Robert De Niro turns 77 this week, so a celebration is in order. And, yes, I am talking to you. De Niro has a mantle full of awards for his acting and he helped create a vodka company, so we like him even more. Italy likes him so much that they made him an honorary citizen, over the objections of the Sons of Italy. That group says anyone who made his bones playing Italian-descended mobsters should get the boot from Italy. Suggested punishment: Drink only Chianti from a bottle covered in straw.
In 1974, DeNiro starred in The Godfather Part II, both a sequel and a prequel to its namesake film. Think of it as a shot of grapes on the vine and a shot of an empty wine bottle. The before and the after. DeNiro collected an Oscar for his portrayal of Vito Corleone in the prequel part of the movie, the grapes on the vine.
The film was directed by Francis Ford Coppola, who also knows his way around a vineyard. Try some of his Inglenook Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon while watching this movie. He bought the property, by the way, with the profits from the original Godfather movie. He no doubt made them an offer they couldn't refuse.
1990's GoodFellas showed how "made men" get unmade. Director Martin Scorcese put the film together with breakneck pacing. The movie makes it feel as if it is you being pursued by the feds, not wise guy Henry Hill. By the way, they call gangsters "wise guys," despite so many of them sleeping on a bunk in prison. It makes one wonder about their wisdom.
Scorcese once did a commercial for Spanish Cava producer Freixenet that looked more like a Hitchcock film than one of his own. I was told by a woman once that she cheated on a boyfriend and he correctly identified the aromas in her apartment - "Freixenet and baby oil." Now, that's a great nose.
Goodfellow Family Cellars uses sustainably-grown grapes from Oregon's Willamette Valley to make several single-vineyard Pinot Noirs that sell for about $40.
In 1970, De Niro had yet to wonder if we were talking to him or not. He was just a youngster in Roger Corman's Bloody Mama in that year, playing one of Ma Barker's criminal sons. It might be hard to notice him, what with a flamboyant Shelly Winters cavorting across the screen. The film was shot entirely in Arkansas, and I would imagine that De Niro hasn't been back there since.
Let's pair this movie with De Niro's VDKA 6100 vodka. It's made from New Zealand whey. Yes, whey. He likes it in a martini with a lemon twist.