Red Mountain is full of interesting sights. Like movie-star-handsome Christophe Hedges, stripped to the waist, heaving huge stones into their proper place at the French country farmhouse he’s building near his family’s winery, Hedges Family Estate. The stone house already looks ancient, like it grew organically from the rocky soil. Or I should say grew biodynamically, because that’s how Hedges tends his vines, in concert with the cosmos. I’ve come to this tiny but famous American Viticultural Area in eastern Washington not (just) for the scenery, but to sip Hedges’ dry and fragrant rosé in the bone-warming sun and talk about why this excellent wine has no score. “When someone says a wine is 100 points, what does that mean?” Hedges thunders. I respond meekly. “That it’s…perfect?”“So who determined that? Was it God?” Hedges asks. “The wine critic, is he a god?”A few days later and 70 miles east, wine critic Paul Gregutt opens the door of his lovely rose-draped cottage in Waitsburg looking very human. He’s got a bad cold, which will create a backlog in his work. He gestures around the kitchen at wine that has been submitted for scoring by winemakers around the Northwest. “Five days out of seven—sometimes seven days out of seven—I’m tasting wine in the afternoon,” Gregutt says. He scores wine for Wine Enthusiast, one of the national publications that help determine the fortunes of a bottle of wine.“Consumers are looking for a life ring in a sea of wine,” Gregutt says. “They will see that a wine got 91 points in Wine Enthusiast and they will buy it. Scores have an impact. A good one. It’s fine with me.”Gregutt has been raising awareness of Northwest wines since 1998, when he took on the Washington and Oregon beat with Wine Enthusiast. Until May of this year, he also wrote about wine for The Seattle Times and he is a chief wine designer for Waitsburg Cellars (whose wines have been scored in The Wine Advocate). He is quick to point out he’s not nearly as powerful as Robert Parker, the man who made 100 points the gold standard for wine lovers. When Parker launched The Wine Advocate newsletter in 1978, it was not the first American publication to rate wine with a number. But it was the first to widely use the now familiar 50–100 point scale. Consumers loved those black and white numbers, and soon the 100-point-scale, Parker-style scores were adopted by many other wine critics and publications.According to Parker, a 96–100 is an extraordinary wine, 90–95 is excellent, 80–89 is above average to very good, 70–79 is average with little distinction except that it is soundly made, below 70 is flawed, and 50 is plonk.
COFFEE* DATE: Rick Araluce, lead scenic artist for Seattle Opera (see his set work in The Ring this month) and maker of tiny, haunting dioramas. His solo show, The Minutes, the Hours, the Days, opens at Bellevue Arts Museum on August 16 (bellevuearts.org).SCENE: Café Paloma in Pioneer Square, a sunny evening in JuneRICK’S ORDER: Beer. *No actual coffee consumed
The first thing you notice about Seattle cabaret band The Love Markets are the slips—black, lacy and worn by singer/keyboardist Angie Louise as well as the four esteemed male musicians behind her. “It was the perfect way to express our Weimar-inspired vibe and appear decadent, severe and totally absurd all at the same time,” Louise explains. “Wearing slips was never about drag or dressing as women,” accordionist Rob Witmer adds.
While talking with West Seattle writer Nicole Hardy about her new memoir, Confessions of a Latter-Day Virgin, I mention British installation artist Tracey Emin and her famously controversial piece consisting of a camping tent, on which she embroidered the names of 102 people she had “slept with” (32 in the sexual sense). Hardy, 41, whose Mormon faith and singlehood kept her a virgin well into age 36, quips, “My tent would be a Barbie tent.”
Must Get CrabbyBallard SeafoodFest(7/13 to 7/14, times vary) — Celebrate crustaceans, mollusks and more at the 39th Annual Ballard SeafoodFest, a kid-friendly throwdown that features boatloads of tasty fishes, two stages of live music—including awesome bands Kithkin, Star Anna and Bobby Bare Jr.—a Ballard-based brew bonanza and, yes, a lutefisk eating contest.
We received a fax (really) the other day alerting us to this slightly weird, but pretty hilarious video of Macklemore touting the Lady Washington tall ship, which was where he filmed parts of his Can't Hold Us music video. My fave part? Around 0:45 when he says "I was a baby pirate. A little urban baby pirate doin' my thing up on there." Also, it smells like "salt and dolphins."
Nothing says summer like a spontaneous jaunt to a park, whether for a quick picnic, an inspiring view or a strenuous hike. But if you find yourself always landing at the same old locations, you might need to call in the Pocket Ranger. Launched in March to coincide with Washington State Parks’ centennial celebration (and created in collaboration with the national ParksByNature Network), this free smartphone app introduces users to the diverse wonders of Washington’s state parks.
“The irony is the whole point,” says University of Washington astronomy professor Woody Sullivan. He’s talking about his quest to make Seattle the sundial capital of North America. The 69-year-old Phinney Ridge resident is creator of the Seattle Sundial Trail, a self-directed tour of 12 of the city’s best dials, including the elaborate, interactive one at Gas Works Park and the large vertical one mounted high on the southwest wall of the UW’s Physics and Astronomy Building.
Bertha the underground tunnel-boring machine began her slow march under Seattle this summer. She’s been a long time coming. The Nisqually earthquake hit in 2001 and did enough damage to the Alaskan Way Viaduct that it needed to be replaced, but it’s taken more than a decade to just get this far. The urgency of this work was reemphasized by the failure of the I-5 bridge over the Skagit River at the start of the summer travel season. If a truck can bring a “safe” bridge down, what havoc could be wreaked in the next big quake?
Ballard Kayaks, the company that offers kayak rentals and tours, has hoisted its big blue tent on the south end of the beach at Golden Gardens just in time to help you quench your recreation and Vitamin D needs. Outdoorsy types: Stop by BK’s beach outpost to rent a kayak ($25 per hour) and head out for an independent exploration of the Puget Sound waters. Less experienced kayakers can sign up for guided tours (starting at $35 per hour) that troll throughout various destinations around the Sound. On our to-do list?
Given her role as Seattle Art Museum’s Deputy Director for Art and curator of European painting and sculpture, Chiyo Ishikawa has trouble considering herself an art collector. In the course of seeking acquisitions for the museum, she regularly visits the homes of veteran art collectors. “Their collections are really curated—a conscious exercise,” she says. “Mine doesn’t reflect my professional perspective. It’s organic and sentimental.” But of course that’s exactly why wandering the art-filled rooms of her Fremont bungalow is such a rich experience.
Must RockThe Dandy WarholsFriday (6/21, 9 p.m.) — Portland’s 1990s alt-rock sensation The Dandy Warhols return to celebrate the recently remastered re-release of best-beloved album Thirteen Tales of Urban Bohemia (which this year, rather alarmingly, is 13 years old).