This week’s “Wine & Film, a Perfect Pairing” podcast on reVolver Podcasts paired two new films with two incredible wines. We shared our pairing of Easton Estate Zinfandel from the Sierra Foothills with “The Magnificent Seven” in our last post.
And now, part two of our podcast we paired Eddie Murphy’s new film, “Mr. Church,” with the lovely and elegant wines made by Mia Klein, particularly her Selene Wines from Napa Valley. A little more on both below.
The Film: “Mr. Church”
It’s been four years since Eddie Murphy has appeared on the big screen and, “Mr. Church,” marks a quiet return, playing a personal chef to a single mother with cancer and her strong-willed ten year old daughter.
Irish actress Natascha McElhone (Ronin, Solaris) plays the sickly mom but the film centers mostly around the relationship of the mysterious cook and the daughter as she grows up, played-well by Britt Robertson (Mothers Day, White Rabbit).
Their meaningful journey is based on the real life relationship between screenwriter, Susan McMartin, and her long term relationship with a generous man who became her father figure and best friend during the years of childhood into adulthood. She has fictionalized the time line and some events, but the relationship is there and not once is race ever mentioned as a sub plot or backdrop.
Eddie Murphy portrays a comfortable quiet dignity as Mr. Church, even though the film suffers from it’s own earnestness and often plays like a movie of the week. It’s the type of part that will serve the comedy actor well in later films if he decides to go more in this direction. He holds the film together as both a listener and calming presence in the middle of chaos, and the overall effect is endearing.
“Mr. Church” is directed by one of the best, Australian Bruce Beresford (Driving Miss Daisy, Tender Mercies, Crimes Of The Heart) all much more southern in nature than this west coast story. His predictable movie never rises to the level it intended to reach, and often feels like paint by numbers. An uneven portrait of a rich significant life and a movie that begs for a bit of magic.
The Wine: Selene from Winemaker Mia Klein
Eddie Murphy plays a chef in this talkie tale that isn’t really about a chef. So, from a winemaker who started her career as a chef, but then took a different turn, much like “Mr. Church,” this week we pair the film with the beautiful, elegant and elevated wines of Napa Valley’s Mia Klein.
Klein started her career working as a chef before following her passions in wine. Now one of the most beloved & celebrated winemakers in Napa Valley and proprietress of her “Selene Wines” , her path in the industry began in the kitchen of San Francisco working on the line as a chef. She then went on to the Enology program at UC Davis, attending with classmates like Pam Starr and Ceila Welch, however, her time working in kitchens still gives her the unique ability to craft wines that are both varietally correct, refined, elegant and rich, while being balanced, approachable and downright delicious when paired with food.
After UC Davis, Klein started at Chappellet and Corison, before working hand in hand with one of her greatest mentors, Tony Soter (now of Soter Wines in Oregon) consultant to many wineries in Napa and the original founder of Etude. In 1990, Klein became Soter’s assistant, working alongside him at many of the wineries her consulted for.
I love that Klein credits Soter, another one of our favorites especially for his incredible Willamette Valley wines, for teaching her much of what has helped her become one of the most sought after consulting winemakers in Napa. She says he taught her that the vineyards are the key, and at the end of the day, great terroir, including the soil, climate, slope and exposure must be properly matched to the grapes you’re growing, the wine you’re making. And at the end of the day, let the vineyard do the talking. Great wine is made in the vineyard not the winery.
Today, Klein has consulted for some of the finest properties in Napa, including Spottswoode, Viader, Dalle Valle, Arajuo, Bressler, Palmaz and many more, but her own Selene wines shine highlighting the delicate touch that Klein brings to each of her wines. Her Selene Chessler Cabernet Franc blend is a particular favorite, as I am such a single variety Cabernet Franc fan. Named after her mother, Eileen Chessler, and with the label depicting her mother water-skiing in the 1940’s, with wine is fresh and vibrant layered with floral notes, steely graphite, dark chocolate, ripe blue and black fruit and spice. Special wines from an incredibly talented winemaker.