The Winemakers’ Cooking Companion cookbook is now being represented by an aspiring young literary agent (also with a background in financial consulting) who is based in Lugano, Switzerland. She has a growing web of international connections and ample enthusiasm. We’ll introduce Elena more fully in a few weeks.
My latest Forbes posts include pieces about biodynamic wines, cannéle pastries, Roman wine merchants, wine bars at LAX airport, and the ‘lost’ grape of Bordeaux: Carménère. I was also recently asked to write a review for London’s Sunday/Daily Telegraph newspaper about a five-star hotel in Bordeaux city. Their wine list is good, but it’s worth exploring city wine bars for even more diversity.
After asking friends to recommend wine movies, the input included surprises. For example, Andrew Carr of Kansas City recommended Star Wars.
We’ll get back to that one later.
More traditional wine related movies include romance or suspense and often both.
Bottle Shock was recommended by Californians Lynne Barry and Diane Sanders-Rehberger. This is actually the only movie I’ve seen 13 times. It is based on a renowned wine tasting that took place in 1976 which brought California’s wines to the attention of the world, and is set in both Paris and Napa Valley, California. (Friend Tiffany Tedesco Baumann informed me that the ‘Parisian’ scenes were actually filmed on the main square of Sonoma city in California.)
The movie A Good Year was recommended by Stephen Barrante of Connecticut and New York, as well as Tiffany Tedesco Baumann from Sonoma, Lisa Tyreman from London (and sometimes Palo Alto; she has an intriguing blog), as well as wine merchant Stephanie Niblock Cohen of vinously renowned Glenview, Illinois.
In the movie, financially motivated but fiscally dodgy London banker (Russell Crowe) inherits a vineyard in Provence, France – and with it comes a coyly attractive young American relative, encounters with an eye-catching French waitress, and a mystery wine that may be either stellar or plonk.
Back in the U.S., the cult classic Sideways (recommended by Kerry Harker of Laguna Beach, California and Stephanie Niblock Cohen) actually reduced the sales of Merlot wine in the U.S. for years. It also introduced many Americans to the finesse of Pinot Noir, and alerted the world that south of Napa Valley and north of Los Angeles spreads the magical Central Coast wine country with excellent quality wines at decent prices (as well, apparently, as heartache and romance associated with road trips).
Back in France, a recently released movie I’ve not not had the pleasure to see yet (though I wrote about it before) is titled Premier Crus. It is based in Burgundy and revolves around what appears to be a rough harvest and family travails. The movie is subtitled in English.
The Secret of Santa Vittoria was recommended by Peter Ratray from Sussex in the U.K. I’ve not yet seen this (though did read the fictional book a few years ago). Free and full editions of the movie are available on YouTube. Made in 1969 and starring Anthony Quinn and directed by Stanley Kramer (of 2001: A Space Odyssey fame), it’s about German occupation of an Italian village during the Second World War, and the hiding of precious wines.
A recommendation from Martin Robinson from London, as well as Kamala Balachandran Wright in the U.S., is for The Year of The Comet. This appears to be about a precious wine bottle hidden in a castle on Scotland’s Isle of Skye that must be transported to London by a beer loving Texan and his new girlfriend. Scenes involve thieving thugs, helicopter chases and a cliffhanger or two.
Kelly McGrath Quevedo of southern California suggested watching Mondovino. This documentary regards the impact and controversy associated with Robert Mondavi’s winemaking style and the changing of wine production techniques throughout the world.
Another documentary (released this year) is the second in a series about sommeliers, titled Somme: Into the Bottle. It is better than the first in the series. The variety of people interviewed helps keep the narrative grounded.
Diane Sanders-Rehberger also recommended A Walk in the Clouds, a 1995 movie about a young lady returning to Napa Valley with a few surprises for the family.
Back to Star Wars…
The original bar scene in the first episode (“a wretched hive of scum and villainy,” according to Obi-Wan Kenobi) is memorable, but the only mention I found of wine was from books associated with the series, not the movies themselves. ‘Wookieepedia’ informed me that Hans Solo kept the odd bottle of Corellian wine aboard the Millennium Falcon, and apparently Princess Leia once refused his inebriated advances by splashing this wine in his face.
The documentation is clear: the association of romance and wine historically stretches back a long time to a far, far away galaxy.
Thanks for tuning in. We’ll be back again with some more recipes and wine news later this month.