“Beauty & The Beast” and Wines of Loire & Alsace On This Week’s Podcast

This week’s “Wine and Film, A Perfect Pairing” Podcast on reVolver Podcasts celebrates the magical world of “Beauty & The Beast,” with a mix of wines from both the Loire Valley and Alsace, France. Charming, whimsical, joyful and quite beautiful, “Beauty & The Beast” delivers with a celebration of music, art, dance and everything you hope Disney can be. We loved it!

Listen to the show here, just click Episode 38, and be sure to subscribe through Spotify, iTunes, IHeartRadio or Google Play Music. We also toasted a great wine with the “better than dreadful,” as Gary likes to say, “Kong: Skull Island,” with a stellar Cabernet Franc wine from Napa, Covert. Enjoy the show!

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The Film: “Beauty & The Beast”

Disney’s original “Beauty & The Beast” was a huge animated hit back in 1991 nominated for 6 Academy awards, and winning two for Best Music Score and Best Song. The popular family film also made more than $400 million dollars at the box office world-wide.

Guess what? Disney’s new “live-action” version is just as good, and in some ways even better.

There is magic on screen in this elaborate, expensive version of “Beauty & The Beast” starring, Emma Watson, who is just right playing a bored bookworm who wants more out of life.

She gets what she wants when she rescues her father, played-well by Kevin Kline from a troubled beast who lives under a spell in a castle and is played with sad rage by, Dan Stevens, from Downton Abbey (Matthew Crawley).

The mysterious castle includes objects that desperately want Belle to fall in love with the Beast and break the spell. Emma Thompson, Ewan McGregor, Audra McDonald, Ian McKellen, and Stanley Tucci are all great in a movie that jumps off the screen with a sense of pure joy.

Gaston, the air-head bad guy played by Luke Evans, is a non-thinking narcissist, and his sidekick, LeFou, played by Josh Gad, is more silly than controversial. Director Bill Condon, who directed “Dreamgirls,” has created a stunning, beautiful, inclusive movie that is ultimately about a guy and a girl.

“Beauty And The Beast” is rated PG and it’s comforting to know that a classic story remains, well, classic and intact. Yes, there are two new songs and they fit seamlessly in a film that had a room full of cynical critics, including me, applauding at the end.

Run to the theater to see, “Beauty & The Beast,” and if you live near the Henagar Drive-In in Alabama, I suggest you drive the 16 miles to the Hollywood 10 Cinema in Scottsboro, AL. You’ll be over-joyed you did.

Loire Valley wines

The Wine: Wines of Alsace & Loire Valley Wines

I was so excited when watching the opening scene of “Beauty” as you see the townspeople dancing with their locally produced wares and products, including our favorite goat cheese, the small, round Crottin de Chavignol, the most famous goat cheese of France made in Loire Valley. And the Valençay, a pyramid-shaped goat cheese covered in ash, with the top cut off….supposedly because it reminded a defeated Napoleon, having returned from his disastrous campaigns in Egypt, of his losses and when stopping at the castle at Valençay cut off the top of the cheese so it wouldn’t remind him of the pyramids.  The Crottin and Valençay are only made in Loire, so, if the film is correct, the perfect pairing with “Beauty” should be a Loire Valley wine, specifically one of their mineral intense Sauvignon Blanc wines from Valençay or its surrounding villages.

Loire Valley goat cheese, Crottin de Chavignol & Valencay; photo by Hayley Cogill

Valençay is an AOC appellation created in 2004 which is best known for their Sauvignon Blanc whites, and red wines are made from Cot (the local name for Malbec), Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinot Noir and Gamay. This location means that it falls just outside the Touraine district, to the northwest, becoming a part of the Upper Loire valley wine region near the River Cher (eventually a tributary of the Loire River,) that flows through some of Valençay’s vineyards. Wines of Valençay can be a little tricky to find locally, so instead try a classic Loire Valley Sancerre or Pouilly Fume, also made from Sauvignon Blanc, highlighting the silex filled soils that give the regions whites so much earthiness, minerality and incredible smoky flint like qualities (the characteristic like when you would hit two pieces of flint together to create a spark.) This earthy smoky characteristic is key to the wine, and pairs well with the ash-covered Valençay cheese. I adore Domaine Hubert Brochard has been growing Sauvignon Blanc in Sancerre and Pouilly-Fumé since the 1500’s. Their estate vineyards include a mix of flint, limestone and clay soils, adding steely, instense minerality to their Brochard Sancerre. Vibrant, crisp and elegant.

However, if you research the village where “Beauty and The Beast” is said to have taken place, every indicator is that it is centered in Colmar, France, a tiny village in Alsace near the German/French border, and the “capital and center of the Alsatian wine route” However, the key cheeses made in Alsace include Munster, Tomme, and other cows milk cheese made in very large wheels. (I suppose it is harder to dance around with large wheels of cheese…which may be why the Crottin were chosen.)  If you take Colmar as our location, then Domaine Robert Karcher from the village of Colmar is your wine, specifically highly aromatic, wildflower and stone fruit filled Gewurztraminer with a good punch of spice much like Belle. I am also a huge fan of Trimbach Gewurztraminer, which may also be a little bit easier to find.

 

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