Inconnu Lalalu Sauvignon Blanc and Lizzo's Cuz I Love You
Lauren Brennan Bissell and Melissa Viviane Jefferson express themselves through wine and music in unorthodox ways, throwing out the rule book on how things have and “should” be done.
Lauren’s vagabond background took her from a punk kid growing up in the D.C. area to an aspiring tattoo artist in California at age 22 which led to her touring with bands around the country and eventually moving to Barcelona where she played music, performed poetry and fell in love with pure, unadulterated wine and food. In 2011 she returned to California and started on her path to winemaking. After a couple internships including one at Matthiasson, she set out on her own making wine under her own label, Inconnu Wine.
She makes low intervention wines, meaning they are spontaneously fermented with native yeasts, unfiltered, with minimal sulfur using sustainably farmed grapes. Her natural wines are made from classic grape varietals, but look and taste nothing like what general wine consumers have come to expect from these traditional wines.
The 2017 Inconnu Lalalu Sauvignon Blanc is sourced from Contra Costa County in California, directly east of the San Francisco Bay. It’s cloudy with chunks of sediment floating around. The nose is exotic and seductive with aromatic orange blossom, pineapple and lemon with scents of hay, something slightly medicinal and a little bit of a gym sock funk–in a good way. It’s both viscous and bright with zippy acidity. It’s serving adult Capri Sun vibes with a salty finish. This is nothing that resembles a California, Loire Valley or New Zealand sauvignon blanc. It’s in its own category. This bottle is for the adventurous wine drinker who’s ready to experience this ubiquitous varietal like never before. This is, as they say, not your mama’s sauvignon blanc.
Like Lauren, Melissa Jefferson, better known as Lizzo, wasn’t brought up with a family in the biz. She started singing and rapping as a kid growing up in Houston. She’s also a classically trained musician and studied flute performance in high school and at University of Houston. Like most women, she struggled to conform to restrictive body standards set by society until coming to the realization that she didn’t need to make anyone happy but herself. So she embraced herself and her body as it is, and has made empowering, joyful hip hop on that platform ever since.
Her long awaited, much anticipated (at least for me) album “Cuz I Love You” in a word, slaps. It’s a breath of fresh air. It’s fun, it’s real, it’s jazzy, it’s highly danceable, it’s motivational and it tells a story. The opening title track starts out grand with Lizzo desperately wailing “I’m crying cuz I looooove you” with booming brass music behind her. This is the beginning of her album arch, starting off with her lamenting the pain of desire for another and being in love.
The second track is an immediate rebound from the album opener. “Like A Girl” is a resistance song that turns the traditionally insulting phrase on its head, showing the power of running and doing things like a girl. In the spirit of this song, Lauren showed the male-dominated wine industry just what a girl with no formal training or family connections could do - which is make badass wine that rivals that of established male winemakers.
“Juice” is one of many bangers on “Cuz I Love You” and it bops hard. It was made to be paired with the Lalalu Sauvignon Blanc. On this hit, Lizzo declares “The juice ain’t worth the squeeze if the juice don’t look like this” referring to her curvy, voluptuous body type that no one’s going to see at the Victoria Secret Fashion Show or in the pages of fashion magazines. The same can be said for this wine’s unusual, cloudy, possibly considered flawed appearance and aroma. These perceived imperfections to some are presented by both women proudly and on purpose.
“Cuz I Love You” is a diverse record showing Lizzo’s range of musical styles that’s also cohesive with the driving message at the root of it all being self respect and love. “Soulmate” is a pop anthem, “Jerome” is a spin on a soulful ballad, “Crybaby” has a bluesy 70s sound and then “Tempo” makes a surprise attack featuring the queen Missy Elliot that for this record seems somewhat misplaced, but an inviting club jam nonetheless.
Many women, especially right now, can most certainly relate to “Exactly How I Feel”. Men: take note. As Lizzo says on this track, “cry cause I want to/ smile if I want to...All my feelings Gucci”. She can do what she wants and feel how she feels because she owns her own body and emotions – a notion that some lawmakers have completely twisted.
Lizzo gets sensual on the closing track “Lingerie” where she puts herself out there musically and as a secure sexual being. The Lalalu Sauvignon Blanc is sexy in the same way. It’s wild, raw, unconventional and confident – qualities that are provocatively attractive. For any indulgence or rebelliousness this wine and record pairing may cause, as Lizzo points out, you “gotta blame it on my juice”.