I love food and I love food movies so it’s only natural that my gourmet minded, sommelier wife and I would indulge ourselves in a few minutes of our favorite food movies paired with some of her favorite wines. It’s a natural event in our home, to cook eat watch and drink.
These are some of the best.
Take a listen to the show by following the link here, and click “Episode 18,” or listen on iTunes, Spotify or Google Play Music.
The Film: Big Night
It doesn’t get any better than “Big Night,” (1996) a celebration of authentic Italian food, Louis Prima music, tumultuous brothers, a long table dinner, and a drum-like baked pasta dish called a “Timpano.” Co-written and directed by Stanley Tucci it features beautiful moments by Isabella Rossellini, Minnie Driver, and the wonderful Alyson Janney as the flower shop girl.
The Wine: Antinori
A great Italian food celebration deserves to pay homage to one of the oldest, finest and most celebrated families in italy, the Antinori family. With 630 years of winemaking experience, dating back to 1383, the Antinoris have been making wine in Tuscany and Umbria for 26 generations. Today run by Marquis Piero Antinori and his three daughters, Albiera, Allegra, and Alessia. Throughout the much storied past, the family has managed this work with a fundamental respect for tradition and the territory in which they have operated. Today, their wines are among the most recognized, respected and highly rated of Italy.
The cornerstone of the family’s philosophy has been that quality is a long-term and ongoing commitment, and the Antinori family’s centuries of successful wine production is due in no small part to this commitment.
In addition to their famed Tiganello, they own Guado al Tasso, Santa Christina, Badia A Passignano and 6 more Italian wineries, as well as Napa Valley’s Antica high atop Atlas Peak, along with Col Solare on Red Mountain in Washington and Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars in Napa with Ste. Michelle Wine Estates. History, character, tradition, and really, really good wine.
Film: “Eat Drink Man Woman”
Oscar winning director, Ang Lee, first caught my eye with a wonderful foreign language film called, “Eat Drink Man Woman,” (1994) and it remains a breath of culinary fresh air. A father requires his daughters to attend dinner in his home every Sunday where he cooks a magnificent feast. The family dynamics are complicated and the food, prepared with love, is a wonder to behold. I have always loved this film.
The Wine: Yao Ming Family Wines
Started in 2011 after NBA star, Yao Ming, retired from basketball and settled on wine, among other things as his new adventure, purchasing his Napa Valley property. He isn’t just making wine these days though, with a heart to give back he created the Yao Ming Foundation in 2008 in response to the devastating earthquake in Sichuan Province, China. The foundation’s long-term mission is to provide educational opportunities for children in the United States and China. Yao also serves as a global ambassador for the Special Olympics and Wildaid., joining with Sir Richard Branson and Wildaid in an effort to save sharks from extinction, making a global appeal to ban shark fin soup. He also just recently enrolled as undergraduate student at Shanghai Jiao Tong University.
With winemaker Tom Hinde at the head of Yao Ming Wines the focus is on an artisan style of winemaking, earning 97 points for the 2009 Yao Ming Family Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon 95 points for the 2009 Yao Ming Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon. The wine is a classic, big Napa Cab from Yountville & St. Helena. Aromas are layered with black berry and flavors of cherry, cassis and plum.
The Film: “Like Water For Chocolate”
When “Like Water For Chocolate” (1992) arrived in theaters it quickly became the highest grossing Spanish-language film ever released in the United States at the time. Created in the style of “magical realism,” it’s the story of love, tragedy and tears (literally) as Tita weeps buckets into a wedding cake batter resulting in heartache, sickness, and chaos. Director Alphonso Arau directs from a novel and screenplay by his then wife, Laura Esquivel, and you might remember Arau, he played the bad guy, El Guapo in “The Three Amigos.” Food has never taken such tragic turns as in, “Like Water For Chocolate.”
Wine: Mi Sueno
Immigrant Rolando Herrara came to Napa from his native Mexico at the age of eight, settling in Napa Valley. His parents would eventually decide to return to Mexico when he was 15, but he knew felt a connection with the land, the soil, and the openness and feeling of freedom would make him return to the US. When he did, is first job was a bus boy at Auberge and from there grew from celler rat to successful winemaker and consultant, working as winemaker at Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars, Vine Cliff and with celebrated winemaker Paul Hobbs in his consultancy. Rolando founded the winery, “Mi Sueño,” Spanish for “My Dream.” with his wife Lorena. Together, the two built their dream winery with love, passion, and a deep understanding of the art and the science of growing exceptional grapes and crafting wines rich in character and elegance.
For Rolando and Lorena, wine is more than a healthy drink to be enjoyed with meals. For them, wine is family. It’s sharing. Its friends, old and new, and it’s the joy of two families and two cultures melded happily together.
Their top tier Herrera wines, very small production and each named after one of their children, are only made in the very best years and reflect the personalities of each of their 6 children. All of the wines are beautiful, but one of the most unique is the Herrera “Valeria” Petit Verdot is most often used in blends, but Rolando created this wine on its own. The 2012 Herrera Selección Valeria has a concentrated violet, almost black color, with beautiful aromas of Gardenias, dried cherries, fig, forest floor and pumpkin seeds. Its velvety texture, rich gripping tannins and round mid-palate combines to display flavors of boysenberries, cranberries, hibiscus, caramel, and dark chocolate. As 100% Petit Verdot you really get a sense of the character of this varietal.
The Film: “Chef”
“Chef” (2014) is a much better film than expected, written, directed by and starring Jon Faverau as a tumultuous Chef fired for his temper and re-invented as food truck vendor. A humbled man who reaches out to his troubled son and becomes more than just a good father, but a master of making the perfect grilled cheese.
The Wine: Miner Wild Yeast Chardonnay
A perfectly grilled, grilled cheese sandwich with Miner Wild Yeast Chardonnay, potentially the best pairing in the world as both are rich, creamy and dreamy. The textured, stone fruit and melon filled wine isn’t overwhelming though, as bright acidity helps cut through the richness of the cheesy delight. A Napa Valley favorite of ours, Miner was started by Dave Miner, who left corporate America to help his uncle with his Oakville Ranch Vineyards and Winery in 1993, and in 1994 met his love, his late wife, Emily. The two began Miner Family Wines in 1996 with the goal to create premium Napa Valley wines from their Oakville fruit, bringing in Gary Brookman as winemaker. In 2004 they released their inaugural 2001 Oracle Bordeaux style red blend. Big, bold and incredible, a wine that we will drink any day we possibly can with elegance and balance, especially in comparison to many more expensive wines in the region. Their native ferment Wild Yeast Chardonnay is full-bodied and lush, yet also bright and fresh, with flavors of ripe pear, honeydew melon and hazelnut. The grapes are fermented using only indigenous or “wild” yeast cultures found on the skins of the grapes themselves, in the vineyards and within the walls of our winery.
The Film: “Jiro Dreams Of Sushi”
“Jiro Dreams of Sushi,” (2011) celebrates the discipline of one man doing one job brilliantly his entire life. In this case, an 85 year old sushi chef with a 10 seat three star Michelin restaurant in a Tokyo subway station. The food is world class but the relationship between the sushi master, his sons, and his patrons is the centerpiece of this Oscar level documentary.
The Pairing: Riesling, but we have talked extensively about Riesling on a previous show, so will pair a Torrontes from Argentina.
I love how Torrontes will trick the mind a bit as the floral, ripe fruit and honey aromas will make your mind thing you are about to drink a sweeter wine, yet the bright pop of acidity on the first taste makes this a very dry, very clean and fresh wine with great, great acidity.
There are not so good ones, but there are also great ones, like from El Porvenir de Cafayate. Family owned and operated, located in the higher elevations of Cafayate, Salta. The family’s 80 hectares of vineyards are situated over 1750 above sea level, ensuring the aromatic white wine has incredible acidity to match the floral and fruit notes. Celebrated Napa Valley winemaker, Paul Hobbs, is consultant to the winery.