Elton John’s lyricist shows a flair for the visual arts, too.
Bernie Taupin is on the playlist at Cliff Lede Vineyards in Yountville through September 2019. Guests who book a tasting in the Backstage Tasting Lounge can view original works and limited editions by Elton John’s longtime lyricist while savoring a Chardonnay and a Pinot Noir from the FEL label, followed by several Cliff Lede Napa Valley Bordeaux reds.
“Fans share often that my lyrics and Elton’s melodies have shaped and changed their lives in dramatic, everlasting ways,” Taupin writes in his artist’s statement. “How can I possibly express my gratitude to the millions of fans who have impacted my life?” He describes the show’s artworks, which reflect on his half-century collaboration with Elton John, as his “best effort” to do so.
Rock Block Series
Backstage tastings include a current or recent Rock Block Series wine, a Cabernet-heavy blend mostly of grapes from two of its vintage’s top-performing vineyard sections. All the blocks are named for famous rock songs. The Rock Block selection in mid-July was the 2015 Moon Fantasy (Dark Side of the Moon block plus Dear Mr. Fantasy). I’d tasted Moon Fantasy (note the amplike label in the photo below) shortly after its release in Spring 2018. Though more settled a year later, the wine’s tannins were still rockin’ and rollin’ and all in felicitous ways. Courtesy of the lounge’s gracious Kelly, I also sampled Moon Fantasy’s successor, the 2016 Soul Fire (Heart Full of Soul, Light My Fire). Released this spring and vibrant with blue and black fruit, Soul Fire is drinkable now but will impress all the more in a few years.
Looking back on my notes I had positive things to say about all the wines tasted, with the 2016 FEL Donnelly Creek Anderson Valley Pinot Noir (“bright cherry”; “beautiful fruit on back palate”; “light touch of oak”; “complicated without being fussy”) and 2016 Cliff Lede Beckstoffer To Kalon Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon (“Oakville appellation at its best”) my clear favorites.
Cliff Lede Vineyards, which appears in Fodor’s Napa and Sonoma and The California Directory of Fine Wineries, is on Yountville Cross Road near the Silverado Trail.