Comando G La Bruja de Rozas and Queen’s A Night at the Opera
Scaramouche, Galileo and Beelzebub are the three major players Freddie Mercury enlists for a dramatic fantasy in the monster rock opera “Bohemian Rhapsody”, all while declaring “Bismillah!” (Arabic for “in the name of God”). These are the ravings of a musical mad scientist who concocted this thing out of his extravagant imagination and gave us something we didn’t even know we were missing in our lives.
With everything they did, but especially on “A Night at the Opera”, Queen blew our minds and changed everything we knew about historic and contemporary musical styles. They took a huge risk which paid off in some of the best, most creative rock music ever written.
Comando G founders and winemakers Daniel Landi and Fernando Garcia set out to change the Spanish wine game, which they did by setting up shop in a difficult, largely overlooked wine region in Sierra de Gredos. They saw opportunity in these treacherous, abandoned vineyard plots 4,000 feet above sea level in the mountains near Madrid. Not only did they cultivate this underestimated land previously used for churning out bulk wine to cooperatives, but they redefined an entire category of Spanish wine.
Until winemakers like Comando G and others in Sierra de Gredos and Priorat took a different approach, most Spanish garnacha was extracted and encumbered by too much oak and high alcohol. The Comando G La Bruja de Rozas garnacha is truly like no other Spanish wine I’ve ever had. It reminds me more of a Burgundy than anything else. It’s light ruby in color and aromatic with charming raspberry and cherry notes, honeysuckle and violet with a savory umami thing happening. The palate is elegant and refined but with powerful tannins and acidity. It’s French-influenced for sure and reflects its rocky, high-elevation terroir and biodynamically farmed, hand-picked fruit.
“A Night At the Opera” is a Hunter S. Thompson-style wild ride of a record. It’s a bit of a mind bender like this bottle of La Bruja de Rozas. It spans a range of musical eras and styles, from Dixieland ragtime jazz, English folk rock a la 1960s Beatles, raunchy 70s rock perfect for Spinal Tap material and of course, its definitive rock opera. Just like the La Bruja de Rozas, this record is not what you’d expect. There’s surprise and delight around every corner.
“A Night at the Opera” opens with big attitude on “Death on Two Legs”. Bouncy piano, shredding electric guitar, Freddie Mercury’s scorching vocals, signature Queen overdubbing and aggressive, vengeful lyrics combine for a rude awakening. Immediately following, they switch gears with the jaunty English ditty “Lazing on a Sunday Afternoon” which leads into the gratuitous sexual innuendo of “I’m in Love With My Car”.
At the root of “A Night at the Opera” and La Bruja de Rozas is revival. La Bruja was born from vineyards that Comando G brought back to life. Much of “A Night at the Opera” borrows from older genres, creating a version that’s uniquely Queen, whether it’s WWII era jazz on “Seaside Rendezvous”, Jesus Christ Superstar-style musical theater on “Prophet’s Song” or opera on “Bohemian Rhapsody”. The latter was an experiment turned instant classic that granted Queen their rightful place in the pantheon of popular music and became a staple in karaoke bars and road trip sing-alongs for generations to come.
Like the brilliant Freddie Mercury, La Bruja de Rozas garnacha is all at once sexy, gentle and biting with its tannin, wild aromatics and minerality. It’s delicious and refreshing to experience something new in the old, which you get in every sip and every song of this wine and record.