Friday, September 30, 2022

Blood Of The Vines - Asian Explosion

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 have three films which bring a container ship of action from the Far East, and a wine pairing for each of them.

Shogun Assassin is a 1980 mashup of a pair of popular samurai flicks. Like the rest of that year's pop culture, things go from great to lousy in a heartbeat. For every M*A*S*H there's a Dukes of Hazzard. For every Squeeze, there's an Air Supply. For every "Call Me" there’s a "Keep On Loving You." Caught on the fence? There's "Whip It."

"Meet the greatest team in the history of mass slaughter," screams the movie poster for Shogun Assassin. The picture shows a samurai warrior wielding blood-soaked swords, with a little kid in tow. For every "Awww" there's an "ewww." "Sword and sorcery … with a vengeance," the sales blurb goes on. But, ultimately, words fail to capture the magic of a blood stained killer holding a baby. 

Koi Pond Cellars has a red and a white in their Samurai line - a Merlot and a Chardonnay from central Washington. I have no idea why the Parkers dedicated a line of their wines to samurai, but they also have a set of Geisha blends.

1975 - the year that tried to tell us how crappy the '80s were going to be - gave us Inframan. This Hong Kong superhero show pits the Super Inframan against Demon Princess Elzebub. The actual translations of those names are more like "Chinese Superman" and "Princess Dragon Mom," but I think the producers were wise to change them. The DC universe alone is loaded with lawyers, and who knows who takes care of dragon mom copyright infringement?

This bionic-man-meets-kung-fu tale is spun from the same cloth that made Ultraman, so you see a lot of pose-striking. That's how the Thunderball Fists come flying out, silly! Speaking of which, did the James Bond franchise sign off on naming those fists after one of their movies?

Dragonette Cellars makes incredible Sauvignon Blanc wines in Buellton, with a Los Olivos tasting room. Dragon moms and dragon dads alike should find them to be enjoyable pairings with Inframan.  

From 1989 came Tetsuo the Iron Man, a Japanese body horror film that looks like low-budget Cronenberg. When Tetsuo's characters may feel the effects of iron-poor blood, they don't take Geritol - they eat a toaster or stick a piece of rebar in their leg. What happens with a power drill is the stuff from which snuff was made.

Descriptions cannot do this film justice, much like Eraserhead a dozen years before. You may not understand it, but you'll sure as hell never forget it.

That opens the door for a pairing with a South African Pinotage wine. The grape got a bad rap back in the day when people said Pinotage tasted like a rusty nail. Not the cocktail, an actual rusty nail. Improvements were made, and nowadays Pinotage has more wine-like descriptors attached to it, like tar, bacon fat, pipe tobacco and herbal tea. Beeslaar Wines makes a high-end, single-vineyard bottling. 

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Wednesday, September 28, 2022

Kosher Wine With A Fruity Twist

The Buzz line is produced by the Israeli winery Carmel, which was founded in 1882 by none other than Château Lafite's Baron Edmond de Rothschild. Buzz wines are flavored Moscatos, easy-to-drink sweeties which are targeted to GenZ drinkers. They come in peach, mango and pineapple and have a nice fizz to them. 

The Carmel Buzz Mango Moscato Sweet Bubbly Wine 2021 has low alcohol - just 5.5% abv - and a retail sticker of $11. The grapes were grown in the Judean Hills region of Israel and the wine is kosher for Passover.

The wine pours up with a golden tint, a nice bit of foamy bubbles and a nose that practically rides a rocket out of the glass. Despite the advertised mango, it's peach I smell most. Hints of nectarine and pear are also on hand. On the palate, again, it's peach that comes through strongest, but there is some mango in there. It's sweet, whatever it is. The mouthfeel has some viscosity to it and the finish is medium long. Aside from not being too terribly complex, this wine offers nothing to complain about. 

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Monday, September 26, 2022

A California Pinot Grigio You'll Probably Like

Bread & Butter's 2021 Pinot Grigio is described as a "California Pinot Grigio," but the Napa location is more prominently displayed on the Bread & Butter label. Is this a ploy to make the buyer think they’re getting a Napa Valley wine? Is this a mostly Napa Valley wine? As the company's website says, "Don’t overthink it." Bread & Butter winemaker Linda Trotta says if you like it, it's a good wine. A lot of people are going to like this one. No matter where the grapes were sourced. Alcohol hits 12.5% abv and it retails for about $15.

The wine shows pale yellow in the glass and smells of stone fruit and flowers, with a slight nuttiness to the nose. The palate has a nice bit of minerality and salinity to go along with the peach and apricot flavors. The acidity is a little tame, so sip it or pair it with a salad. 

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Friday, September 23, 2022

Blood Of The Vines - Black Lives Matter

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 have three films which center on race relations in America, with wine pairings for each, from African-American winemakers.

Racial tensions and the violence that often results from them are the focus of Spike Lee's 1989 classic, Do the Right Thing. The scenes in this movie have been played over and over in real life through the decades - the mistrust, the fear, the anger, the chokehold, the senseless death, the trashing of a business, the remorse. It makes one wonder if, indeed, we can't all just get along.

Many critics of the day hailed Right Thing as one of the best movies ever made, while just as many shrugged it off as a play on white guilt. The latter crowd no doubt asked themselves, "Does he have to play that boombox so loudly?" The film ends on the differing views of Dr. Martin Luther King and Malcolm X, with no real indication of which man had the better idea.

Our wine pairing has to be the right thing. Stuyvesant Champagnes sounds like it hits the mark. Vintner Marvina Robinson named it after her hometown, Brooklyn's Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood, where the movie is set. It is real Champagne, however, made from grapes grown mainly in the Marne Valley. Robinson says she is one of only a few African-American women to own a Champagne brand.

1968 was a big year for racial tensions. Baltimore, Boston, Cleveland, Detroit, Pittsburgh and Washington, D.C. were ripped apart by racial rage following King's assassination. The Story of a Three-Day Pass was written and directed by Melvin Van Peebles, and given a major release after the violence that erupted the following April.

Pass is the story of a black American serviceman in France who is given a three-day pass after his promotion. During his weekend in Paris, he has a whirlwind fling with a white woman. When they get wind of this back at the base, he is busted. His crime: interracial romance. Don't ask don't tell, indeed. Someone told on him.

La Fête du Rosé comes from the Côtes de Provence region. Founder Donae Burston says he discovered rosé while in St. Tropez for his 30th birthday. He admits that he thought everyone was drinking white Zinfandel. One taste set him straight. Now he gives a portion of his proceeds to organizations which help people of color find their way in the wine world.

1961's A Raisin in the Sun has a superb cast, headed up by Sidney Poitier and Ruby Dee. In the movie, we see a black family's struggle to get ahead in Chicago amid personal tragedy, money troubles and race discrimination.  Unlike TV's The Jeffersons, they never make it to a "deluxe apartment in the sky."  They do, however, manage to maintain the family's dignity while "movin' on up" to a modest home.

Poitier's performance fills the screen, while everyone else in the credits got rave reviews, too. The film was honored at Cannes with the Gary Cooper Award. It was directed by Daniel Petrie - a white Canadian - while the play's original director on Broadway was Lloyd Richards - a black Canadian. I really would love to have seen what Richards would have done with this on the screen. 

Simply Love Wines is based in Chicago, but owner/vintner Barbara Jackson uses Napa grapes to produce a white, a pink and two reds.

Wine Enthusiast magazine has a more complete listing of black-owned wine labels.

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Wednesday, September 21, 2022

Chenin Blanc Wine For Cooking And Drinking

The Vignobles Lacheteau Vouvray 2021 is a semi-dry white wine from France's Loire Valley. Vouvray is an appellation, not a grape. Most of the white wines of Vouvray are made from Chenin Blanc grapes, as is this one.

This Vouvray - I bought it for cooking, but drank what was left - is a great match for something spicy, like Thai or Indian food. Alcohol is restrained, at 11.5% abv and the wine ran me just under ten bucks at my local Trader Joe's grocery.

The very pale straw-tinted wine has a floral bouquet which carries with it a tangerine scent that also appears in the flavor profile. A flinty note balances the fruit with some minerality. Acidity is nice, but not too racy, perfect for pairing with those spicy cuisines. 

Monday, September 19, 2022

Russian River Bubbles, In Pink

The folks at Sonoma-Cutrer are celebrating 40 years of passion, imagination and pride in 2022.  They say their approach to winemaking "marries Burgundian traditions and California ingenuity." Their trophy case is brimming with awards their wines have won through the decades.

The winery says that the 2019 vintage featured rain, rain and more rain, plus a summer free of radical temperature extremes.  The harvest started a week later than usual and proceeded methodically - just the way a winemaker wants it. 

The grapes are 70% Owsley Pinot Noir and 30% Chardonnay from the Vine Hill vineyard, both prime locations in the Russian River Valley. This pink sparkler was crafted by Sonoma-Cutrer's Pinot Noir Winemaker, Zidanelia Arcidiacono. The wine rested on the spent yeast cells for two and a half years before disgorging. Alcohol sits at 12% abv and it retails for $55.

This pink rosé has a light onionskin hue and a decent froth of bubbles which form on the pour. The nose has strawberry and cherry aromas mixed in with a toasty scent. The palate is busy with red fruit and minerality, while the acidity is razor sharp. It is the sort of sparkling wine which is thought to be a "special occasion" wine, but don't wait. Opening this bottle is the special occasion. 

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Friday, September 16, 2022

Blood Of The Vines - Revenge: A Dish Served Cold

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 examine three films which center on getting even, with wine pairings for each.

Mandy is a 2018 action/horror film. It is a bloody, trippy, stylish movie which shows revenge served as cold as it gets. When you see Nicholas Cage take off on a revenge mission armed with an axe and a crossbow - the latter weapon has a name, by the way - you realize you expect Cage to be armed with an axe and a crossbow - one with a name, hell yeah.

Be prepared to see more blood than a heart surgeon sees as this tale of an unhinged man avenging his wife's murder spins off into the ozone. There is no denying that the bad guys have it coming to them - they are the sort of bad guys who scare away other bad guys. And, if you've ever wondered how you would handle this kind of revenge situation - I'll bet you'd want to handle it just like Cage's character does. As bloody as it can possibly be.

For Nicholas Cage, let's pair a wine from J. Cage Cellars of Sonoma County - no relation. Cage is Francis Ford Coppola's nephew, but changed his name to avoid looking like the beneficiary of nepotism. J. Cage has a handful of lovely Pinot Noirs available for around $50. Don't serve them cold - but a slight chill is perfectly alright.

It was 1958 when Hammer Films released Revenge of Frankenstein to an unsuspecting world. Well, maybe not so unsuspecting, since it was the second of six Frankenfilms put out by Hammer. 

Revenge works more like a graveyard farce than a horror film. People keep evading trouble by showing a dead body, of which there seem to be plenty around for the showing. Little games of "who's in the casket" serve to mix up the horror into a frothy lather laced with gallows humor.

Since Revenge stars Peter Cushing, let's make a cocktail named for him. The Peter Cushing blends a jigger of dry gin and a half jigger of ginger wine. Stone's makes one that's affordable. Stir with ice and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Personally, I never make a cocktail with a half jigger of anything, so adjust accordingly. Hell, the movie is an hour and a half long - make a pitcher. By the way, it is said to be smooth and complex, like Mr. Cushing himself.

The Abominable Dr. Phibes, from 1971, is a legitimate black comedy starring the great Vincent Price and the also great Joseph Cotten. Price plays a man who lost his wife in surgery a few years earlier, and he blames - you guessed it - her surgeons. To sum it up in a few words: they… will… pay.

His revenge is loosely based on the Ten Plagues of Egypt, which are more plagues than he needs, but not as many as he wants. Spoiler alert: the self embalming scene is probably one of the grislier concepts ever put to celluloid. But, in a fun way.

Price was a wine aficionado - he even had a wine tasting scene in The Black Cat segment of Tales of Terror - so this wine pairing must be perfect. You can listen to Price's opinion on the elegance of serving wine with dinner, although he is a California wine tout in this EP, which dates back to before Cali was on the world's wine map.

He likes Port, so let's go with a California Port-style wine as a pairing for Phibes. True Port, of course, only comes from Portugal, but I'll not raise the hackles of the revenge-minded Dr. Phibes. Bogle makes a lovely dessert wine of Petite Sirah grapes. Blood red, by the way.

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Wednesday, September 14, 2022

Great Bubbles From Mendocino County

Scharffenberger explains that they have been "pioneering super premium Mendocino California sparkling wine since 1981, with grapes sourced from Scharffenberger's own 120 acres of vineyards, as well as select vineyards belonging to trusted growers in Mendocino County." The estate is located in the Anderson Valley, where it was founded four decades ago.

The grapes in question are 55% Chardonnay and 45% Pinot Noir. The wine spent two years aging on the spent yeast cells, then another six months in the bottle. The alcohol sits at 12.5% abv and the wine sells for around $29.

This wine pours up with a nice, white froth on top of the salmon pink juice. The nose comes forth with a healthy whiff of cherries. On the palate, the red berries come up alongside the nice yeasty bread flavor. It's a fizzy drink with a great acidity and a lovely finish. 

Monday, September 12, 2022

Mosketto By Bronco

There is a big market these days for sweet wines.  Sweet in the sense that they are not dry, but not exactly dessert style.  Mosketto Frizzante Bianco - from Bronco Wines - should appeal to those looking for a low-alcohol beverage in the White Claw vein.  I was not bowled over by its complexity, but for sweet, fizzy fun, it fits perfectly.  The Moscato grapes came from Italy's Piedmont region and the wine hits only 5% abv for alcohol content - really partially fermented grape juice - while selling for $12.  Don't pair it with dessert, by the way - it goes better with salty snacks.

This one is all Moscato.  The wine is actually a partially fermented grape juice.  Sweet on the nose, sweet on the palate - with a bit of fizz thrown in to make it feel more like a party.  This is a wine for gulping by the pool, not a wine for ruminating upon.  

Friday, September 9, 2022

Blood Of The Vines - Sidney Furie, Director

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 examine three films directed by Sidney Furie, with wine pairings for each.

Sidney Furie is a Canadian-born film director who helped forge a movie industry in his home country, sort of like Canadian-born Paul Shaffer forged a musical sidekick industry. TFH Guru Daniel Kremer wrote a book about his life and, in the process, unearthed one of his early films which was thought to be lost. Good work, DK!

Furie couldn't get much of a career going in Canada - what with no film biz to speak of at the time - but the Brits were onto him in the late 1950s as a young man who had a way with celluloid stories. He moved to England and directed horror, comedy and musical flicks before striking gold in the mid-1960s with The Ipcress Files, his dark take on the spy genre.

Furie's previous movie, The Leather Boys, was arguably even darker. About a gay biker in London's rocker scene, the film was pretty steamy for its time and has been hailed as a watershed moment in queer cinema. Everybody seems to be sleeping with everybody else, and no one is really all that happy about it. Ah, life in the south London suburbs - all the grit, at no extra charge.

I was tempted to pair a wine from the southern Rhône Valley with this film, due to the hint of leather one would expect on the nose. Then I found this Paso Robles Zinfandel from Four Vines, The Biker. The label shows a young lady biker who has limited the leather to her head and feet, opting for lace elsewhere. 

1970's The Lawyer has Furie directing Barry Newman as Superlawyer Tony Petrocelli, who would later carry the role to TV. The ripped-from-real-life story is loosely based on the Sam Sheppard murder trial, in which a doctor is sent up the river for killing his wife, then beats the rap in a second trial a decade later.

What makes a superlawyer in the days before Well, driving really fast has a lot to do with it. You have to drive fast when you spend so much time chasing ambulances. Also, you have to really care about the drunks and other losers you are keeping out of jail while waiting for the big case to fall into your lap.

The wine industry has lawyers that specialize in their needs, just like every other profession. Dickenson, Peatman and Fogarty, for instance, in northern California, can see a winery through struggles with governmental bureaucracy or vineyard title disputes - the less appealing side of the wine business. I wonder, do they offer a cut rate to namesakes of their company masthead? Ask the tasting room attendant the next time you travel to Thomas Fogarty Winery in the Santa Cruz Mountains. They may not be able to comment on current litigation, but they have a Pinot Noir that's perfect to pour while viewing The Lawyer

The 1975 black comedy Sheila Levine is Dead and Living in New York is reminiscent of, but not related to, "Tina Delgado is alive, alive!"

Delgado was a figment of boss radio's imagination. Levine was a shy girl from Pennsylvania who hit the big city with a suitcase full of naïveté. A one night stand upsets her, and she packs it in and returns home to live with her parents. That's not working out either, so it's back to the Big Apple for a little more heartbreak. Critics had to type their reviews with one hand, because they were holding their noses with the other. Eh, ya can't win 'em all.

If you're looking to pair a wine with a movie about a young woman's innocence lost, how about a nice Pinot Blanc from Oregon's St. Innocent Winery? The winemaker says he named the place after his father, who was not a saint but did carry the baggage of the middle name of Innocent. Still, he probably got less of an ass-kicking in third grade than the Boy Named Sue.

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Wednesday, September 7, 2022

Deep Pink From Rioja

Cune is easier to say than CVNE, which is the real acronym of the wine company spelled out as Compañia Vinicola del Norte de España. This Rioja wine outfit has been owned and operated by the same family since 1879. That's when the Real de Asúa brothers got the wine ball rolling. Today, the family has seven wineries in four of Spain's main wine-growing regions - Rioja, Penedés, Ribera del Duero, and Valdeorras.

The 2020 Cune Rosado is all Rioja Tempranillo. The grapes were picked in Rioja Alta, vinified in stainless steel vats and bottled for release. The vintage held plenty of rain and even some hail, but mild temperatures resulted in an earlier-than-usual harvest. Alcohol rests at 14.5% abv and the bottle cost $13 at my local Whole Foods Market.

This Spanish pinkie has a beautiful red color, almost brick red, and a nose which carries red fruit along on an earthy bouquet. That earth is also notable on the palate, where it once again travels in tandem with cherries and strawberries. 

Monday, September 5, 2022

Sangria In A Bottle

People sometimes don't give wine importers enough credit for what they do. The best importers are those with a nose for wine, who can sniff out good stuff through endless trials, then bring the product to us. Great importers like Kermit Lynch and Terry Theise are as important and as recognizable as great producers.  

Mack and Schühle are Miami-based importers who find great wine and pass it along at a fair price. Founded in 1939, the company expanded to the Miami office about a decade ago. They produce wine in Italy and Spain and distribute other wines globally.

Art of Earth is a global vintner which makes wine from organic vineyards the world over. Their line includes bottling from Italy, Spain, France, Germany and Argentina. 

The Art of Earth Bubbly Sangria is more like a frizzante sangria, but who's counting bubbles? The nose of red wine and citrus certainly smells like real sangria, and it tastes like it, too. The Tempranillo and Garnacha grapes from Spain's Castillo-La Mancha region are blended with organic juices to create this summer sipper. Alcohol is super-low, at 7% abv, and it retails for $12.

This fizzy sangria is loads of fun. Tangy and sweet, with lovely citrus notes on the nose, this wine has beautiful red fruit flavors along with the citrus and a lip-smacking acidity. Chill a bottle or two for your next cookout. 

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Friday, September 2, 2022

Blood Of The Vines - Friedkin Freakout!

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 pour up some wine pairings for a few films directed by William Friedkin

The Night They Raided Minsky's, from 1968, is listed as Friedkin's fictional description of the 1925 invention of the striptease. Well, burly-kew may not have seen the footlights until that time frame, but I'll bet that the striptease was actually invented shortly after they came up with clothing.

The burlesque shows staged by the Minsky brothers were roundly criticized by decent folk, while famous poets, pundits and publishers whiled away the hours of Prohibition with live nude girls - well, nearly nude - up on the stage. The Minskys were routinely raided by the cops, and the whole burlesque business was shut down in the mid-1930s amid public outcry whipped up by New York City's Mayor LaGuardia. See, if he had been a nicer guy, he might have gotten a better airport named after him.

The critical reception to Minsky's was pretty good and the film made money, although even those who liked it thought the plot was as flimsy as the dancers' costumes. Friedkin reportedly felt he was in over his head during the production and asked to be fired. "Naaah, yer takin' the blame fer this one."

Australia's Burlesque Wines come complete with a pair of legs on the label, outfitted with fishnet and heels. Their website has been pretty quiet for a few years, so I hope they haven't been raided.

1977's Sorcerer can be considered a forgotten classic. Why forgotten? The film came out in the same year as Star Wars; talk about a tough beat. Some say it's a remake of 1953's The Wages of Fear, although that "some" does not include Mr. Friedkin. He should know - he made the movie.

If it really is a forgotten classic, let me refresh your memory. Four desperate men are assigned to haul some nitroglycerin somewhere in South America. Do they have any special training for this? Of course not - if they did, it's a documentary.  If you are watching and wondering, "Hey, where da Sorcerer at?" have no fear. It's the name of one of the nitro-hauling trucks.

I was sitting in the Frolic Room one afternoon when there was a bomb scare down the street. Some drunk wandered in and claimed the LAPD, knowing somehow of his extensive background in explosives, had asked him to defuse the thing. The regulars rolled their eyes at the thought of a cop saying, "Hey you - looks like you've had a few drinks - wanna come over here and cut this wire?" He claimed he didn't have the time to help them out - it was beer thirty and he was late for his bottle. Anyway, desperate, untrained men handling explosives rarely end up in the positive.

I simply didn't have the heart to pair a Bulgarian wine called Explosion with Sorcerer. I took a similar hard pass on any wine-related item which featured Mickey Mouse in a sorcerer's hat, and I urge you to do the same. Família Geisse makes some of the top sparkling wines in that America from the southern hemisphere - in big, bad Brazil, in fact. If you're feeling reckless, shake up a bottle and let it rip.

The French Connection made 1971 an enjoyable year for a lot of people, even if they did pick their feet in Poughkeepsie. Friedkin won an Academy Award for his direction, as did Gene Hackman for his acting. His Oscar should have been wearing a pork pie hat.

The actors who turned down the role of Popeye Doyle reads like a page from the book, 1960s Hollywood Tough Guys, if there were such a tome. It's as if Hackman nodded off in the casting office while waiting, and when he awoke everyone else was gone.

If you want to talk about chase scenes - and who doesn't? - the one in The French Connection has to be at the top of the list, right up there with those from Bullitt, Baby Driver and The Blues Brothers. Friedkin even tried to top his Connection chase nearly a decade later in To Live and Die in L.A. He came close, but the cigar still goes to Poughkeepsie. 

French Connection Wines offers juice made by a real live French winemaker, but in the wine-drenched Texas Hill Country. There could be a movie in that setup, or at least an eight-episode streaming series. Their High Plains Petite Sirah sounds like it could also pair with a Clint Eastwood movie.

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