Wednesday, June 29, 2011


Blood Of The Vines: Play Misty For Me

Wine Goes To The Movies
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In a former life, I was a radio disk jockey.  Clint Eastwood's "Play Misty For Me" held a special fascination.  I figured if I was good enough at it, I would someday have a cool house near the ocean, drive a sports car on PCH and do my show on tape so I could come and go as I pleased. The downside: women with knives.

I was a DJ for quite a long time.  It seemed like a long time, anyway.  I never got the ocean-view property or the sports car on PCH and I spent many long hours chained to a microphone.  On the other hand, I never got stabbed.

As far as wine goes for Clint Eastwood, he likes it.  There's a rule which clearly states if you like jazz, you must like wine, and he certainly likes jazz.  It's a package deal.  He plays a jazz DJ in “Play Misty For Me," so even his character must like wine, too.

There are plenty of references to the notion that Clint is like a fine wine - getting better with age.  He doesn't want people to celebrate his birthday anymore, so he asks his wife not to get him anything special, just have a glass of wine with him.

In his movie "Hereafter" Eastwood chose Rivetto's Barbaresca to be displayed in one scene, but finding a specific wine on which to hang Eastwood's hat isn't easy.

Clint Eastwood does have a beer connection: Pale Rider Ale bore his name back in the '90s, a tip of the black Stetson to his movie of that name.  Eastwood actually wanted the ale to be called "The Beer With No Name," as an homage to the character he played in his spaghetti western trilogy.  Someone probably figured a beer with a name would be easier to sell than one without, but I recall that Prince did alright without a name for a while.

The man who wrote the book, "Play Misty For Me," was Paul Gillette, something of a wine expert himself while he was alive.  He published some wine industry trade newsletters, but that thread appears to go no further.

The film is set in Carmel, so perhaps a wine from Monterey County would be appropriate.  There’s a proprietary brand house wine at Clint’s Carmel restaurant, Mission Ranch.  There’s also one at the restaurant he used to own, the Hog’s Breath Inn.  Carmel Valley winery Chateau Julien is just down the road and was host to the First Lady’s Reception in 2008, an event Mr. and Mrs. Eastwood attended, so let’s go there.

Chateau Julien’s flagship wine - Merlot - was their very first release in 1982.  Here’s how they describe it:  “Hints of cedar and vanilla nuances accent aromas of lush berry and robust dark cherry.  Its subtle oak edge and moderate tannins complement this full-bodied wine’s fine acidity and ripe, intense fruit.  A nice complexity and texture through a smooth, lingering finish. Will age nicely for up to ten years.”

“Play Misty For Me” has been aging for over 40 years, and Clint for much longer.  If you ask me, they both keep getting better.

P.S.: The answer to the anagram in last week's Blood Of The Vines "Rosemary's Baby" article: Velvet Devil Merlot

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