“There’s Liquid On The Brain” (Checking In With Primus And Claypool Cellars, 2018)

“When minds are dripping color, And there’s liquid on the brain
They laugh to one another, And politely go insane”

– Primus, The Dream

Last month, I had the pleasure of (once again) checking out the funky, entertaining, and technically dazzling band Primus, as they rolled through Philly on their Ambushing the Storm tour. Primus are currently playing with fellow prog-influenced band Mastodon in support of The Desaturating Seven, an at turns raucous, pretty, trippy, and virtuosic concept album based on Ul de Rico’s also trippy, gorgeous, and all-too-allegorically-topical-and-relevant-today (hey, one of the goblins is Orange… just sayin’…) children’s book The Rainbow Goblins. The album is played in its entirety during the show, with vibrant and also trippily-fantastic visual accompaniment that, I can tell you from personal experience, goes down even better with a wine-altered state of consciousness.

“There’s Liquid On The Brain” (Checking In With Primus And Claypool Cellars, 2018)As was the case last year, I got to tag along with the VIP Package ticket-holders as a guest of Chaney Claypool, wife of Primus front-man Les Claypool and (along with Les), proprietor of Sonoma-based Claypool Cellars, who have been mentioned on these virtual pages for over eight years (holy crap!) at this point. The current tour VIP package offers a Q&A session with the band, and a tasting of some of the more recent Claypool Cellars releases; given my penchant for awesome prog-y type tunes, and my pinch-me wine-thing day job, and my music-thing side-gig, you can probably guess that I was pretty pumped to spend an early-summer-ish evening watching my various worlds collide…

“There’s Liquid On The Brain” (Checking In With Primus And Claypool Cellars, 2018)

Goofing around with Claypool Cellars’ Chaney Claypool (far right)

“There’s Liquid On The Brain” (Checking In With Primus And Claypool Cellars, 2018)“There’s Liquid On The Brain” (Checking In With Primus And Claypool Cellars, 2018)2016 Claypool Cellars ‘CC Pachyderm’ Pinot Noir Rose (Sonoma Coast, $28)

Only 200 cases of this delightfully zesty little beauty were produced, with fruit sourced from the Russian River Valley’s Moore Vineyard, which in my experience has produced varietal Pinots on the cranberry/pomegranate/lithe side. That profile is all played to excellent effect here, with a red-berry-and-stone-fruit-infused flavor emphasis that retains a buoyant mouthfeel and should have rock music fans and rose lovers wantonly flocking to chilled bottles of this well-balanced stuff. That it’s holding up so well after getting a year+ in under its belt is, I suspect, a testament to the Claypools’ now relatively long-standing penchant for finding excellent vineyard source material in their hometown Sonoma vicinity.

“There’s Liquid On The Brain” (Checking In With Primus And Claypool Cellars, 2018)

The tall one makes wine. Also, Team Iron Man forever!!!

“There’s Liquid On The Brain” (Checking In With Primus And Claypool Cellars, 2018)2013 Claypool Cellars ‘CC Pachyderm’ Thorn Ridge Pinot Noir (Sonoma County, $68)

“There’s Liquid On The Brain” (Checking In With Primus And Claypool Cellars, 2018)It’s rare that I get to taste the same wine on three separate occasions, as I have with the Claypool Thorn Ridge vineyard Pinot. You’d think that I’d be sick of it by now, and you’d be very, very wrong. Planted in the 1990s, Thorn Ridge sits on relatively steep hills outside of Sebastopol, and sees little water. What you end up with (and what’s also the case here) are Pinot wines that kind of dance between acidic structure and floral notes on the one hand, and a bit of tannic grip and depth of red fruit on the other. When I tasted this vintage last year, here’s what I wrote: “Despite its lithe profile, there’s good structure here, and I’d recommend waiting for a couple of years (or at least through the listening of an entire Primus album) before yanking the cork out of it.” That’s even more the case now, as the density of fruit and oak aging notes are still roiling around together like young, inexperienced lovers gettin’ busy, and haven’t yet really come together to make refined, tender, sweet-sweet luuuuuv. But make tender, sweet-sweet luuuuuv they eventually will.

Cheers!

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Copyright © 2016. Originally at “There’s Liquid On The Brain” (Checking In With Primus And Claypool Cellars, 2018) from 1WineDude.com - for personal, non-commercial use only. Cheers!

The Renaturating Three (Backstage With Claypool Cellars 2017)

Chaney Claypool shows off the CC wares backstage in Philly (2017)

Being a prog music geek (actually, make that a music geek in general), we’ve had our fair share of literal rock star wine producer interviews here on 1WD, probably none as effortlessly entertaining as those with Primus’ Les Claypool.

Claypool, along with his wife Chaney, are the proprietors of Sonoma-based Claypool Cellars, whose development I’ve been following (and on which I’ve been reporting) for several years.

The Renaturating Three (Backstage With Claypool Cellars 2017)

Me, my drummer, & Les Claypool (if you have to guess who is who, then come back when you’re sober)

With the release of the new Primus album The Desaturating Seven  (highly recommended, by the way; think of it as a mix between the group’s older quirky-jam-based writing style, and the showmanship flamboyance of the more recent Primus and the Chocolate Factory) and its subsequent tour, Chaney and Les recently found themselves in Philly. By their invitation, my drummer and I found ourselves at their Philly stop pre-show, tagging along at one of the cooler aspects of Primus’ tour: fans can purchase a premium-VIP package that includes a Q&A session with the band, and (more pertinently in this case) a tasting of some of the recent Claypool Cellars offerings, with Les and Chaney (mostly the gregarious Les) taking questions and waxing philosophic about Sonoma County wines in general.

Since bringing on the Pinot Noir wunderkinder consulting winemaking duo of Ross Cobb and Katy Wilson, Claypool Cellars has gone from promising-and-devoted-side-project to ageworthy-kind-of-cult-wine levels of quality, so for me it’s always a pleasure to catch up with the Claypools and their wines (funky-ass basslines or not). Here are some thoughts on their continued vinous progress (see what I did there…?)…

The Renaturating Three (Backstage With Claypool Cellars 2017)

NV Claypool Cellars Pachyderm Cuvee Select Brut Cormoyeaux (Champagne, $70)

I did not expect this; I’m pretty sure that no one outside of the Claypool inner circle expected a Marne Valley, Farmer Fizz release. According to Chaney, the Claypools went all-in on this, traveling to France to get involved in the nitty-gritty decision-making on importing about 200 cases of this Champers, the product of fourth-generation growers Jacky Bochet and Valerie Lemoine. Also unexpected is the slight predominance of Pinot Meunier (55%) in the mix with Chardonnay (15%) and Pinot Noir (30%); the result is a Champers with slightly darker berry fruit and pear on the nose, with ample floral notes and a ton of vivacity.

The Renaturating Three (Backstage With Claypool Cellars 2017)

2012 Claypool Cellars ‘CC Pachyderm’ Rice-Spivak Vineyard Pinot Noir (Sonoma Coast, $67)

Here we are… again… This is technically the second time that we’ve discussed this wine in feature-form on 1WD, the first time being back in 2014. Back then, I wrote that this wine was “about as complex as a good prog-rock anthem: aromas of herbs, tea, pepper, spices, and dark berry fruits, with a good deal of enticing juiciness on the palate, all uplifted by excellent acid and an overall sense of poise.” Not a whole lot has changed since then, with the exception of the wine getting a bit more concentrated and complex, particularly on the palate, which has developed splendidly. There is something special about the fruit from the small, slightly-inland, ash-laden soil of Rice-Spivak, and by special I mean that it makes a complex, spicy meatball of a Pinot.

 

The Renaturating Three (Backstage With Claypool Cellars 2017)

2013 Claypool Cellars ‘CC Pachyderm’ Thorn Ridge Pinot Noir (Sonoma County, $68)

Only 200 cases of this elegant, stylish, and light-ish-on-the-abv (under 15%) Pinot were made. Steep, silty, and dry-farmed, Thorn Ridge has attracted the likes of Sonoma’s heavier-Pinot-hitters, such as Kosta Browne. The key word here is “bright” – that goes for the lifted red cherry and berry and floral aromas, the deeper red fruit flavors on the palate, and the energetic acidity that bolsters the whole package. Despite its lithe profile, there’s good structure here, and I’d recommend waiting for a couple of years (or at least through the listening of an entire Primus album) before yanking the cork out of it.

Cheers!

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Copyright © 2016. Originally at The Renaturating Three (Backstage With Claypool Cellars 2017) from 1WineDude.com - for personal, non-commercial use only. Cheers!