Friday, May 31, 2024

Blood Of The Vines - Skirts And Frails

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 wine pairings for three movies about women. Goils. Dolls. Babes. Tootsies. Chicks. Skirts. Frails. There, have we been insulting enough for one preamble? On with the show.

They say women make better wine tasters because they have better taste buds, or more of them. I know that is true in my home, where the wife is the one with the palate. When it comes to spices, she likes to say that I know which ones to use, I just don't know how much to use. I guess I tend to overdo it. In a movie, I don't think my wife would enjoy being called a "skirt" or a "frail," but she doesn’t mind "toots," even in real life.

The Women is a big movie from a big year for movies, 1939. The all-female cast stars Norma Shearer, Joan Collins and Rosalind Russell, so how could it miss, miss? By having no misters, mister. Every speaking role is played by a woman.

In a modern day update, perhaps the jilted Mary and Sylvia would end up together and buy a couple of dogs. Females, of course. But in the end, one of them rejoins her cad while the other sharpens her Jungle Red claws. 

There are several hundred women winemakers in California alone, so it won't be hard to find a gender-appropriate pairing for The Women. A big wine writer once called Heidi Barrett the First Lady of Wine, and who am I to pick a fight with either one of them? Her La SirenaLa Sirena label takes a broad view of California wine, but we want the Napa Cabernet Sauvignon here, Aviatrix, at $75.

1933's Baby Face stars Barbara Stanwyck in one of the last films released before the Production Code was instituted the following year. In fact, many students of film history think Baby Face might be the film that broke the camel's back. 

Stanwyck plays a young woman who was prostituted by her father since she was a teenager. See? That’s Pre-Code for ya. The only man she trusts is a shoemaker. I won't even wade into the irony that a woman's best friend is a guy who makes shoes. In addition to probably giving her the insider's discount, he gives her some advice. He tells her she should quit the small-time sex crimes and use her considerable attributes to turn the tables and become the exploiter instead of the exploitee. 

This lifestyle gets her to The Big Apple and sends her quickly up the corporate ladder. But love eventually rears its adorable head, as it nearly always does in the movies, and she sees her material ways for what they are. 

Oh, come on. Hooker Corner Winery? This wine pairing is like shooting fish in a barrel, although I never understood why anyone would do that. The Indiana purveyor makes mostly sweet wines with lurid names like Guilty Pleasures, Dark Secrets and Pucker Up. They don't ship, so the next time you're near Hooker Corner in Pine Ridge, Indiana, bring $15 and find out how the other half lives. 

Theodora Goes Wild is the 1936 screwball comedy that turned Irene Dunne from a dramatic diva into a comedy queen. She's a member of an upright and uptight small town family. She has a secret identity as the author of a scandalously sexy book, the 50 Shades of Grey of its day. The nature of her secret eventually leaks and results in, guess who? Romance, that's who. 

Theodora has a fine time living the life of a celebrity, but it's a tough act to keep propped up. It's hard out there for a Sunday School teacher-cum-secret sex writer who falls in love with the married son of a lieutenant governor. Scandalous! I don't know how Margaret Dumont managed to not be in this picture. 

Theodora is one of the wine family members of Austria's Winerynull, as fictitious as that family may be. Her picture on the label smacks of the side of a milk carton, but she is said to be the vineyard prankster, so check behind the hay bales if you're looking for her. Her namesake white field blend of mostly Grüner Veltliner and Welschriesling runs about $40. 

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Wednesday, May 29, 2024

GSM Wine From The South Of France

Badet Clément was founded in 1995 by Burgundian winemakers Laurent and Catherine Delaunay. They make a number of different lines and sell some 16 million dollars worth of their wine worldwide.

Their private label, Pontificis, is a Vin de Pays Rouge of the 2022 vintage. The grapes are 40% Grenache, 40% Syrah and 20% Mourvèdre from the Languedoc-Roussillon region, bottled under the Pays d'Oc IGP. Alcohol hits 14% abv and it costs $7 at Trader Joe's. 

This medium-dark wine offers a nose of black plums, blueberries and blackberries along with aromas of earth, tobacco, cedar, clove and nutmeg. I understand that the three segments were vinified in both barrels and tanks, with no more than six months of aging. Given that, it is understandable that oak does not take a more prominent position.

The palate is loaded with dark fruit and savory notes, and it has a firm tannic grip with lively acidity. I had it with some sautéed meatballs and Petit Basque cheese. It paired excellently. 

Monday, May 27, 2024

Soave Classico For Pasta Primavera

Italian food calls for Italian wine, in my book at least. I usually end up having some kind of lovely Sangiovese-based wine with my tomato sauce and pasta. Sangiovese generally goes into the sauce, too, which helps the pairing. Recently I made a pasta primavera with way too much butter and way too much cream. I happened to have a wine on hand that balanced the meal for me. Not a Sangiovese, though. Soave Classico.

Soave Classico is quite a different wine from Soave. The Classico region of the Soave DOC has a higher altitude and a volcanic aspect to the soil, which is imparted into the Garganega (90%) and Trebbiano (10%) grapes of the 2022 Villa Molino Soave Classico. The wine is much better than the label, which features a picnic basket and a cute little dog who is packing the wine in his saddlebags. Alcohol hits only 12% abv and the bottle can be had for less than $10 at Trader Joe's.

This wine has a golden yellow color in the glass. The nose is highly aromatic, with citrus minerals, apricot and a lanolin note competing for attention. The palate is brisk and full, showing Meyer lemon, guava and a hint of pineapple, all laced with a streak of salinity. The acidity is fresh, but not ripping. The long finish has a sense of apricot outlasting all the other flavors. It's a great wine for sipping, but it paired quite nicely with my way too creamy pasta primavera. 

Friday, May 24, 2024

Blood Of The Vines - Massive Monsters

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 need some big wine pairings for some big monster movies. Big. Huge. Massive. 

I watched a lot of monster movies as a young man, often with a group of friends and often accompanied by several bottles of wine. It was a long time ago, but the names Ripple, Boone's Farm and Spanada keep flashing before my eyes. We will try to find bigger, better pairings for this trio of films, each worthy of at least a couple of bottles.

The War of the Gargantuas is a 1966 kaiju film, which in English translates to monster movie. This Japanese production features a pair of hairy yetis which are referred to as Frankensteins, even though they bear no resemblance whatsoever to Mary Shelly's homemade human. The flick was intended to be a sequel to another movie that introduced the non-Frankenstein Frankenstein, but the thread got lost somewhere along the way. It happens. Also, Frankenstein was the doctor, not the monster. I'll just leave that here in case I find some more nits to pick. 

I should mention that the version dubbed for US release dropped all references to Frankenstein, calling them instead, Gargantuas. One is green and one is brown, but there seems to be confusion as to which is which. It reminds me of the joke about the farmer who had trouble differentiating his two horses, only to measure them and find that the black one was a half inch taller than the white one.

The two Gargantuas are brothers, but they end up fighting in a Tokyo death match. I mean, where else would the monsters fight in a proper kaiju? I would say that I won't spoil the ending for you, even though you have probably watched it repeatedly throughout your life. That is some volcano, huh?

I thought it would be too much to expect a wine called gargantua to rear its hairy head, but lo, here it is. Bergström Wines of Dundee, Oregon makes three Syrahs bearing that name, one each from Oregon, Washington and California. The Cali version comes from Santa Maria's Bien Nacido Vineyard, so I don't need to look any further. By the way, the winery says they took the name from Rabelais’ 16th century book called "Gargantua et Pantagruel," not from the movie. Maybe the film was similarly influenced.

"Oh no, there goes Tokyo, go go Godzilla!" Godzilla was released in 1954, but it was 1956 before we got a taste of the Americanized version. After that, it seemed there was always another movie featuring the scaly dinosaur versus one opponent or another. The US release added shots of Raymond Burr sweating while watching the big G on his rampage. 

To say that this was a watershed movie is like saying WWII was kind of an important historical moment. I grew up with Godzilla, maybe you did, too. He is the definitive movie monster, the ultimate kaiju killer. 

"He picks up a bus and he throws it back down

As he wades through the buildings toward the center of town.

Oh no, they say he's got to go,

Go go Godzilla!"

The wine pairing for Godzilla should lean east, far east. Godzilla sake is rice wine for those who like a monster on the label. It is Junmai Daiginjo style, with its rice polished until half the grain is gone. The purveyor promises "strong aromas like Godzilla."

1955's Gigantis the Fire Monster is the title of the Americanized version of Godzilla Raids Again. This sequel to Godzilla was not received well, largely because they tried to pass off a dead monster as a new monster. Such a public relations backfire would not be seen again until New Coke.

A new foe is introduced, Anguirus, and dispensed with in true Godzilla fashion, with a giant atomic belch of fire. The military is sure they got him this time, but many more sequels will show that to be an erroneous assumption by the top brass. 

What I love about Gigantis is the head of the fishing company who worries that if the monster goes on a rampage in his fishing waters it will affect his business. Bad for business? To somewhat paraphrase Butch Cassidy, "Are you crazy? The fight will probably kill ya."

GiGantis Ventoux is a Rhône blend of Grenache and Syrah which sells for somewhere around $40. It is not named after the faux Godzilla, but after Mount Ventoux, said to be the Giant of Provence. 

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Wednesday, May 22, 2024

Mother Vine Wine - From Croatia To Lake County

The Shannon Family of Wines in California's Lake County considers their approach to winemaking to be earth-first. They say they are committed to creating environmentally responsible wines that knock your socks off. I was given a sample of the 2023 Organic Mother Vine Cinsault Rosé for review, and where the hell are my socks?

The Mother vine originated in Croatia in 1870 and was brought to Lake County by the Ogulin family. The Shannons say this vine has thrived for 150 years on their Home Ranch, alongside a small vineyard, a hand-dug well, a livestock barn, and a quaint winery, all built by the Ogulins.

Proprietor Clay Shannon says they collaborated with Guillaume Nursery to propagate buds and create additional Cinsault vines. He calls their Cinsault based Rosé "a testament to the pioneering Lake County winemakers."

This wine is only made in years when the season is right for it," adds Joy Merrilees, VP of Production and Winemaking. "We use the saigneé method of gently bleeding the juice off the crushed grape must. The short skin contact time gives flavor and texture to the fruit and acidity that is naturally in the grape. A very cool fermentation brings out floral notes with a delicate fruit back bone."

This rosé comes in a distinctively tall, angular bottle. Winemaker Carolina Vargas reveals that the wine was made using grapes from High Valley appellations. She says Cinsault grapes from a one-acre plot were abetted by some Grenache to enhance the midpalate. Grenache actually plays the lead role here, making up 62% of the wine, while the Cinsault grapes account for 38% of the juice. The pink wine was vinified in stainless steel, carries alcohol at 13.5% abv and it retails for $38.

This wine has a very light onion skin color to it. The nose is gorgeous. Huge notes of cherry and strawberry are joined by a bit of Meyer lemon and a jasmine floral component. The palate has all that fruit plus a streak of salinity that expresses the wine's minerality. The mouthfeel is full and lush, and yet the acidity is as zippy as it needs to be. Lovers of pink wine should definitely try to lay hands on a few bottles for the warmer months. Mine was delicious with my French potato salad with tarragon. 

Monday, May 20, 2024

Vermentino From The Heart Of Santa Barbara County

Rancho de Vega was established in 1853 in Santa Barbara County's Santa Ynez Valley. The estate now has a vineyard and a winery, and the Vega folks have hired Steve Clifton to head up their winemaking program. The wines he made under the Palmina brand are being absorbed under the Vega Vineyard and Farm banner.

The estate is on the property that used to be known as Mosby Winery, and Vega Vineyard is operating out of the little tasting room on the grounds. They are also serving lunch every day, dinner and brunch on the weekends. 

I have enjoyed Clifton's wines for years, and probably not often enough. I recently ran across the Palmina Vermentino 2021 at one of my local wine stores. It was made with grapes grown in the Los Olivos District in the Santa Ynez AVA of Santa Barbara County. Alcohol sits at 13.5% abv and it cost $17 at the cheese shop in Larchmont Village.

This wine has a light yellow-gold tint. The nose is a bit muted, but showy enough to offer some nice lemon, apricot and salinity notes. The salinity comes across clearly on the palate, and so does the lemon. Most noteworthy is the very fresh acidity. The ocean influence is strong here, and you should pair this wine with crustaceans. The citrus minerality hangs around for quite awhile after the sip.  

Friday, May 17, 2024

Hard Pass On The Pasta - I'll Take The Olive Oil

I recently had the opportunity to sample a very nice Italian wine, Frescobaldi Pomino Bianco. I loved it. Along with that, I was given a sample of a couple of Frescobaldi's other ventures. Their Tirrena pasta and the accompanying Laudemio Frescobaldi Extra Virgin Olive Oil receive a more mixed review.

The Tirrena pasta is cultivated from ancient wheat grown in the Tuscan terroir. The olive oil has a rich history which dates back to the Middle Ages. The folks at Tirrena sent along a recipe using both of those items. 


Tirrena Spaghetti with Laudemio Frescobaldi Oil, Pepper, and Parmesan (pairs with Pomino Bianco)

Tirrena Spaghetti
Laudemio Frescobaldi EVOO
Parmigiano Reggiano
Black Pepper

Boil water and add salt to taste
Add the Tirrena Spaghetti and boil for 11 minutes
Reserve 1 cup of pasta water 
Drain spaghetti and add back to a saucepan
Mix in Laudemio Frescobaldi EVOO and stir until creamy
Top with black pepper and Parmigiano Reggiano

Now for the bad news. The pasta was nothing to write home about, especially for my spousal culinary expert. She was quick and brief with her review. "I hate it," she said after the first mouthful. "It ruined your fantastic sauce!" She had the pasta with my famous tomato sauce (her recipe). I had mine as per the recipe above, and it paired wonderfully with the Pomino Bianco wine. I stirred in the Parmesan cheese along with some pepper. 

If you cook this pasta for 11 minutes, as prescribed, you will be eating crunchy spaghetti. I cooked it for 18 minutes and it was still rather al dente. The oil was delightful, however. 

Is there such a thing as simply virgin olive oil? Extra virgin seems to be all I could find in a semi-serious search. I ask in all seriousness, although the question probably points out a deficiency in my kitchen knowledge. 

Wednesday, May 15, 2024

Sake Made In New York

Dassai Blue Sake is produced and bottled by Dassai USA in Hyde Park New York.  Dassai takes their name from a Japanese proverb, which translates to "Although blue dye comes from the indigo plant, it is bluer than indigo." In other words, the child outshines the parent. 

The Junmai Daiginjo style of sake - rice wine - is the pinnacle of the craft, the best of the best. Dassai Blue Type 23 is made from Yamada Nishiki rice, a short-grained variety that is popular with sake makers. Dassai uses the 23% method of polishing the grain, meaning 77% of the rice's outer shell is removed. This facilitates the water absorption for which the variety is known.

Dassai is also introducing Dassai Blue Type 35, using 35% milling. Type 35 is also made with Yamada Nishiki rice, but cultivated in the U.S. it's a collaboration with Isbell Farms, a sustainable, family-owned rice farm located in Central Arkansas. It should run about $50 a bottle.

The Type 23 craft sake is bottled under pressure, so be careful when opening the unique foil cap. The cork stopper blew right off when I tore away the metal wrapper. Alcohol sits comfortably at 14% abv and it retails for around $70 for the full 750ml bottle. Quite a few sources offer the 375ml bottle for much less.

This sake is virtually clear in the glass. The nose gives a floral aspect with herbal notes and lychee. The palate has a refreshing acidity and a delightful flavor rooted in minerals and salinity. The mouthfeel is clean and full, while the finish is pleasant and lengthy. Pair with sushi, without a doubt. 

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Monday, May 13, 2024

French Rosé That's Easy On The Wallet

Here is a bargain rosé from the Perrin family. They have been making wine in the south of France for more than a century. They adorn the back label of their La Ferme Julien with a quote attributed to Leonardo da Vinci: "Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication." Is it really so simple? Stay away from chemical fertilizers, use natural nutrients in the soil to bring the vines to maturity, adopt a laissez-faire attitude in the cellar. Not so difficult, I suppose.

La Ferme Julien is a blend of Syrah, Grenache and Cinsault grapes, it carries alcohol at a mere 12.5% abv and I bought mine at Trader Joe's for about $7. I seem to remember the 2022 vintage was around $10, so I got quite a deal on the 2023.

This wine has a soft, light, onion skin pink hue. The nose is fresh and fruity. There is a bushel basket of strawberries in the aroma package, along with citrus minerality and that wonderful smell of rain on a hot sidewalk. The palate is dominated by the acidity, which is quite lively. Ripe red fruit is there, of course, as is a healthy dose of lemon and tangerine. The wine finishes long and the acidity keeps on working after the sip. 

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Friday, May 10, 2024

Blood Of The Vines - Wacky Westerns

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 pair wines with a trio of slightly bent westerns. No deadeye, just wine. 

It's not about wine, but that won't stop us from pairing a wine with 1965's The Hallelujah Trail just a few short paragraphs from now. It's a comedy and a western, all dressed up like a documentary. As one scribe put it back in the day, "all dressed up and nowhere to go." That's how it is with a joke that takes almost three hours to play out.

The story concerns a wagon load of whiskey which is bound for Denver so the winter won't be so dry. There are a number of individuals who hope to stand in the way of that delivery, and that's where the comedy comes in. To me, Burt Lancaster and Lee Remick don't seem to lean in the direction of laughs. Jim Hutton and Pamela Tiffin strike me as better equipped to handle some whiskey wagon humor. 

As for the rest of the cast, my god, it's like a meeting of Character Actors Anonymous. Donald Pleasence, Brian Keith, Martin Landau, Helen Kleeb, Dub Taylor, Whit Bissell. There couldn't have been any other movies being made while this one was shooting. Everyone was here. 

Canadian winery Hidden Chapel makes a Viognier called Hallelujah, which is grown and made in British Columbia, in the south Okanagan Valley. It runs just under $30 a bottle. 

Support Your Local Gunfighter was 1971's answer to Support Your Local Sheriff!, which hit the screens a couple of years earlier. It stars James Garner, who lifted the comic western to an art form and carried it into more modern themes, like a detective who lives in a trailer on the Malibu beach and drives a hot car. 

Suzanne Pleshette is in the movie as Garner's love interest, while a whole host of character actors populate the cast list. Let's see, there's Harry Morgan, Jack Elam, Joan Blondell, Ellen Corby, (stop me if I'm going too fast), Dub Taylor (again) and even an uncredited Chuck Connors appearance. 

Garner plays a devil-may-care old-West gambler. Go figure how that ever popped into anyone's head. Does the name Maverick ring any bells? In this scenario, he’s on a train with a woman to whom he's supposed to be getting hitched. Cooling on the idea, he bails out of the relationship in Whatever This Town is Where I Am Right Now.

He decides to stick around, and for some reason he takes on the identity of a well-known gunslinger. Of course, said gunman comes to town and it's western farce comedy time. The film gets a bit of a bad rap as being a throwaway, cookie-cutter comedy. It does seem, however, that the more time passes the better the movie looks. 

You probably can't find any of the wine called Chateau Jimbeaux that came from James Garner's Santa Ynez Valley vineyard. He sold the estate about a quarter of a century ago. You could cast an eye towards Australia's Barossa Valley, home to Rockford Wines. No beach, no hot car, and you have to email them to order.

After more than 30 years away from the big screen, The Lone Ranger rode back into celluloid in 2013. Armie Hammer plays the masked man and Johnny Depp is Tonto, who narrates the story as an old man. Speaking of the mask, how is that supposed to hide anyone's identity? I've seen ballroom masks on sticks that served that purpose better. I've always thought he should have had a luchador mask. Nobody will recognize you in one of those. And, considering some of the allegations that have been made against Hammer by women, perhaps a mask is not a bad idea for him. 

Anyway, Tonto's tale involves the expected silver bullet as well as a mountain full of silver ore, which Tonto trades away for a pocket watch. Another bad deal for the Native Americans. Tonto had better watch his back. He gives a silver bullet to the boy who has been listening to his story. I'm sure there must be some law against giving a kid ammunition, silver or not.

California winemaker Randall Grahm was once known as The Rhône Ranger, back when Cali wine made from Rhône grapes was considered a pretty mavericky thing to do. I tend to like the Bonny Doon Vineyards Picpoul, and Le Cigare Volant is a longtime favorite of mine. 

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Wednesday, May 8, 2024

A Portuguese Surprise

The Casa Ermelinda Freitas winery was founded in 1920 in the southern reaches of Portugal. Today's owner, Leonor Freitas, keeps the wine flowing so that we may enjoy the fruits of her labor. 

The 2021 Vinha da Fonte Reserva is made from 25% Cabernet Sauvignon grapes, 25% Castelão, 20% Syrah, 20% Touriga Nacional and 10% Alicante Bouschet. It was aged for a full year in French and American oak barrels. Alcohol hits 14.5% abv and I bought it for about $7 at Trader Joe's.

I have had Touriga Nacional wine before, and Alicante Bouschet, but this was my first fling with the Castelão variety. It is most prevalent on Portugal's southern coast, but is found all over the country to some degree. 

This wine is a very dark purple, almost inky. The nose is also dark, showing blackberry notes alongside savory tobacco, spice and earth, all in a very smokey framework. The palate of this interesting blend is nearly stunning. Tannins have a good grip, but the blue fruit flavors are amazing and the acidity leaves the sipper salivating. It seems bizarre to me that this wine cost less than $10. It drinks like it should cost much more. 

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Monday, May 6, 2024

Don't Call This Chardonnay Cheap - Call It Affordable

Grocery chain Trader Joe's is a place you learn to love very quickly. Nice prices on things like wine, beer, cheese and nuts are fine, but the fact that the product is of high quality is a real bonus.

TJ's carries wines from a variety of producers, but the 2023 Trader Joe's Coastal Chardonnay is reportedly made by Castoro Cellars in the Paso Robles town of Templeton. Central Coast grapes went into the private label wine, which is unoaked. Alcohol is reasonable at 13$ abv and it sells at Trader Joe's for a bit less than $7. 

This wine has more of a yellow tint than I would expect from an unoaked Chardonnay. The nose is clean, though. Brilliant aromas of flowers, pears, peaches and apples come through with nary a trace of wood aging. The palate is rich and full, with fruit flavors dominating. Acidity is fresh and zippy, and nearly razor sharp. The fruit lasts on the finish and the wine is a perfect match for seafood, white sauce pasta or chicken.

Friday, May 3, 2024

Blood Of The Vines - A Bounty On Larry K

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 pair wines with three different takes on the Mutiny on the Bounty story. Each of the trailers has commentary from Larry Karaszewski, who co-wrote Ed Wood, The People vs. Larry Flynt and Dolemite is My Name, three films bound to appear on many "favorites" lists. 

The version of Mutiny on the Bounty from 1962 stars Trevor Howard as Captain Bligh and Marlon Brando as Fletcher Christian. The whole mutiny thing transpires after Christian faces off against Bligh for his brutal treatment of the crew. Christian says "You can’t do that," and Bligh says "Yes, I can, because I’m the captain. Captains are immune from prosecution." Remind you of anyone? I suppose Fletcher Christian was the District Attorney on board the Bounty.

The '62 Mutiny, which sounds rather like a model from the Ford line, is the second telling of this tale on the big screen. We'll get to the 1935 original in a moment. The mission for the HMS Bounty was to bring fruit trees from Tahiti to Jamaica, which makes it sound like a vacation is coming. Before the sails have a good chance to unfurl, some cheese goes missing. It was strawberries in The Caine Mutiny. All the good mutinies started with some missing food, apparently. 

The movie took forever to film, but it was Tahiti, so who cared? Well, MGM for one. The budget was exceeded by about ten million dollars, so there was that. And that was back when ten million dollars was a lot of money. Brando liked his time with the Tahitian people. He liked it so much he took one of them home with him. His marriage to Tarita lasted ten years, which is not bad by Hollywood standards. By Tahitian standards, I don't know. 

It is worth noting that a bottle of wine said to have been left aboard the Bounty by Bligh sold recently at auction for about $2,700. That's a bit steep for my taste, so let's pair Howard and Brando with a sparkling wine called Stranger Than Paradise, made from Pinot Noir and Gamay Noir. What's that? It's sold out? Look, I fell in love with Hammerling Wines and their sparkling fascination, so find another one on their site and lift a toast to the '62 Mutiny. 

1984's The Bounty starred Anthony Hopkins and Mel Gibson as Bligh and Christian. It is regarded as more historically accurate than the two which came before it, which wasn't that hard to pull off. It was also fairly well received by the critics of the day, which was a bit trickier. The Bounty was released about a quarter century before Gibson's downfall and seven years before Hopkins made everyone hate fava beans and Chianti. 

The ship that was built to be the Bounty cost millions of dollars, but the movie still sailed in under budget, quite an accomplishment for a film set on water. It was no Titanic, of course. However, even though Titanic cost nearly 300 million to make, it raked in about five times that amount. That’s more wet dollar bills than you'd ever find on the bar during happy hour down at the neighborhood tiki lounge. 

Yeah, not going with a Chianti pairing. In fact, both Hopkins and Gibson say they are sober, and have been for years. That means more for us. Bloom & Bounty, in Paso Robles' El Pomar district, makes a lovely Arneis wine. You may find the Italian grape as exotic as the Bounty's crew found Tahiti.

The 1935 Mutiny on the Bounty starred Charles Laughton and Clark Gable as the captain and the lieutenant. Of course, they were both lieutenants but Laughton got top billing. There were plenty of opportunities for historians to quibble, like shouldn't they have said "left-tenant?" The public ate it all up with a fork and spoon, though, and the scribes seemed unusually satisfied with the picture, too. 

Look for James Cagney as a background actor. He was reportedly yachting near the shooting of a scene off Catalina Island when he pulled up starboard and joked to director Frank Lloyd that he could use some work. If you squint really hard, you can also see David Niven and Dick Haymes in the background of some shots, although it seems they didn't get their extra jobs while piloting a yacht nearby. 

While sailing the seas looking for extra work, you might want a libation from Sailor Vineyard of Port Townsend, Washington. What a delightful oddity! They make wine from the French hybrid grape Marechal Foch. That is probably more exotic than the Arneis, but just as tasty.

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Wednesday, May 1, 2024

Kosher Cab From Italy

People who are looking for kosher wines should look into the lines offered by the Royal Wine Corporation. They import wines to the U.S. from all over the world and produce wines at their winery in Southern California. They have been in business for 175 years, dating back eight generations to their beginning in Europe. Their wines are top quality, as I have found through tasting a number of their bottlings through the years.

The Lovatelli line sources grapes from up and down Italy’s iconic wine regions. There's a new Primitivo from Salento and a Barbera d'Asti in addition to this fine Nebbiolo from Piedmont's Monferrato D.O.C. They also make two vermouths. Their wines are kosher for Passover and are mevushal. The 2022  Lovatelli Monferrato D.O.C. Nebbiolo has alcohol at 13% abv and a retail price of $25.

This wine is medium dark in the glass. Its nose has notes of blue and red berries joined by an earthy sense of tar, cigars and cardamom. The wine actually strikes me more like a Pinot Noir than a Nebbiolo, with a palate that shows slight hints of tea and coffee. The tannins are firm and the wine is quite enjoyable, if not completely correct varietally.