It’s a bird! It’s a plane! No, it’s an album. It’s a band! It’s a dream! Wait. It’s a new red wine brand, with a catchy label! Not another new wine brand – with a catchy new label.
Truth be told, One Time Spaceman is the name of an album; it’s also the name of a band; and now it’s a savory red wine from serious Paso Robles winegrowing and winemaking pedigree, with a savvy label straight out of the early 1900s from Austrian Koloman Moser’s influential pre-graphic-art portfolio. The cartoonish black-and-white label art portrays a squadron of astronauts illuminated by a giant glowing moon, as they fill barrels full of wine, before floating them up to thirstily awaiting space-helmet-clad ducks, who will then insert feeding tubes into the barrels. Because moon ducks need to get wasted too!
The label revelry is straight out of a dream by winemaker Mark Adams, a seasoned alternative rock/experimental/somewhat-psychedelic musician and now a rising star in the California wine industry. Adams’ path led him from Chico State University, Calif., to Los Angeles and a cinema studies degree, followed by a career in music and soundtrack editing, including a stint with indie-film pioneers Troma. After a collaboration with experimental musician David Vaught and heading an alt/country outfit called Rancho Deluxe, Adams cut sound effects for Sony, including work for television shows “Arrested Development” and “Deadwood.”
Not resting on his laurels, Adams moved up the coast to his hometown of Paso Robles with new wife Ciera Lamborn – a soprano at the Los Angeles Opera under General Director Placido Domingo – to follow friends on the same path and to further expand his biography by starting Ledge Vineyards. Adams then went on to work with the “next big thing,” Justin Smith and Saxum Winery. The Smith family’s estate vineyard happens to be the hallowed James Berry Vineyard, which provides prized syrah grapes to Carlisle, Copain and Villa Creek, as well lofty releases by Saxum, which Wine Spectator magazine named its “Winery Of The Year” for 2010.
Adams, still fully involved in music, released the aforementioned solo album “One Time Spaceman” in 2010 to rave reviews in indie press circles, and, following a spate of national airplay, toured Europe solo and then proceeded to put together a band by the same name.
With both his music and wine careers “shooting to the moon,” the winemaker took on a partnership with Napa’s 3 Fingers Wine Company, who thought One Time Spaceman would be a good name for a wine. Adams is not only living the dream, he is also dreaming the dream. And getting moon ducks drunk on red wine, one barrel at a time.
Current releases from One Time Spaceman include the Reserve Airspace Ohana Proprietary Red and the focus of this rant, the Moon Duck Rhone Blend. Moon Duck is a fantastic, mouth-watering blend of grenache, syrah and mourvedre – in a grand style for which Paso Robles is famous – with an added splash of tempranillo. You are encouraged to enjoy it after a galactic conquest or during a family picnic on the oceans of Mars. It has the color of a red giant star in its last phase and aromas of astroberry, cosmic flower and plasma spice. In the mouth there are subtle notes of interstellar dust, while arrogant fruit goes straight to a rich nebula core. Deep space atmospheric cooling allows the fairly alcoholic wine (15.5 percent) to leave the palate with nary a tracer of heat or imbalance.
On a more earthly plane, the espresso flavors, underbrushy notes, baking spices, cherries, blackberries, dried herbs and flowers (lavender and violet) will fill the mouth with heavenly bliss. With great depth and vibrant acidity, it will pair alongside rich cheeses, tri-tip, dry rubbed short ribs, a cheeseburger or, perhaps, pomegranate moon duck. What kind of cheese is the moon made of again?
In a wine atmosphere increasingly filled with space junk, avoid all the floating debris and tune your dial to the stylish One Time Spaceman.
Cheers! Remember, wine reveals truth.
Drew Stofflet lives in Carbondale. Correspond with him at email@example.com