~Meniscus Archives~

Summer 2004
Issue #4

May - August 2004

Visual Art and Spiritual Evolution
Andy Gmür
Biological evolution has advanced to the point that a 'spiritual evolution' is taking place. This natural process is happening, no matter if we are aware of it or not.

The Dehydration Epidemic
Jaime Larese
Our first step to improving a myriad of health problems is understanding dehydration and how much water we need to be drinking daily to maintain our fragile health.

What's Endangering Our Earth?
Jeff Hernandez
The everyday items that are meant to facilitate our lives, in fact may be harming us more than we bargained for. Organic chemicals are extremely cheap to produce and are very effective in their job functions.

Looking Forward to Clean Energy
Jon Heinrich
Fortunately, solutions exist and if we are able to raise awareness and convince our policy makers to consider it a priority, we can all look forward to a bright, energy-rich future instead of one marked by environmental, political, and social disaster.
Aaron Ades
You don't need to save for a rainy day if you create a system that is in harmony with the needs of the human animal. Create what you need and eliminate the reliance on things you cannot create.
Ten Things You Can Do to Help Your Earth
Chrystie Hopkins
Whether you live in New York City or Big Fork, Montana, everyday decisions that you make can impact the environment. The revolution starts at home. Here are ten things that you can do to help save YOUR world.
Derek Gumuchian
We are all one. In this article we explore the idea of the Earth as an entire entitiy and as our mother.
The Fabulous Sylvan Sisters
Dan Berthiaume
An hour later, Donna was lazily reclining in the passenger seat of Melinda's cherry red Volkswagen New Beetle, consuming a brunch consisting of a can of Diet Pepsi and a low-tar cigarette...
è bella Designs in Peru
Michael Weintrob
Photographer Michael Weintrob travels to Peru with è bella Designs, to capture how è bella has helped to revive the art of weaving and the Peruvuian economy.
Rough Around the Edges
Jonathan Alsop

Technically, first thing in the morning is the very best time to taste wine since your palate is fresh and unviolated. But I don't do it: the sight of daddy in his bathrobe on a Sunday morning slogging down a half-dozen bottles of wine could stay with a child.

Show Review:
Pete Pidgeon & Arcoda—Six Years of friends, funk and crack horns.
Jon Heinrich
Pete Pidgeon & Arcoda celebrate six years as a band by playing at Boston's Harpers Ferry. Opening up for Arcoda was Color and Talea and Caveman. 4/4/04.

CD Reviews:

Empty Food
Kerry Rumore
Fish Pond &
The Little Prince Discovers a Rose
Katie Molnar

Selections by Brian Gagné:

  • [It Fails to Pass]
  • Fever/Lever
  • Grief
  • Smallness annihilated in the scope of puzzlement
  • Untitled A

Spring Issue Launch
Club Europa,
Feb. 19, 2004

State of the Art,
Oct. 23, 2003

Portland, Maine
Aug. 30, 2003

Premier Launch,
Zeitgeist Gallery,
Aug. 14, 2003



Rough Around the Edges

by Jonathon Alsop
Photographs by
Jonathon Alsop

© June 20, 2003

Published May 15, 2004



Spicy, aromatic red from the hills around an ancient mining town in southern France.

Rugged, rustic, country wines are un-refined but delicious

Back when I was a boy, we left the churning metropolis of Centerville, Ohio every summer and retreated to our ancestral home in the mountains of Kentucky—Mamaw's house, that is. From the moment my sister and I stumbled from the car all woozy from the Dramamine and winding roads, everything in our world was completely different.

The air was suddenly full of smells like coal smoke, horse barn, rabbit pen, bacon, and tobacco.

Water, normally a constant, tasted different from this hill to that, and it flowed out of the ground from springs and along the top of the ground in creeks, not just from the mouth of a tap.

Trees were numerous, close and familiar, and the sunlight came through them to you, filtered and indirect. When a big one was struck by lightning, we talked about that tree for a week like it was a person.

New beds, new food, roosters at dawn. We'd been here a hundred times already, and it was strange but familiar. Unbeknownst to me at the time, I was sleeping on the very couch where my parents had been caught necking in high school.

It was there I first marveled at the distinction and multiplicity of flavor profiles, how something as universal as potatoes or chicken could taste one way back home and so entirely different in the country.

City chicken was always "a la king" or "a la Colonel," and I still don't really know what "chicken fried steak" is.

Country chicken was rolled in flour, herbs, and spices and deep-fried super-hot till crisp in real lard. Sometimes a whole chicken would be dressed up and roasted in a richly seasoned cast-iron pan that had only ever been washed with rock salt and water.

After a few weeks, the mountains became almost as familiar to me as my soybean-suburban life on Ohio's glacial low plain. On returning to "the city," things appeared unnecessarily contrived and refined, brighter and more wonderful than needs be, and a little embarrassing. Food, on the other hand, tasted less like itself and more like the processing it had been through. The air smelled like . . . air, just air. It was a great place to live, but you wouldn't want to visit there.

Air, water, light—that's about 99 percent of what we call life, and maybe more than 99 percent of wine. Most of the wines we Americans value are established classics from Europe or super-concentrated old-vines from California and Australia. Refinement has a high price tag, but it's not an automatic indicator of how much you're going to like a wine.

All wines are country wines the same way all coffee is mountain-grown, except for the rare vineyard within some city limits. Slowly but surely, I've come to love wines that are rugged, rustic, and rough.

They may lack finesse and sophistication, but more sophisticated wines are sometimes too tame. Especially in summer, I look for wines that taste exotic and smell wild and woodsy.

Country Comfort
Mas de Gourgonnier (about $12, distributed nationally by Michael Skurnik Wines, 516-677-9300 and North Berkeley Imports, 800-622-9088) This old favorite comes in a funky port-like bottle, and its eccentricity doesn't stop there. Its flavors are explosive and literally wild: rosemary, tarragon and lavender lead to raspberry, hay and leather. Bauxite—unrefined aluminum ore—is named for its hometown, Les Baux.

2001 Castana "Solanera" Monastrell (about $10, imported by European Cellars, 704-358-1565) Its name may mean "black sun," but the flavors are all red fruit, blackberry and raspberry. Monastrell the grape is unknown outside Mediterranean Spain, but with such soft tannins, round approachable flavors, and a favorable Euro, it could catch on.

Mediterranean Spain is one of Europe's oldest wine growing regions.


2001 Renwood Viognier (about $11, distributed nationally and at Trader Joe's around the world) This grape came from southern France where it's grown in a very remote area called Condrieu, but now new world wine makers are running with it and outstripping the original in price and quality. Best thing about this Renwood is the texture: rich, round, viscous, almost oily. The taste is pretty spectacular too, like pears marinated in wildflowers and honey. Not bad for about $2 a glass.

Rich, almost viscous, a white wine with the body of a red.

A Correction (Sort Of)
Maybe I was wrong about the American boycott of French wines after all. Not wrong about its being stupid and misguided and pointlessly hurtful to your local wine shop, but wrong about whether it's happening or not.

According to the Wine Spectator, French wine sales in the U.S. through May are down more than 26 percent from the same time last year. In comparison, U.S. wines aren't exactly rushing in to fill the void. They're up about 2 percent in volume but down about 2 percent in value.

Here in Euro-loving Boston, we get loads of excellent French wine that never make it inland. California winemakers I meet in Boston always marvel at how much cheap and interesting European juice we get. It sounds like they have to scramble for anything other than mainstream French and Italians.

We easterners must buy and drink everything before it can get past the Hudson River. At least that's my excuse for not seeing something as big as a one-quarter drop in sales.

I still don't see any resistance to the increasingly delicious and affordable French wines that are arriving these days, especially the 2000 vintages from Bordeaux and the Cotes-du-Rhone.

Jonathon Alsop




Meniscus Magazine © 2004. All material is property of respective artists.