Robin Williams, Spain and Cava on This Week’s “Cogill Wine & Film” Podcast

This week’s “Cogill Wine and Film, A Perfect Pairing” podcast on reVolver Podcasts toasts the incredible life of actor/comedian Robin Williams, taking a look at the new HBO documentary on his life, “Robin Williams: Come Inside My Mind.”

To pair, we raise our glass to the beautiful, gracious, hospitable people of Spain with their lust for life and never-ending generosity, including a special day in Cava land with one of the oldest producers of the sparkler in the world, Freixenet. More on both below. To listen to the show, click here or through your favorite podcast site, including Spotify, iTunes, IHeartRadio or Google Play.

We have also worked out a very special deal with a fabulous new wine website called Wine Access which features hand-selected, premium wines from across the globe. Knowing many of the wineries they feature I know these are wines that overdeliver on taste for their price, like Coombsville favorite Purlieu, stellar Chardonnay from Moone Tsai and Nicholas Jones, and perhaps the best $50 Barolo I have ever had. Wine Access has offered our listeneners an incredible deal, 20% off their already well-priced selections, just by clicking here or going to their website, wineaccess.com/cogill.

We hope you enjoy the show!

The Film: “Robin Williams: Come Inside My Mind”

“Robin Williams: Come Inside My Mind” is a fascinating, loving, and brutally honest HBO documentary about the life, career, and death of Robin Williams.

Emmy Award winning director, Marina Zenovich (Richard Pryor: Omit The Logic, Roman Polanski: Wanted and Desired), takes us on a journey of Robin’s life and career using a beautiful mix of personal conversations with friends and family, as well as never before seen footage that reveals a deeper, more troubling performer.

Some remarkable moments include Williams’ son, Zak, who talks about his father with sincere sadness along with a good dose of admiration. Also compelling are moments with Billy Crystal who started to realize Robin was troubled near the end, and points out his friend seemed happier when performing and somewhat awkward and introspective when not on stage.

“Robin Williams: Come Inside My Mind” eventually confronts his death both personally and medically near the end of it’s two hour running time. A wonderfully made film of substance about a human being that seemed to operate on a different comedy level than other greats. Williams obviously had demons but he also had friends and family that deeply cared about his well-being.

This film not only made me think, but helped me remember the dozens of times I spent in the presence of the great, Robin Williams. I do not use that term loosely.

Over a twenty year period I sat down for “on camera” interviews all over the world with Robin, who is considered by most journalists and film critics to be the best interview on the planet.

It was daunting task to keep up while the cameras rolled but that was a challenge I easily embraced. I loved being a straight man while he connected the comedy dots that swirled in his head.

Once, during an interview in Los Angeles, Robin looked at me smiling and said, “Gary, do Kermit The Frog for me.” I paused and started singing as Kermit, then he joined in as Miss Piggy, with most of the musical number unfit for broadcast television.

Robin was legendary among comics as a potential “joke stealer,” and during an interview in New York City, I gave him an original nugget. The next night I watched him on Letterman use my exact line and I remember fondly the rush of joy flooding me that Robin Williams had stolen my material. It felt good.

Robin was always “generous’ in conversation, looking you straight in the eye and answering thoughtful questions with an equal amount of sincere candor.

Then, if you pushed the right button, he would fly around the room, and every time it was the most wonderful place to be. In a room, talking life, art, Kermit, Ethel Merman, and film with Robin Williams.

Watch “Robin Williams: Come Inside My Mind” on HBO, it will answer a lot of your questions about his life and how he operated.

You’ll be better for the experience. I am better for having spent time with him.

The Pairing: The People of Spain & Cava

Gary and I recently returned from a fabulous few days in Barcelona, that included a wonderful day in Cava land with one of the original Cava producers, Feixenet, and their tiny production sister winery, Can Sala.

La Sagrada Familia

Pulpo (octopus), Sangria, and living 808…even in Spain

One of my earliest wine trips was with Friexenet’s owners, the Ferrer family, having an in-depth, hands-on assemblage (or blending) experience with Segura Viudas, sister winery to Freixenet. It was my first experience in Spain, and as I have returned to the country over the years, tasting Rioja, Toro, Priorat, Rueda, Ribera del Duero and Rias Baixas. I had the amazing experience to go truffle hunting on a snow-filled morning in Somontano, walked a part of the Camino in Galicia, have explored the muesums and parks of Madrid, and enjoyed one of my favorite meals of all time in Bilbao. With each of these experiences I am always struck by the generous hospitality and lust for life the people of Spain have.

Spaniards gather mid-day in street cafes and enjoy buckets of Cava, gin and tonics or vermouth, chattering about the day’s events, toasting every moment as a celebration. Dinner starts at 9 pm, at the earliest, and lasts well into the evening, enjoying tapas and paella with family and friends. I love the energy and enthusiasm that Spainards express, whether it be walking around the market gathering the day’s groceries, or hosting large dinners filled with lots of jamon, manchego and family and friends.

Our travel tip, while in Barcelona we stayed at the Ohla Eixample Hotel and I could not recommend it any higher, it was excellent and their staff made the experience ideal.

Macabeo vines

The only time we didn’t walk was on our day to Penedes for a Cava experience with Freixenet, producing traditional method sparkling wine, made from traditional Spanish grapes of Parellada, Macabeo and Xarel.lo. They have been making earthy, dry, brioche filled Cava in the region since 1861.

The highlight, walking the vineyards of old bush vines with grapes nearing harvest time, as seeing where the grapes come from is the best way to understand the flavors of the wine. Earthy and dry, unlike a Prosecco, highlighting sunshine filled citrus, toasted nuttiness and spice.

Their tiny production, sister winery, Can Sala, was started in 2004, created to honor Dolors Sala Vivé, mother of her, Josep Ferrer i Sala, current honorary president of the Group. This exceptional Cava, created in her memory, celebrates her life and achievements. And, we saw, the wine is made in the basement of Can Sala itself in Sant Quinti di Mediona, Dolors’ former family home.

Parellada grapes

Can Sala grapes are handpicked in the family estate from vines that are at least 60 years old and pressed in a carefully restored traditional press acquired initially from Champagne 150 years ago. The minimum age for a Gran Reserva in Spain is three years. Can Sala is aged under cork stoppers for no less than 8-9 years depending on the vintage. All the work takes place by hand, from riddling to disgorging – there’s no pumping or filtering. The wines are brut nature, allowing the land to shine through in each sip. This is Cava that speaks directly of their terroir.

The average production is 12,000 bottles, (1200 cases). Incredible, creamy and rich, but with freshness and acidity. Though made in a brut nature, very dry manner, the wine has juicy tangerine and lemon citrus notes, melding with white flower, and brioche.

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