Friday, October 29, 2021

Blood Of The Vines - Shock Theater Halloween

Pairing‌‌‌ ‌‌‌wine‌‌‌ ‌‌‌with‌‌‌ ‌‌‌movies!‌‌‌  ‌‌‌See‌‌‌ ‌‌‌the‌‌‌ ‌‌‌trailers‌‌‌ ‌‌‌and‌‌‌ ‌‌‌hear‌‌‌ ‌‌‌the‌‌‌ ‌‌‌fascinating‌‌‌ ‌‌‌commentary‌‌‌ ‌‌‌for‌‌‌ ‌‌‌these‌‌‌ ‌‌‌‌‌movies‌,‌‌ ‌‌‌and‌‌‌ ‌‌‌many‌‌‌ ‌‌‌more‌,‌‌ ‌‌‌at‌‌‌ ‌‌‌Trailers‌‌‌ ‌‌‌From‌‌‌ ‌‌‌Hell.‌‌‌  This week, it's Halloween, ya know.  For those of us who grew up on weekend viewings of Shock Theater, Fear Theater, Scare Theater - or whatever your local station called its collection of old, black-and-white horror flicks - films such as these three were staples.  Happy Halloween! 

Is there a better movie at Halloween than the granddaddy of horror flicks, Frankenstein?  This 1931 creature feature set the stage for decades of horror tropes.  The mad scientist, Henry Frankenstein, was cast from a mold that was used repeatedly.  The Monster, with the iconic flat-head makeup, defined the horror of being misunderstood.  The laboratory had a Tesla coil - one that was actually made by Tesla.  Frankenstein was the wellspring for movie horror, especially for Universal's version of it.  By the way, if trick-or-treaters come to your door with torches in hand, don't hide in an old mill.

For the wine pairing?  Frankenstein wine.  Wait, that's a term used to describe wine that has been altered from its natural state.  Rather than recommend a pairing with a wine full of oak chips, designer yeast or grapes with bolts sticking out of them, let's go with a German wine grown near the site of the Frankenstein castle, in the Franken wine region of Pfalz.  The Hans Wirsching Iphofer Kronsberg Silvaner Trocken is dry and bold, with a crisp minerality which will pair well with torch-toasted marshmallows.

In 1935's Werewolf of London, movie-goers were treated to the first appearance of a werewolf in a big-time Hollywood picture.  Jack Pierce did the makeup, but it was less wolfy than that worn later by Lon Chaney, Jr. as the Wolf Man.  That's because the actor who played the werewolf, Henry Hull, didn't want his face to be obscured.  Hull should have gotten over himself.  The heavy makeup job didn't seem to hurt Chaney's career much.  

Werewolf Wines are from Transylvania, and they sport the scariest "critter labels" I’ve ever seen.  They even glow in the dark.  The line features Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Pinot Noir, all of which pair well with werewolf.

The Mummy - we'll cover the 1932 original here - has been subjected to more sequels, spinoffs and remakes than Batman.  Boris Karloff played the mummified man who is brought back to life by the reading of an ancient scroll.  If you ever find an ancient scroll, especially one from an Egyptian tomb, do not under any circumstances read it aloud.  I now realize that my warning is much like telling someone "Don't push that button!"  The button invariably gets pressed.  Well, all I can say is that if you bring a mummy back to life, you'd better have a quick verse or two handy, which you can use to turn him to dust.

Searching for wine and movie pairings sometimes brings me to a curiosity which cannot be passed by.  The Mummy Cabernet Sauvignon is such a curiosity.  It is a Napa Valley wine, apparently bottled by a company that makes personal wine labels.  It is described as being "a tribute to oil exploration across the US."  I don’t get it either, but maybe some wildcatter once found an ancient scroll by his oil rig and made the mistake of reading the damned thing aloud.  Anyway, at $79 a bottle, this one should be labeled "snake oil."

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Wednesday, October 27, 2021

Bordeaux Legends - Big BDX

There is perhaps no name that is more connected with wine from Bordeaux as the name Rothschild.  The Domaines Barons de Rothschild have for years been benchmarks of French wine, a bar to which other winemakers are compared - and one to which they aspire.

DBR (Lafite) has a line of wines, Les Légendes, a line which they say displays that Bordeaux has been in their roots for generations.  The aim of Les Légendes is to let individual appellations in Bordeaux speak for themselves, hopefully bringing a better understanding of the diversity of the Bordeaux region to consumers.

A recent virtual tasting event, hosted by DBR winemaker Diane Flamand, explored five Bordeaux wines from various notable regions - Saint-Émilion, Médoc, and Pauillac.  The wines were made under Flamand's supervision, as they have been since 2004.  

The grapes for the Saint-Émilion, Pauillac and Médoc wines came from DBR (Lafite)'s own vineyards, while the Bordeaux red and white blends were sourced from partner growers in the Entre-Deux-Mers region.  Flamand said during the tasting event that she purchases the Entre-Deux-Mers bottlings as finished wines, from trusted partners.  

Flamand noted that the Les Légendes wines were made to be immediately drinkable and easy to understand.  She did not want anyone to think that these wines had to be cellared for a decade or two before enjoying them.

Les Légendes Saint-Émilion 2016

This wine is 85% Merlot and 15% Cabernet Franc.  A Merlot-heavy mix is customary in Saint-Emilion.  Aging took place over a full year, but only 40% of the juice saw oak.  The winery describes the 2016 vintage as remarkable, a growing season which started wet, turned dry, got wet again and ultimately sported a surprise warm spell at the end.  Alcohol hits 13.5% abv and the wine retails for $40.

This very dark wine gives off a nose of anise, plums and blackberries, with a savory edge of leather and tar, or forest floor.  The palate offers an exquisite example of Bordeaux - smooth and savory at the five-year mark.  The tannins are fine and sweet, but are more than able to help out with a pot roast, beef stew or pork dish.

Les Légendes Médoc 2018 

The folks at DBR (Lafite) identify Cabernet Sauvignon as the star of the Médoc, and they say this wine gives the star its proper stage.  The wine is 50% Merlot, 40% Cabernet Sauvignon and 10% Petit Verdot, with 3 to 9 months of aging in vats, 50% or which were oak.  Alcohol checks in at 14.5% abv and the wine retails for $26.

This wine shows a medium-dark ruby tint in the glass.  Its nose is laden with dark fruit - blackberry, plum, currant - and laced with licorice, leather and sweet oak spice.  The palate puts on an amazing display of fruit while serving up a savory side that stops just short of bramble.  The tannins are firm and the finish lingers quite a while.  It is a delicious wine.

Les Légendes Pauillac 2017

Pauillac is an appellation within Médoc.  It is noted for its gravel-on-clay soil, which drains well and helps the vines grow deep roots.  Cabernet Sauvignon leads the way here at 65% of the composition, while Merlot makes up the rest.  Alcohol reaches only 12.5% abv and the retail price is $54.

This is a wine with a medium-dark tint to it.  In addition to red berries, the nose brings a floral element and a trace of oak.  On the palate, the fruit is forward while the savory oak notes come in behind.  Tannins are quite firm and the acidity provides a tingle.  The finish is long, with a hint of mint in it.  

Monday, October 25, 2021

Bordeaux Legends - Basic BDX

There is perhaps no name that is more connected with wine from Bordeaux as the name Rothschild.  The Domaines Barons de Rothschild have for years been benchmarks of French wine, a bar to which other winemakers are compared - and one to which they aspire.

DBR (Lafite) has a line of wines, Les Légendes, a line which they say displays that Bordeaux has been in their roots for generations.  The aim of Les Légendes is to let individual appellations in Bordeaux speak for themselves, hopefully bringing a better understanding of the diversity of the Bordeaux region to consumers.

A recent virtual tasting event, hosted by DBR winemaker Diane Flamand, explored five Bordeaux wines from various notable regions - Saint-Émilion, Médoc, and Pauillac and Entre-Deux-Mers.  The wines were made under Flamand's supervision, as they have been since 2004.  

The grapes for the Saint-Émilion, Pauillac and Médoc wines came from DBR (Lafite)'s own vineyards, while the Bordeaux red and white blends were sourced from partner growers in the Entre-Deux-Mers region.  Flamand said during the tasting event that she purchases the Entre-Deux-Mers bottlings as finished wines, from trusted partners.  

Flamand noted that the Les Légendes wines were made to be immediately drinkable and easy to understand.  She did not want anyone to think that these wines had to be cellared for a decade or two before enjoying them.

Les Légendes R Bordeaux Blanc 2020 

The wine is composed of 80% Sauvignon Blanc grapes and 20% Sémillon.  Alcohol is low, at 12% abv and the wine retails for $19.

This white Bordeaux wine is tinted yellow and offers a nose of lemons, limes, tropical fruit and loads of minerality.  The grassiness which is present in Sauvignons from other areas is extremely muted here.  The palate is as crisp and fresh as it gets, with juicy fruit and savory minerals working together with a bracing acidity.

Les Légendes Bordeaux Rouge 2018  

This red blend was made from an equal mixture of Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon grapes.  Forty percent of the wine was aged in oak for nine months, keeping the wood effect to a minimum.  Alcohol is fairly standard at 14.5% abv and the retail price is only $19.

This is an extremely dark wine, and the nose jumps out of the glass so forcefully you don't really need to get too close to smell it.  When the smell reaches your nose, it is dark and savory, with the red and blue berries joined by aromas of cigar box, leather, earth and a hint of oak spice.  The palate replicates the nose, with dark berry flavors and savory streaks of earth and minerals.  The tannins are fairly firm, but they soften a bit with some time in the glass or decanted.  The finish is lengthy and features the savory side of the flavor profile. 

The next post will cover the Les Légendes wines from Saint-Émilion, Pauillac and Médoc. 

Friday, October 22, 2021

Blood Of The Vines - Still More Movies You Never Heard Of

Pairing‌‌‌ ‌‌‌wine‌‌‌ ‌‌‌with‌‌‌ ‌‌‌movies!‌‌‌  ‌‌‌See‌‌‌ ‌‌‌the‌‌‌ ‌‌‌trailers‌‌‌ ‌‌‌and‌‌‌ ‌‌‌hear‌‌‌ ‌‌‌the‌‌‌ ‌‌‌fascinating‌‌‌ ‌‌‌commentary‌‌‌ ‌‌‌for‌‌‌ ‌‌‌these‌‌‌ ‌‌‌‌‌movies‌,‌‌ ‌‌‌and‌‌‌ ‌‌‌many‌‌‌ ‌‌‌more‌,‌‌ ‌‌‌at‌‌‌ ‌‌‌Trailers‌‌‌ ‌‌‌From‌‌‌ ‌‌‌Hell.‌‌‌  This week, still more movies you never heard of.  That's right, we ran out of theme ideas again.  I'm sure we'll be all better next week.

People who know me know better than to ask me about wine.  They know that one simple question will ensnare them in a conversation that lasts too long and ends up putting them to sleep.  It's the same with movie aficionados. They always end up talking about movies that were seen by only twelve people in a limited opening in Sherman Oaks.  My kind of people. 

The 2019 sci-fi Vivarium is one of those films.  It takes perhaps the bleakest view of child-rearing ever seen in a movie.  The story involves a couple who are taken to live in a certain house and forced to raise a certain child who was left on their porch.  Any parent will tell you, it's a job raising a kid.  In this case, it is an actual j-o-b, from which they cannot escape.  No amount of "mommy wine" can help.  And in the end, he never calls, he never writes….

The temptation is to pair any old cheap, box-wine Chardonnay with Vivarium, but maybe we won't treat "mommy wine culture" so casually.  It is, basically, functioning alcoholism, after all.  

Let's cheat a bit and call on Domaine Parent for a nice Chardonnay - I mean a really nice Chardonnay.  And "Parent" is Jacques Parent's name, en Français, so it's "pair ONT."  A bottle of his Grand Cru white Burgundy will have you unfolding a Benjamin, but he has a good $20 Chardonnay as well.

Quackser Fortune Has a Cousin in the Bronx is a 1970 comedy you may be completely unaware of, even though it stars Gene Wilder.  He plays a manure collector in Ireland who falls for an American exchange student.  Fortunately for him, he doesn't fall into the manure.  Unfortunately, horses are banned from Dublin's streets and his job goes away faster than that of a West Virginia coal miner.

Good luck finding it, but there is a wine produced in Dublin - Lusca Vineyard.  I would try their Dunkelfelder, if only because I would love to bring out a bottle of it at home and say, "Here's a nice Dunkelfelder."  They make only about 30 cases a year, and it's anyone's guess how they make a living at that volume.

The Touchables provides a 1968 glimpse into the hip scene which blossomed in London in the late '60s.  A famous pop star is kidnapped by four young, beautiful birds, as the Brits would say back then.  They keep him in a big, plastic dome in the English countryside.  Everyone looks for him, but they can't find him.  "Have you tried that big, plastic dome in the countryside?"  Anyway, it wouldn't do any good to find him, as he rather likes the idea of staying with his captors.  

That sort of situation screams out loud for a nice sparkling wine.  There is such a thing, produced in England, not far from London.  Chapel Down Brut will run about $40 in the states, no kidnapping needed.

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Wednesday, October 20, 2021

Central Coast Syrah - Qupé

Qupé specializes in growing and making Rhône-style wines from the Bien Nacido Vineyard in Santa Maria, the Sawyer Lindquist Vineyard in the Edna Valley and the Ibarra-Young Vineyard in Los Olivos.  The former is farmed sustainably while the other two are farmed organically.  They have been at it since 1982.

If you have never heard of them, Qupé is pronounced "kyoo-pay" and is the Chumash Indian word for California poppy.  The winery explains that the Chumash are native to California's Central Coast and Channel Islands.  The California poppy is the state flower.

Founder Bob Lindquist sold the Qupé brand in late 2018 to Vintage Wine Estates, although the deal reportedly allowed him to hang on to his library wines and sell them.  After he was unexpectedly shown the door as consultant and winemaker by Vintage, he formed Lindquist Family Wines as his new label.  The company also includes Verdad, the winery run by his wife Louisa Sawyer Lindquist as well as their collaborative Sawyer Lindquist Wines.

For the 2018 Central Coast Syrah, 10% of the grape clusters were fermented while still on the stems.  This adds a bit of "greenness" or a savory aspect to the wine.  Aging took place over 16 months in French oak barrels, 15% of which were new.  The grapes were sourced from various vineyards located in Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo counties as well as Paso Robles.  Alcohol comes in at 13.5% abv and it retails for $20.  I got mine on sale for $17 at the Whole Foods Market in Malibu.

The wine is dark, and smells that way.  The nose is dominated by blackberry and plum aromas, with a dash of violets thrown in for good measure.  There is also a certain set of fragrances that comes from the oak - spices, tobacco, cedar and the like.  The palate is rich and delightful, if maybe a bit too boisterous.  What do you want from Syrah, though?  The tannins are firm and paired quite well with a glazed pork chop, duck rice and mashed potatoes.

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Monday, October 18, 2021

Sierra Nevada's Big Little Thing IPA

The Big Little Thing Imperial IPA comes from the Sierra Nevada Brewing Company which is, according to the message on the can, "Family owned, operated and argued over."  The company is based in Chico, CA and has an operation in Mills River, NC.  It's becoming more common to find that West Coast breweries open up a shop in the east, presumably to cut down on shipping costs and deliver a fresher beer to their customers.  They are a favorite brewery of mine and have been for years.

Big Little Thing is the companion IPA for their Hazy Little Thing beverage.  This one the company describes as having "a full malt body, restrained sweetness, and tropical hop flavors of mango, grapefruit and tangerine."  For the geeks, the beer employs Pale, Wheat and Munich malts, along with Magnum, Crystal, Chinook, Idaho 7, Columbus, Cascade, Mosaic hops.  Alcohol checks in at 9% abv, a bit higher than most ales.

The Big Little Thing is just that, an ale with a big-feeling malt taste, kinda bitter, with plenty of hops to give those pine and citrus aromas.  The head comes up frothy white at about a finger and a half and subsides quickly, leaving nice lacing on the glass.

Friday, October 15, 2021

Blood Of The Vines - Spooks Run Wild

Pairing‌‌‌ ‌‌‌wine‌‌‌ ‌‌‌with‌‌‌ ‌‌‌movies!‌‌‌  ‌‌‌See‌‌‌ ‌‌‌the‌‌‌ ‌‌‌trailers‌‌‌ ‌‌‌and‌‌‌ ‌‌‌hear‌‌‌ ‌‌‌the‌‌‌ ‌‌‌fascinating‌‌‌ ‌‌‌commentary‌‌‌ ‌‌‌for‌‌‌ ‌‌‌these‌‌‌ ‌‌‌‌‌movies‌,‌‌ ‌‌‌and‌‌‌ ‌‌‌many‌‌‌ ‌‌‌more‌,‌‌ ‌‌‌at‌‌‌ ‌‌‌Trailers‌‌‌ ‌‌‌From‌‌‌ ‌‌‌Hell.‌‌‌  This week, we feel those trick-or-treaters breathing down our necks with a few comical ghost stories.

1964 brought us The Comedy of Terrors from American International Pictures.  Mixing comedy and horror makes me think of the clock radio analogy I have mentioned before - you either get a good clock or a good radio.  AIP, though, had a way with the genre, and the heavyweight names who made it work - Vincent Price, Boris Karloff, Peter Lorre and Basil Rathbone.  They got most of the Tales of Terror gang back together for this one.

The 19th century yarn centers on felons, miscreants and a drunk undertaker who drums up his own business and has only one coffin - which he recycles.  Love plays a role, too, as Joyce Jameson ends up involved in the farce.  You may remember her as the Marilyn Monroe wannabe in The Apartment or as one of the fun girls from Andy Griffith.  The older actors all play their roles with a generous portion of camp, as if they felt it may be their last chance to shine.  The movie didn't exactly get rave reviews at the time, but online raters seem to be warming to it in this century.

I'd love to pair a wine from the Vincent Price Signature Wine Collection with The Comedy of Terrors, but they seem to be unavailable these days.  Price was quite the food and wine aficionado, and he liked his wines simple but elegant.  Go for Joseph Drouhin Macon-Villages, a beautiful Chardonnay which can be had for under $15.

From 1966, The Ghost and Mr. Chicken features the great Don Knotts in his prime, surrounded by a host of the best character actors who were working at the time.  The movie was inspired by the "Haunted House" episode of The Andy Griffith Show.  It was Griffith's idea to fashion the movie as a Knotts vehicle.  Knotts plays a wannabe reporter who is assigned to spend the night in a supposedly haunted house.  

The movie poster promised that viewers would be scared until they laughed themselves silly.  The horror never really materializes, but the laughs are there, thanks to Knotts' shaky scaredy-cat persona.  Attaboy, Luther!

I may be reaching a bit, but a wine pairing from a winery in Mt. Airy, N.C. just feels right.  It was Griffith's hometown and the inspiration for TV's Mayberry.  I think Knotts would nervously agree, shaking his head and hands as his "old salt'n'pepper" sport coat swallowed him.  Round Peak Vineyards has a full menu of wines - dry and sweet - and uses good ol' American Appalachian oak for its aging barrels.

The Banana Monster was originally titled Shlock when a very young TFH Guru John Landis made it in 1971.  He also starred in it, wearing a gorilla suit designed by none other than seven-time Oscar winner Rick Baker.  Landis explains that after his success with Animal House, the distributor revived it with the new title.  People didn't like it under either name and stayed away in droves.  It is notable mainly for Landis being perhaps the skinniest gorilla you have ever seen. Jump cut to the drinks.

Banana wine is an obvious choice here, but you apparently have to make your own - nobody seems to sell it pre-made.  Hmm, I wonder why?  Here's an idea: Banana Schnapps.  Listen, it was good enough for your high school hip flask.  You're watching Schlock and complaining about drinking Schnapps?  A spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down, you know.

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Wednesday, October 13, 2021

A White Wine For An Al Fresco Lunch

One of life's great pleasures is having a lunch outdoors when the winter weather starts turning warm for spring.  It works in reverse, too.  We had a wonderful lunch recently when the temperatures in Southern California dropped enough to make it comfortable on a dining patio.  In each case, a good white wine is mandatory - for me, anyway.

The Alexandre Sirech 2019 Les Deux Terroirs is a white wine blend, made from 70% Colombard, 20% Ugni Blanc and 10% Gros Manseng.  These are grapes that most people probably don't get to taste very often, if at all.  Colombard was originally used in France in the making of Cognac.

These grapes were grown in the Gironde region of Bordeaux and the Côtes de Gascogne in Southwest France.  The winery says that one of the vineyards is on a gravelly plateau overlooking the Pyrenees Mountains.  No oak was used in the making of the wine, alcohol tips 11.5% abv and it sells for $22 a bottle where I live.

This lightly tinted, greenish wine brings a nose that is heavy on the minerals, with citrus and a slight floral aspect.  The aroma is dominated by a beautiful savory sense.  The palate is mineral-laden, and has a flinty salinity and a savory finish.  The nice acidity makes it a great wine to pair with seafood.  I had mine with a lovely quiche Lorraine at Monsiour Marcel’s in L.A.’s Farmers Market.  My wife loved it and immediately wanted to make a cocktail with it, using Creme de Cassis.  We may just do that.  

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Monday, October 11, 2021

And Now, An IPA From Santa Monica

There are very few songs written about Santa Monica, California, probably because it's tough to find a word which rhymes with it, other than harmonica.  Not a deep well of inspiration, there. 

However, there may be an ode or two written about the beer.  Santa Monica Brew Works makes what they call the Head in the Clouds Double IPA.  That may be a left-handed way of saluting the left-leaning populace there, or it may reflect the general attitude of those who have an ocean readily available to them for their daily inspiration.  Either way, it works.

Labeled as "juicy" and "beach brewed," the former claim nails it.  The latter, though, suffers a bit since the Colorado Avenue location is a good 19 blocks from Santa Monica Bay.  To be fair, when I lived in Santa Monica I was 21 blocks from the beach and, due to the elevation, could still see the water.

The hops used in Head in the Clouds are listed as Citra, Mosaic, Summit and Wakatu.  Alcohol sits at 8.5% abv and my 4-pack of pint cans came from Trader Joe's.  It is a hoppy brew which the label claims was "brewed for the dreamers who seek an elevated beer experience."  Elevate away, Santa Monica.

The head is half a finger of off-white foam.  The nose displays a lot of citrus and a nice pine element, too.  The palate is on the bitter side, but very juicy - as billed - and quite refreshing.  The finish lingers nicely and has a nutty aftertaste.

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Friday, October 8, 2021

Blood Of The Vines - Down Under With BTS

Pairing‌‌‌ ‌‌‌wine‌‌‌ ‌‌‌with‌‌‌ ‌‌‌movies!‌‌‌  ‌‌‌See‌‌‌ ‌‌‌the‌‌‌ ‌‌‌trailers‌‌‌ ‌‌‌and‌‌‌ ‌‌‌hear‌‌‌ ‌‌‌the‌‌‌ ‌‌‌fascinating‌‌‌ ‌‌‌commentary‌‌‌ ‌‌‌for‌‌‌ ‌‌‌these‌‌‌ ‌‌‌‌‌movies‌,‌‌ ‌‌‌and‌‌‌ ‌‌‌many‌‌‌ ‌‌‌more‌,‌‌ ‌‌‌at‌‌‌ ‌‌‌Trailers‌‌‌ ‌‌‌From‌‌‌ ‌‌‌Hell.‌‌‌  This week TFH Guru Brian Trenchard-Smith takes us on a cinematic journey to The Land Down Under..  Of course, there are wine pairings for each.

The Nightingale is a 2018 Australian western set in the penal colonies of Van Diemen's Land, an island now known as Tasmania.  The British, in the 19th century, sent their hardened criminals to the colonies instead of incarcerating them in that blessed plot, that earth, that realm, that England.  They might have used the American colonies as their criminal dumping ground, had it not been for a little thing called the Revolutionary War.  "No thanks, England.  We have our own criminals to put behind bars!"  "Right, yes, that island down under, that will do."

The film centers on an Irish woman's search for revenge against British military officers who attacked her and her family.  Oh, yeah, she's angry.  She teams up with an Aboriginal tracker and sets out to beat the brush, looking for those responsible.  Woe be to those who have incurred her wrath.

There happens to be a wine which seems tailor-made for The Nightingale19 Crimes features wine labels depicting an array of criminals who received "punishment by transportation."  There is even an app which allows one to hear their stories through a code on the label.  It also seems that Snoop is now connected with the company.  There is no mention of what crimes he copped to, except that of shilling his Cali Rosé while wearing a hoodie.

The 1940 war film, 40,000 Horsemen, focuses on several young members of the Australian Light Horse, a cavalry on horseback, which played a big role in several battles of WWI.  They fought - and defeated - the enemy in the Sinai desert, staging what was reportedly the "last successful cavalry charge in history."

It's not all horseplay, of course.  There is a love angle which involves a fair maiden who has an eye for the mounted military man.  The romance blossoms after the young woman saves the life of one of the three young soldiers.  She happens to be the daughter of a French wine merchant who is killed by the Germans for spying, so there's some revenge in this movie, too.  When they start messing with the wine guy, that's when I get mad.  

This wine is a little hard to find, but the Four Horsemen Sangiovese hails from Australia's McLaren Vale.  Four horsemen down, 39,996 to go.

The first movie to feature two Aboriginal actors in the lead roles was Jedda, in 1955.  It was also shot in color, a first for an Australian film.  The Gevacolor process was complicated, but then so was shooting a movie in the Australian outback.  Things get done.

The title role is an Aboriginal woman who was raised by a white foster mother in Australia's Northern Territory.  Always barred from learning anything about her own roots, she aims to find out for herself as a young woman.  She starts with an Aboriginal man who caught her eye.  That turns out to be a bad idea.

He sweeps her up and takes her to his people, but they're not having it because she is not their kind of people.  You can see the tragedy coming a mile away, but the movie's narrator spins it as two more for "the great mother of the world."  So much for the happy ending.  No wonder Hollywood didn't want to finance the picture.

The Northern Territory is an official wine region in Australia, but the area is not hospitable for the growing of the grapes.  The land is either bone dry or tropically humid.  The area was given official status simply so that every state and territory in the country could claim it.

There is a distillery - Seven Seasons - which offers such liquid refreshment as Green Ant Gin, Bush Apple Gin and Native Yam Vodka.  That first one is not just a catchy name, by the way.  The gin is actually made from real green ants.  They say they taste like coriander, which begs the question, why not just use coriander?  It's easier to harvest and it won't walk away from you.  Anyway, Green Ant Gin has been winning awards, so there must be something there.

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Wednesday, October 6, 2021

Windsor Vineyards Gets Personal With Their Wine

Many wineries find it resourceful to create an additional revenue stream by making personalized labels for the wine they sell.  Sonoma County's Windsor Vineyards does this, and they sent me a bottle of bubbly to show me what it looks like.

The wine is Windsor's Platinum Series Brut Rosé North Coast sparkling wine.  It is made through the Méthode Champenoise of secondary fermentation in the bottle, just like in Champagne.  This one has the name of my wine website plastered on the front of the bottle.

For Windsor, it would seem to be more about the private labeling than it is about the wine.  However, Windsor - founded by wine legend Rodney Strong in 1959 - has been winning awards for their wines for decades.  They are now owned by Vintage Wine Estates.

The personalized labels actually started way back in the day, with Strong.  He started putting personalized labels on the wine - Mr. and Mrs., Happy Birthday, the law firm of Dewey, Cheatham and Howe - and the tradition continues today.

The Windsor Platinum Series Brut Rosé North Coast sparkler was aged in the bottle, on the spent yeast cells, for 19 months.  The non-vintage wine has a full mouthfeel, while presenting a vibrant freshness.  Alcohol is 12.5% abv and the wine retails for $32 with the Windsor label on the bottle.  It costs extra for a personalized label.  They start at $12 with a minimum order of two bottles.

This Sonoma County bubbly is a beautiful copper-salmon color in the glass with a nose of sweet red fruit and toast.  The palate is as dry as a bone and loaded with a racy acidity.  Strawberries, cherries, lemons, tangerines and a truckload of minerals fill out the flavor profile.  Lemon chimes in on the finish.

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Monday, October 4, 2021

This IPA Is Maximus, Colossal

West Coast IPAs have been favorites for me for quite some time now, and I just discovered another one.  The Lagunitas Maximus Colossal IPA comes from Petaluma, California and is loaded with hops.  The website says the great taste comes from, "Simcoe, Cascade and Centennial hops balanced against tons of rich malted barley—a bed of smooth malted wheat, biscuity Munich malt, and English Crystal."  They say on the can that the beer is "For all the hop heads."

Also on the can, in tiny type around the top of the can, is a bit of Lorem Ipsum drivel: "Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing élit! Donec Maximus… uh… ex et nisi aliquam commodo… Are you not entertained?!"  I'm always entertained by Latin babbling.

This beer clocks in at a heady 9% abv and sells for the nice price of $2.50 for a bigger-than-a-pint can.  

The body is copper colored, and it shows off a lightly yeasty, malty nose.  Malt and hops each vie for the lead on the palate, and it’s a great fight.  A bitter finish brings that West Coast style home with plenty of fanfare.

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Friday, October 1, 2021

Blood Of The Vines - Desert Heat

Pairing‌‌‌ ‌‌‌wine‌‌‌ ‌‌‌with‌‌‌ ‌‌‌movies!‌‌‌  ‌‌‌See‌‌‌ ‌‌‌the‌‌‌ ‌‌‌trailers‌‌‌ ‌‌‌and‌‌‌ ‌‌‌hear‌‌‌ ‌‌‌the‌‌‌ ‌‌‌fascinating‌‌‌ ‌‌‌commentary‌‌‌ ‌‌‌for‌‌‌ ‌‌‌these‌‌‌ ‌‌‌‌‌movies‌,‌‌ ‌‌‌and‌‌‌ ‌‌‌many‌‌‌ ‌‌‌more‌,‌‌ ‌‌‌at‌‌‌ ‌‌‌Trailers‌‌‌ ‌‌‌From‌‌‌ ‌‌‌Hell.‌‌‌  This week's three films deal with heat.  Hot heat.  Desert heat.

1962 found Great Britain and West Germany collaborating on an action picture, Station Six Sahara.  The movie is a remake of 1938's S.O.S. SaharaCarroll Baker plays a beautiful woman who turns up at a tiny oil pipeline station in the desert.  She and her husband just happen to be driving along, three days from anywhere, when he crashes the car.  Wrong turn?  "Shoulda made a left at Albakoykee."  

His attempt at killing both of them lands him in the sick bay, where he can only imagine what his estranged bombshell wife is doing with the five men who work there.  They leer at her the way the cartoon wolf saw sheep as mutton, and she leers back.  The film's sexual heat is as real as that of the desert, which surprised at least one critic, since the British were involved.

The movie was shot in Libya, which provided some problems for actress Baker.  That country had no provision for a sexpot wandering around in her bra.  Martin Scorsese was fond enough of the film to include it in a list of a couple dozen faves.

For this arid movie, let's look to Orin Swift's David Phinney and his 8 Years in the Desert wine.  It's a $50 blend of Zinfandel, Syrah and Petite Sirah which - oddly enough - spent eight months in the barrel.  Of course, in S.O.S. Sahara, three days in the desert was too long.

The desert could hardly seem more inhospitable than in the Australian 2015 film Mad Max: Fury Road, the fourth film in the string of Mad Max movies.  To describe the scenario merely as post-apocalyptic makes it seem like less than it is, like it's just an unusually hot day.  It is oppressive just to think about the unrelenting bleakness of a life in which water and gasoline are the only concerns.  Thankfully, we get to worry about water, gasoline and why that guy isn't masked up.

Charlize Theron brings a feminist touch to the Mad Max series, as an able replacement for the male kingpins of past episodes.  This movie garnered some critical praise and a heap of Oscar noms - ten, winning six.

Certainly, an Australian wine is proper here - even though there is a German Riesling which inexplicably bears the name Mad Max.  Penfolds is the choice, their Max's Shiraz sells for just $25.  By the way, it’s a nod to winemaker Max Schubert, not the movie series.

The Professionals, in 1966, assembled an all-star cast for the story of what is basically a mob hit in the old west.  Burt Lancaster, Lee Marvin, Robert Ryan, Jack Palance, Ralph Bellamy and Claudia Cardinale should require more than one movie screen for all that acting talent.  

The story revolves around a group of men - all trained in various ways of killing - who are hired by an American to rescue his kidnapped wife in Mexico.  Guess what, though?  She's not kidnapped - she ran off with a bandit.

Some of the filming took place in Nevada, and there's a wine for that.  The Pahrump Valley Winery bills itself as Nevada's Winery in the Desert.  Their Vinho Doce Port-style wine is barrel-aged and serves as a great wine to pair with some Mexican chocolate.

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