Thursday, 29 July 2010
Last Wednesday I went to the screening of new film/documentary about two guys who are trying to make wine in Arizona, aptly named Blood into Wine. The guys in question are Maynard James Keenan, owner of Merkin Vineyards and the front man of American rock groups Tool, A Perfect Circle and Pucifer, and Eric Glomski, owner and winemaker at the award winning Page Springs Cellars.
If anyone had mentioned Arizona to me before this, it would have conjured up images of the Grand Canyon, and a very hot and arid landscape. But this is not the case, in the town of Jerome in northern Arizona where these guys are based; they have to deal with every type of weather condition you could think of, from blazing sun to snow and frost. The result of this in the beginning meant they lost vast quantities of vines to frost damage, but their biggest problem has been trying to secure water, something which makes their attempts all the more remarkable.
The film showed clips of Maynard out in the Vineyard planting vines and talking about his passion and interest in trying to make the wine he loves; throughout the film it is littered with references to his music, and interviews from friends and journalists who have followed his career. You also got an insight into the very private man that is Maynard and the motivation to name his wines, such as the Caduceus Judith, which is named after his mother (the vineyard that the wine comes from is where he has scattered his mother’s ashes). You also got to see them at bottle signings, where Maynard (rightly) won’t sign any Tool merchandise, so you get a lot of his fans buying the wine to see him. Like you, it’s not what I would have expected of the average tool fan, but anything that gets more people interested in wine is great by me!
As for Eric, it was great to see his driving passion for making good wine that he likes, though not necessarily what the critics will like. He got a bit more technical, taking about his role in the winery and why they do certain things to help along the process and extract the flavours and colour from the grapes.
The film is littered with humour all the way through, more around Maynard than Eric; one of my favourite scenes is a spoof talk show interview with Maynard, ‘Focus on Interesting Things’. I’m not a film critic and I’m certainly not going to try and be one, but there were definitely several films in one here. The main two revolved around Maynard, rock front man and beginner winemaker, and the other around Eric, the winemaker, and in my opinion, they worked really well together.
Blood into Wine to me comes over as very much trying to appeal to the masses, while not trying to be too technical or alienate Maynard’s fans. There were several odd additions to the film though, the first being the tasting with James Suckling, the former senior editor at The Wine Spectator. Unless you have an interest in wine you’d have no idea who he is, and he contradicted several points made during the film. The other is the tasting with Steve Heimoff, where they try to see if he can tell the difference between their wines and those from California (his area of expertise), and then not tell you which he thought were what.
However, despite those few minor grumbles, the film/documentary was very entertaining and kept my interest the whole way through. Definitely worth going to see when it gets released in September over here if you’ve got an interest in the industry.
Thursday, 15 July 2010
My girlfriend asked me to make a lasagne for her the other week as a friend from work was coming for dinner, being the good boyfriend that I am of course I agreed. While checking what I needed for the lasagne I asked who was coming, as said her name a sense of dread came over me, she’s Italian and I’m cooking lasagne!
I needed to pull out all the stops for this, so I went down the shop and bought all the best quality ingredients I needed and raided my wine rack for what I could find. Fortunately for me I had a bottle of Don Tommaso Chianti Classico 2006, which couldn’t have been any better.
On opening I obviously needed to taste the wine to check that it was ok for what I was cooking. On pouring, it had a beautifully opaque ruby colour, with wonderfully pronounced aromas of blackberries and plums and a touch of smokiness coming through. Now to taste, you got all those flavours of the fruit and the smokiness which had come from the 18 months of oak ageing it had received, but you also still got these very robust tannins which you almost had to chew your way through.
There was a lot to this wine, and you could see the complexity in flavours and what it was going to become, which was its problem, it needed several more years of ageing before it would be really ready to enjoy fully.
Would I recommend this wine, yes I would, but probably worth buying a few bottles and putting them away for several years to enjoy them fully, but if you’d want to drink it now, serve it with something that would be able to stand up to it such as a roast or a steak.