This week’s “Wine and Film, A Perfect Pairing” Podcast on reVolver Podcasts toasted the “Lone Star Le Mans” race at Austin’s Circle of the Americas. Gary and I had a chance to visit the racing event a few weeks ago as a guest of Zonin 1821, producers of Zonin Prosecco. And, wow, was it fun. A few thoughts from both my perspective, and Gary’s, are below. To listen to the show just follow the link here, and click “Episode 15.”
“Lone Star Le Mans:” Her Perspective
A few weeks ago Gary and I had a chance to visit Austin as a guest of the wine group Zonin 1821, best know for their approachable and delicious Prosecco sparkling wine, joining them for the “Lone Star Le Mans” event at the Circuit of the America’s track, with their award winning Ferrari Scuderia Corsa car.
They began their partnership with Ferrari just last year, joining them in sponsorship of their Ferrari Scuderia Corsa car. The impressive team, which just secured the GT-Daytona IMSA SportsCar Championship over this past weekend, led by Christina Nielsen (the youngest on the tour at only 25, and now the first female to ever win a major professional sports car championship in North America,) along with Italian Alessandro Balzan, drove to a 3rd place victory at the Lone Star Le Mans, impressing the enthusiastic crowd of onlookers, especially us.
Though car racing and wine may not seem to have much in common, this very Italian influenced sport has had a relationship with wine since its beginnings (as bubbly is always popped in celebration at the end of every race in the world.) For Zonin 1821 the partnership was somewhat of a no brainer, as they are known for elegance, style and celebration and Ferrari represents the epitome of Italian automotive elegance.
Since 1821 the Zonin family, seven generations of winemakers in Northern Italy, has owned and operated Casa vinicola Zonin. With the motto to “enjoy the simple moments in life” the family celebrates great wine, but always around great food, friends and atmosphere.
The Zonin family’s portfolio includes nine wineries located in the most renowned wine regions in Italy. Every wine made by the Zonin Family is inspired by the philosophy of preserving the local winemaking traditions, land and culture of their respective regions. The wines tell the story of the terroir, celebrating those that came before while openly embracing what is to come. Tradition with modern technology, history with a look to the future.
The Zonin family is focused on every aspect of the wine production, from the vine to the glass, be carried out at the place of origin. The family also takes strides in preserving not only the beauty and pristine nature of the landscape, but also the environment for future generations. Today, the company has over 5000 acres of land under vine in Italy, making it one of the largest family owned wine companies in the country.
Zonin is perhaps best known though for their effervescent, vibrant and delicious Prosecco. Though their classic Zonin Cuvee is the most widely available, a few years ago they introduced a new line of sparklers that take the traditional Prosecco from the Glera variety, and blend in a touch of either Pinot Bianco, Pinot Grigio or Pinot Noir for three different wines that each express both the character of the fruit as well as the land, Zonin Prosecco White, Grey and Black, named as a representation the color of the fruit when it is ripe on the vine.
Sipping these wines, while watching the whirling cars, it is hard not to feel the adrenaline pumping. Visiting the pits during one of the few pit stops in the 2 hour and 40 minute race you see the work, dedication and passion of every person on the team. The same passion that goes into each bottle of wine produced by the family. Zonin Prosecco is widely available throughout Dallas at Total Wine & More stores and Goody-Goody stores.
“Lone Star Le Mans:” His Perspective
It’s a powerful, enlightening experience watching your first professional Le Mans style road race, and witnessing the event on the spectacular “Circuit Of The America’s” track near Austin, Texas is particularly invigorating. “Lone Star Le Mans” has me hooked on Le Mans style racing, all the way from the intensity and speed, to the ground shaking power of the engines, to the drivers courage and finesse it takes to compete on an international scale.
Which got me to thinking about racing movies, and how film and television have difficulty in accurately portraying what is actually happening on the track and in the pits.
“Rush” (2013) directed by Ron Howard begins with a spectacular crash and follows through the 1976 Formula One motor racing season starring Chris Hemsworth and Daniel Bruhl. Howard’s movie tries again and again to get the camera as close to the speeds and action as possible but mostly looks like a video game rather than the real thing. It’s a good film, but never great, and as is true in all racing films, the personal drama often dominates the drama on the track.
Then there’s “Bobby Deerfield” (1977) starring Al Pacino, fresh off “The Godfather II” and “Dog Day Afternoon,” and a genuine movie star, playing a Formula One driver in love with a woman who is terminally ill, played by Marthe Keller.
An old fashioned tear jerker with only two well-made racing scenes directed by one of the best, Sidney Pollack (“Tootsie,” “Out Of Africa”). A three hankie melancholy film that you can barely call a racing movie.
Which brings me to “Grand Prix” (1966) starring James Garner as an American Grand Prix driver who crashes at Monaco and injures his British teammate. Wouldn’t you know it, one driver starts having an affair with another drivers wife and before anyone can cross the finish line it’s all a big personal mess.
“Grand Prix” was actually filmed in Super Panavision 70 and features close to a dozen real life racing legends including Graham Hill, Phil Hill, and Dan Gurney. Once again, the racing is consistently upstaged by a decadent lifestyle. That seems to be how racing movies work.
I can’t wait to get back to the track, and the real thing.