This week’s “Wine and Film, A Perfect Pairing” on reVolver Podcasts we toast the new “Magnificent 7” film starring Denzel Washington and a slew of rag-tag renegades in a fun remake of a remake. To pair, we travel to California’s Gold Rush land to pair a wine from vines grown not far from where gold was once found in the Sierra Foothills.
To listen to the podcast just follow the link here, and click “Episode 14.” We’re also available on iTunes, Spotify and Google Play Music. We’ll have a post up on our other feature of the week, “Mr. Church,” with Eddie Murphy, which we pair with a beautiful Cab from Napa Valley Winemaker, Mia Klein, up shortly. Cheers!
The Film: “The Magnificent 7”
“The Magnificent Seven” is star-powered, modern day entertainment filled with macho images and guns a blazing. A wild west shoot-em-up with a high body count and a serious inonic actor, Denzel Washington, on a mission as a bounty hunter to assemble human firepower and protect a small town from a land grabber, played with sweaty cruelty, by Peter Sarsgaard.
Denzel’s gathering of diverse vigilantes includes a Korean knife specialist, a Comanche bow & arrow artist, and a Mexican gunslinger. The group also includes some accomplished actors with a talkative Chris Pratt and a post combat stressed out Ethan Hawke. This is a popcorn movie, with little character development, and a screen load of ammunition.
“The Magnificent Seven” is directed with a “slick and quick” style by, Antoine Fuqua, he directed Denzel to an Oscar in “Training Day.” His movie plays like a “cliff notes” version of a classic rather than the real thing. It’s also highly entertaining, and when the good guys and bad guys face off, it’s a cinematic adrenalin rush.
“The Magnificent Seven” is rated an uneven PG-13 for violence and won’t win any awards for subtlety. It’s a good film but never great and what holds it all together is the rare and powerful image of Denzel Washington, elevating everything around him.
The Pairing: EASTON Estate Zinfandel
To pair with this remake, a wine from the land of historic gold mining. People have been growing grapes and making wine in the Sierra Foothills since the Gold Rush days. D’Agostini Winery (now Sobon Estate) was founded in 1856, near several early gold-mining boomtowns.
Many of the gold fortune seekers had European backgrounds and a taste for wine. They planted vineyards in the early and mid-1800’s, but when the gold petered out and the mines began closing, the wine industry and vineyards fell dormant.
The Sierra Foothills, in Amador and El Dorado Counties about 2 hours north of San Francisco, 1 hour outside of Sacramento, was basically a wide-open area, with prostitution, gambling and bootlegging until about 1959. Thankfully, in the early 1970’s, after the region became a designated AVA things began to change, with vintners and winemakers learning the best varieties in soils of decomposed granite, sandy-loam and volcanic debrise, ranging in elevation from 1000-3000 feet.
One of the best for the region is Winemaker Bill Easton, of Terre Rouge-Easton Winery and his Rhone style reds and Zinfandel wines. Located on the West Slope of the Sierra Nevada in Amador County’s Shenandoah Valley, the artisan winery was established in 1986 by winemaker Bill Easton and Jane O’Riordan. They make 30 different wines, most of them very small lots of 100-400 cases. 2010 EASTON Estate Zinfandel, Shenandoah Valley, from vines planted in the 1970’s, is filled with brambly blackberry fruit, big cedar, spice box aromas and flavors.
The region is still finding its way, but many wines, like Easton’s are delivering on both great flavor and overall affordability, with prices ranging from $20-$40, incredible for the quality of the wines that are available via their website.