identify the regional characteristics of a wine from a particular area.
What are we fighting for?
There are a lot of wine terms the average drinker has to contend with: body, bouquet, legs, nose, yada yada yada. But the most disputed is terroir. Terroir is defined as a group of vineyards (or even vines) from the same region, belonging to a specific appellation, and sharing the same type of soil, weather conditions, grapes and winemaking savoir-faire, which contribute to the specific personality of a wine.
Red, White, and Drunk All Over: A Wine-Soaked Journey from Grape to Glass by Natalie MacLean (Bloomsbury USA, 2006)
Local sci-fi novelist chats up a real-life space station commander
Walter Jon Williams found a unusual e-mail in his inbox in August. It was from NASA. Col. Mike Fincke would be lifting off in October, heading to the International Space Station for a four-month stint as its commander. The colonel’s a fan of Williams' work and is reading Implied Spaces—in space.
Do proposed air quality regulations go far enough?
Before a company starts sending pollutants into the air in your neighborhood, you should know about it.
Is the city looking to hire private contractors to handle some of its recycling? Councilor Michael Cadigan wants to know. He started the Monday, Nov. 17 meeting by questioning Chief Operating Officer Ed Adams about the administration's plans. Adams said the city’s sorting facility is at maximum capacity, and the option's on the table. Cadigan said it would be better for the city to make money off recycling without going through a middleman. Farming the work to private companies, said Councilor Rey Garduño, sounds like privatization to him. Cadigan said he hoped the Council would be included in such a decision before the city signed what would have to be a big contract.
Dateline: Russia—Officials from the Russian Orthodox Church told BBC News that a 200-year-old church was recently stolen. The Church of the Resurrection had stood near the village of Komarovo since 1809. It was still standing in July, but some time in early October, thieves made off with it brick by brick. The disappearance of the historic church was not immediately noticed since it was in an out-of-the-way area and was not being used at the time. Church officials said they had been considering resuming services there. Unfortunately, all that remains now are the foundations and some sections of wall. It is assumed the church was sold off for building materials.
This Thanksgiving weekend, Albuquerque filmmakers David C. Valdez and Philip H.R. Gunn are pulling the curtain back on their crazed feature film debut, Klown Kamp Massacre. The campy horror/comedy will have its world premiere this Friday (10:30 p.m.), Saturday (10:30 p.m.) and Sunday (1 p.m.) at Guild Cinema in Nob Hill. According to the filmmakers (who oughta know), Klown Kamp Massacre “masterfully blends gratuitous sex, clown-on-clown violence and fart jokes.” Imagine Friday the 13th with cream pies and you’re halfway there. The film stars local actors Ross Kelly, Isaac Kappy, Chris Payne, Jared Herholtz, Dan Gutierrez and Tara Hahn and includes a special cameo by Troma Films president Lloyd Kaufman. If blood, boobs and balloon animals aren’t enough to convince you to get out there and support local film, this weekend’s screenings will also feature the very first trailers for Phillip Hughes’ Jigoku and Ryan Denmark’s Romeo and Juliet vs. the Living Dead. Tickets are $8 and are available in advance at the Guild box office (3405 Central NE, 255-1848).
Literate doc explores a man of letters
The average American will be forgiven for not knowing the name Dalton Trumbo. A generation ago, he was the poster child for free speech, unfettered artistic expression and the consequences of government run amok. Today, he at least rates a paragraph (more or less) to himself in most film history textbooks.
Euro-action series runs out of gas in third lap
The fact that Transporter 3 is directed by a guy named Olivier Megaton bears repeating. Not only is this guy French, he’s a former graffiti artist and has voluntarily rechristened himself after a high-yield nuclear device. That should give you a fairly clear idea of Transporter 3’s caliber. It’s the bomb, baby! ... If you’re into loud, frantic and aggressively unsubtle cinema, that is.
“Estate of Panic” and “Cha$e” on Sci-Fi
Sci-Fi Channel has been struggling with an identity crisis of late. I’m not sure why. It’s all clearly laid out right there in the name. Nonetheless, executives at the cable net seem confused. How else to explain “Extreme Championship Wrestling”? Or the reluctance to greenlight “Caprica”?
The Week in Sloth
Yes, Virginia, there are bars that are open Thanksgiving night. Skip to the Music Calendar for Alibi-verified entertainment. Whether you're out to toast your relatives or escape them is your call.
Separating earth and sky
It’s hard for artists to explain where their music comes from or what they hope it achieves. Shara Worden does both with ease.
Spend Saturday, Nov. 29, with Our Years with Light, Dude Party, Dan Clucas Quartet, Milton Melvin Croissant III and dugoutcanoe at The Albuquerque Center for Peace & Justice (SE corner of Harvard and Silver). All-ages, $6. Get there by 8:30 p.m. or you’ll be a turkey. (LM)
As you're reading this, you're most likely somewhere in the process of dealing with food; preparing, digesting, hoarding or reheating. Giving thanks for intangibles such as religious freedom and paid holidays is exhausting, which is reflected in the dearth of stuff going on this week. Once the first weekend of December hits, though, you'll be one busy consumer. So let me encourage you to avail yourself of the calm before the holiday storm (which may or may not be metaphorical) and enjoy these events at a leisurely, sated pace.
Belen’s Through the Flower Gallery shows Maureen Burdock’s feminist graphic novels
When feminist graphic novelist Maureen Burdock says she “can take a bad situation and transmute it with humor and with grace,” she’s being modest. Burdock has managed to find the light side in both incest and femicide. She is one of two winners of Through the Flower Gallery’s Feminists Under Forty juried competition.
When it comes to vino, New Mexico has been in the ball game since 1629, when the first vines were planted in Socorro. This was years before the first Napa plantings were even a thought. Before you go jetting off to California’s wine country for your next tasting, investigate the ultra-hip regional wine destinations in your own backyard.
Michael Cooperman's genteel approach to demystifying wine
There's much about wine that's open to satire, but no aspect of the industry is more caricatured than the sommelier. Wine experts have always been humorously depicted in popular culture as being erudite and intimidating in their patronizing indifference toward non-experts. The classic depiction of a wine steward is a tall, thin foreigner who belittles you for your lack of politesse.