We head to the wild west on this week’s “Cogill Wine and Film, A Perfect Pairing” Podcast toasting the new Coen Brothers film “The Ballad of Buster Scruggs.” To pair with this dark comedy western, wines from one of the oldest wineries in California, Murrieta’s Well. More on both the wine and the film below.
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The Film: “The Ballad of Buster Scruggs”
I don’t know what gets me more excited? The idea of watching a new Coen brothers film in a local theater, or watching their latest dark comedy at home on Netflix. It’s good to have options.
Watching “The Ballad Of Buster Scruggs” at home with a bottle of wine and big sound proved to be a joy, despite feeling somewhat confused at times about the six-part western anthology told in 20-minute segments.
The beginning is both funny and shocking as Coen brothers favorite, Tim Blake Nelson, opens the film as a pistol-packing troubadour. He smiles, he sings, he wanders into a saloon, and before you can order a whiskey, bodies are everywhere.
The Coen brothers make movies on the highest level, and this darkly shaded send-up of the western genre includes a wagon train, a stagecoach, a shootout, and a romance, featuring Liam Neeson, James Franco, Tom Waits, and Zoe Kazan.
All of them performing admirably as an ensemble that revolves around death as a significant theme, because, well, life was hard in the west and death is everywhere.
The opening sequence is my favorite along with the slightly sweet wagon train chapter, but as a whole, I’m scratching my head a bit knowing that It’s going to take another viewing or two at my own pace. Possibly another bottle of wine with the lights turned down and the sound turned up.
It’s brilliant, and different, just like the Coen brothers.
- Gary Cogill
The Wine: “The Spur” from Murrieta’s Well
In the 1850s, in the days of the wild west, Joaquin Murrieta (considered an outlaw or a western Robin Hood) and his posse roamed the Sacramento Delta rounding up wild mustangs to sell in Mexico.
One of Murrieta’s preferred camps was where he considered the water to be the “best in the country.” That spot is the home of what became Murrieta’s Well Winery.
In 1884 Frenchman Louis Mel fell in love with the estate. He purchased the property, in what is today a part of the Livermore AVA, building a gravity flow winery into the hillside and planted a vineyard from cuttings from famed Chateau d’Yquem and Chateau Margaux. He sold the property to the Wente family in the 1930s.
In 1990 the winery was refurbished by the Wente Family and made into an actively working winery again. To toast their 20th anniversary in 2010, they created a red and a white anniversary wine, “The Whip” white blend, and “The Spur” Cabernet Sauvignon red blend.