Friday, February 23, 2024

Blood Of The Vines - Happy Birthday, Sidney

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 celebrate the fact that Sir Sidney Poitier walked the earth with us regular humans for 94 years. His birthday of February 20th is a great reason to pair wines with a few of the films in which he starred.

Sidney Poitier sought out roles that challenged society's norms and he became a loud voice in the fight for civil rights. That, right there, is reason enough to lift a glass in his memory. But on top of his contributions to film, and life in general, the Queen of England made him a knight. An actual knight. I never heard him talk about that, though. If it were me, I would never stop talking about it.

Brother John premiered in 1971, a damn good year for the big screen. The French Connection, Straw Dogs, A Clockwork Orange, The Last Picture Show, Harold and Maude, they were all great films that made a mark. Unfortunately, Brother John didn't make anyone's "Best Of" list. The critics didn't exactly welcome it with open arms. Some of them were downright rude about it. Vincent Canby got a little bit cranky about it.

Brother John is an enigmatic character who has answers to questions no one's asked, answers no one really wants to hear. This puts him at odds with southern law enforcement, a very popular Poitier theme.

Let's choose a wine from a city in France called Poitiers. It is in a region known as Haut-Poitou, and it is a bit of an outlier from its Loire Valley kin. Domaine La Tour Beaumont produces a Cabernet Franc which has a price tag of $10. Incroyable, non?

The real Sidney Poitier vs Southern Law Enforcement movie hit the front burner in 1967 with In the Heat of the Night. Just as the civil rights movement was reaching a riot-stoked peak in America, this film shows a white, racist southern sheriff and a black northern detective learning to work together despite their extreme differences. 

Poitier as Virgil Tibbs has one of the most memorable lines in movie history when he answers Rod Steiger's question about what they call him in Philly. The tense reading of "They call me Mister Tibbs" gave Poitier a career catchphrase. It was so good that it was used as the title for one of the film's sequels. 

There is a Tibbs wine on the market for about $10, and it's a Pinot Noir from Santa Barbara County's Sta. Rita Hills. You're thinking, "Right, a $10 Pinot Noir. Pick up a gallon jug of Gallo while you’re at it." People say the Mayhall Tibbs Pinot Noir is a decent little wine. Still, it is a $10 Pinot Noir. Hey, gamble a little. They call me Mayhall Tibbs.

In 1967, Poitier also starred in To Sir With Love, a pop culture smash that once again left the critics unconvinced. But, it's a fairy tale, innit?  Everyone wanted a teacher like Sir. Social, racial and sexual inequality ended up on a level playing field, thanks to his nurturing hand. South Africa banned the film, so they must have been doing something right. 

Pop star Lulu made her first film appearance in Sir and also sang the title song, which was one of the biggest hits of the year on the charts. The Mindbenders also appeared as the dance band.

Let's lift a glass of British sparkling wine to Sir, with much love. Hattingley Valley Wines makes a classic reserve brut which goes for just $60 a bottle. It is a happy mix of Chardonnay, along with Pinots Noir, Meunière and Gris. Is it as good as Champagne? After you've plunked down the $60, you tell us. 

Happy birthday Sir.

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