Friday, June 14, 2024

Blood Of The Vines - Get 'Em Up!

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 films that may prompt you to applaud, with your hands up in the air. 

The phrase "Get ‘em up" has been used so often in movies that it should win a lifetime achievement award. It is direct, authoritative and succinct. And it is so much more convincing than Peter Lorre's nice guy approach from The Maltese Falcon. "You will please clasp your hands together at the back of your neck" simply doesn’t move me to "get 'em up."

Dillinger is the 1945 film that tells the story of John Dillinger's rise and fall. The story goes, he learned his craft in prison and got a gig as a gangster when he got out. Top that, Indeed. And while you're at it, have your AI team write up a resume for a gangster job. 

The movie shows us that Dillinger's first robbery netted him a little more than seven bucks, the same amount he had in his pocket when he was shot after attending a movie. If he had bought an extra popcorn, that fascinating plot point would have gone down the tubes. If he had gotten 'em up, he might have lived to learn more tricks in prison. 

The spelling is a little off, but the taste is right on target with Dehlinger Wines. Located in the Russian River Valley, you know they have a handle on Pinot Noir ($60) and Chardonnay ($40).

1954's Dragnet was directed by and starred the one and only Jack Webb. It was adapted from the radio series, not television, as the case featured in the script was deemed too violent for the small screen. Yes, kids, there was a time when all TVs were small.

Webb is a favorite of mine. He's just all cop. Even playing a swinging young guy in Sunset Boulevard he came off like a narc. The dialog in Dragnet, whether big-, small- or no- screen, always sounds like your junior high school coach telling you to cut your hair. When Webb orders you to "get 'em up," you’d better do just that or suffer one of his withering verbal takedowns. The Joe Friday comeback, "I'll bet your mother had a loud bark," is one of my treasured memories from the Webb file. And as far as the radio version, has foley ever been as obvious as those footsteps? 

The spelling is a little off, again, but Dragonette Cellars in bucolic Buellton has a $100 Pinot Noir that is worth tracking down and arresting. They also do Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Grenache and even a Santa Barbara County olive oil. They're all on the pricey side, but worth it. 

In the 1949 classic White Heat, James Cagney returns to gangster mode. He tried to move away from the tough guy roles, but his career faded a bit and he, uh, bit the bullet. This tough guy was really a mama's boy at heart, although a psychotic mama's boy. 

The trail of violence runs through a couple of prison sentences. After one of them, Cagney's character decides to get the band back together for some more robbing and killing and such. That was really all he knew how to do, even though he kept getting caught. His last opportunity to "get 'em up" goes by the wayside when he shoots the fuel tank on which he stands. Now, you can say that's a stupid move. But if you're a psycho gangster who wants to go out in a blaze of glory, that's probably your only move. "Made it, Ma! Top of the world!" 

A white heat wine could be mulled pinot grigio, if you have no Ripple in the house. But for a wine pairing that befits the top of the world claim, let’s look at Argentina's Bodega Fernando Dupont. His winery sits nearly 8,000 feet above sea level in the Andes, and it's in a valley. Oh, there's a tasting room there, too, and they say it has quite the view. The reds are blends of Malbec, Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah. 


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Wednesday, June 12, 2024

Art Of Earth Riesling

Riesling is said to be the critics' darling of the wine world, the sommelier's best friend. The Riesling grape gives us wines in a wide variety of styles, from sweet to dry. They are generally laden with minerals, which leads them to be very friendly with food. 

The 2022 Art of Earth Riesling is a Qualitätswein of the Rheinhessen, Germany's largest wine region. It was made from organic grapes and brings a very reasonable alcohol level, 11.5% abv and sells for a reasonable $12. It was imported by Mack and Schühle of Miami.

This wine is a pale green-yellow color in the glass. The nose is rich in minerals and shows Meyer lemon, green apple aromas and a lanolin scent that displays as a very faint petrol note. The palate brings those minerals to the forefront and adds lemon zest and a healthy acidity. Riesling offers a wide variety of styles, and this one is bone dry.  


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Monday, June 10, 2024

A Bottled Bellini

Not too many years ago I attended a wine festival in Beverly Hills. That day? It was a hot day that day in Beverly Hills. I trudged several blocks under the scorching summer sun and finally reached the venue. What do you think was the first thing I saw upon entering the cool, air conditioned building? A Bellini stand. Respite for the weary wine writer! I wiped the sweat from my brow, unfortunately, on my wine tasting note paper. No matter. "Would you like a Bellini, sir?" Well, yes. Yes I would. Thank you.

A Bellini is one of nature's wonders, a pause that refreshes. Health and fun, blended together. Fruit and booze. Bring it on.

Importers Mack & Schühle do a fine job with the wines they select, so how could they miss with a Bellini? Their Artigiano Peach Bellini is as refreshing and peachy as you would like. They also bring Strawberry and Mango Bellinis to the heat stricken masses. Alcohol is mercifully light, only 6% abv, and it costs less than $15 for the 750ml bottle. 

A Bellini should have peach puree and Prosecco, if it is made by the book. The Artigiano Peach Bellini was identified merely as white wine and fruit puree. The only specific I could glean from an online search was that the beverage was made in Spain. The grape, I'm guessing, is Airén, and I guess that only because it is the most widely planted grape variety in Spain.

This Bellini is fizzy enough to make a spew when you open the screw cap, so don't go overboard with their advice, "Shake it to wake it."  It is playful on the palate and tasty on the tongue. And if you serve it cold, it could make you think twice about reaching for that IPA.


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Friday, June 7, 2024

Blood Of The Vines - Brain Drain

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 concerning the one bodily organ that keeps us from being Trump supporters, the brain. 

Does drinking wine make us smarter, or does it just make us feel smarter? We have already seen how the resveratrol in wine means good things for our heart health, the battle against cancer and holding off Alzheimer's. Now, the National Institutes of Health have a report designed to scare the cocktail out of your hand. It says, "Alcohol interferes with the brain's communication pathways and can affect the way the brain looks and works." The way it looks? What do I care? The way it works? Hey, as long as I have enough juice to keep pumping out these articles on a weekly basis, make mine a Zinfandel. 

From 1957, a classic year for both cars and sci-fi, comes The Brain from Planet Arous. It's as big as a car, this brain, and about as scary as one. It's not scary, not even a little. In fact, this movie was a favorite for my friends back in college. When it was slated for an airing on Friday night's Fear Theater, we knew it was time to open a few and laugh out loud. The brains, there are two of them, are named Gor and Vol, if memory serves. Apparently brains on the Planet Arous favor one syllable names. Easier for a big brain to remember.

Domaine du Mortier offers a wine called Brain de Folie Chenin Blanc. In case you’re wondering, brain de folie is a French expression for hangover, that thing you'll have after a wine-soaked viewing of The Brain from Planet Arous

I failed to mention that the brains from Arous possess people. Well, one possesses a dog. Damn, now I've given it away. Here is another film featuring a brain that takes over. Donovan's Brain, from 1953, has a mad scientist type who is operating on a rich guy who was in a car crash. It looks like the guy isn’t going to pull through. "Hey, mind if I just take your brain?"

That was his first mistake. Never take a guy's brain unless you know how to use it. The brain from Mr. Donovan is a real troublemaker. You can't stop it, you can only hope to slow it down. But, actually, you can stop it. The film's climax owes something to Ben Franklin

Let's go to sunny southern Oregon for a wine to pair with Donovan's Brain. L. Donovan Wines has a Malbec that was grown in the Rogue Valley. Linda Donovan says it sports flavors of blackberry and chocolate. That sounds like perfect brain food to me.

I don't know about you, but all this talk of brains has me hungry. The Brain Eaters, from 1958, are parasites who eat brains. There, that was simple. They are carried about in glass containers, which get broken every now and then, darn the luck. These parasites are somehow aiming to create a happy, strife-free existence on earth. By eating our brains? I think I lost the thread on that concept. It would be a far happier, more strife-free existence if we ate their brains, I would imagine. Like they say in the land of the crawfish, suck de head, bite de tail.  By the way, that's one reason I let my honorary Cajun card lapse several decades ago. 

But as long as we're talking crustaceans, let's talk Albariño, a crisp white wine that is perfectly suited for pairing with bug-like sea creatures. Tangent has a fine Central Coast bottling for $17, but you can step up to their special Block 163 Albariño for $35. Enjoy with your favorite gray matter crudités. 


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Wednesday, June 5, 2024

Cool Wine, Cool Bottle

I will admit, I purchased this wine simply because of the bottle. Who can resist a bocksbeutel? However, I have learned that when used for Portuguese rosés it is called cantil. Whatever the name, it's a cool bottle. Mateus Rosé used to come packaged in it, and maybe it still does.

Roseta Rosé is from Portugal, although I have been able to find out little else about it. It gets written up all over the place, no doubt due to the fact that it's cheap and it's actually pretty good. The wine is imported by Plume Ridge in Claremont, California, is light in alcohol at just 11% abv and was selling for $5 at Trader Joe's when I bought it.

This wine has a light salmon tint to it and it pours up with a slight frizzante. The nose features ripe, red strawberries and cherries. There is a floral note in the background. On the palate, the red fruit emerges first, while a more delicate citrus flavor comes in afterward. There is a slightly carbonated sense to the mouthfeel, which is refreshing. It is not a terribly complex wine, but it is quite enjoyable and should be a mainstay through summer, particularly at the price. 


Monday, June 3, 2024

A Wine Bargain At Whole Foods

The 2022 Gran Conti Montepulciano d'Abruzzo  is one of those bargain wines that turns up nearly everywhere in online searches, but very little actual information seems to surface. I wrote about their Sangiovese last year, and I recently stumbled upon this wine from a different part of Italy.

The Gran Conti has a manageable alcohol level of 13% abv and a more than reasonable price, $8 at my local Whole Foods Market.

This wine is very dark colored. It has a nose that displays an abundance of black fruit - plums, blackberries - and savory notes of tobacco and earth. On the palate, there is the aforementioned dark fruit, with a healthy tannic grip and a lengthy finish. I had it with a cheeseburger and it was a good fit. I also used it to make short ribs, which worked well, too.