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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