“You said forever. Never ending. Do you remember?”- Tony Scott, The Hunger
(My) Wine Thoughts: There’s a varnish-y smell to this stuff but it’s not off putting at all. It isn’t too acidic for me while it definitely tastes lemon tart. I am actually surprised that I like it, because Will categorized it as a medium acidic wine. Honestly, it’s very strong and overpowering but I really enjoyed drinking it. I didn’t feel ill the next day and I’d definitely drink this again. Although Charbono is only grown in a few places and isn’t a popular varietal in the U.S., those who grow it and make it are passionate about it, extremely passionate. 4 Stars
(My) Movie Thoughts: We received a request for cult films and decided to give you what you wanted. Obscure, check! Transgressive, check! Loyal niche following, check! This movie has it all. As completely strange and ridiculous this movie is I can’t help but love it. I love the traditional goth nightclub opening scene with Bauhaus and prior to my viewing was fangirling over Susan Sarandon, Catherine Deneuve and David Bowie. Stylistically, I can’t get over how cutting edge and cool it looks almost 30 years later. I am still blown away by Tony Scott’s direction, the cinematography and editing is absolutely phenomenal. It’s not for everyone and I definitely wouldn’t recommend it to anyone with mainstream tastes or with a conservative lean. It’s essentially about an ancient Egyptian bisexual vampire named Miriam, who due to her immortality has to grapple with intense loneliness and exist in the world with humans as her sole companions. Miriam carefully selects her human companions and then turns them into vampires..or so we are made to think. However, Miriam isn’t quite honest with her partners before she turns them. She tells them that they’ll never age or die. She promises them eternal life. This is not the case and after about 200 years or so, they began to age and decay at a rapid rate –but they’ll never die. Awful right? Compelled by what I assume is a combo of guilt, possessiveness, sympathy and affection she keeps her shriveled former lovers in coffins in her attic. Miriam although not the greatest or most moral character, does express sadness and shows sympathy for her human ex-companions. I mean yes, she’s selfish and manipulative, but she does care for her companions for a good 200 years. As soon as her newest lover John mummifies, she begins to look for a new companion. She finds her match in Dr. Sarah Roberts, a gerontologist hellbent on finding out what causes rapid aging. Without hesitation (or much of a mourning period) Miriam begins to pursue her. Miriam is able to hypnotize and permeate Sarah’s thoughts, luring her to her home. The two consummate their relationship and Miriam turns Sarah into a partial vampire. The ending is a little confusing, but what I gather happens is that feverish Sarah drains her boyfriends blood when he tries to save her and then uses Miriam’s knife pendant to attempt suicide. Miriam then carries Sarah to her mausoleum of past partners, where they all ambush her and she falls off her staircase, withers away and they all fall to dust. The last scene is Sarah with her companions looking over a balcony and Miriam’s creepy voice shouting out to her name from a coffin. So truth be told, either you’re going to hate The Hunger or it’s going to be a favorite on your shelf, right next to your copy of Cat People and The Man Who Fell to Earth.
(My) Comparison: Both pack a punch, both are non-mainstream favorites and have cult followings. Both are overpowering and are expressed in beautiful yet erratic ways. From Catherine Deneuve who is head to toe in Yves Saint Laurent through the entire film (half the time covered in blood), to the silky smooth mouthwatering tartness of Charbono, I can understand why people are seduced by both.
(My) My Weekly Winner: It’s a tie for me. Call me a cultist and hand me that purple kool aid!
(W’s) Wine Thoughts: Outside of the frowned upon helpfulness of Wikipedia, the most informative and in depth reading about Charbono can be found in the following PDF: http://pacificstarwinery.com/pdf/press/wine_news_0704.pdf. It was written 13 years ago and offers the most worthwhile information I could get my hands on. And I don’t say that lightly. Charbono is something that I pour for my guests almost every day. I am constantly googling it and searching for more history. Winefolly.com offers a small amount of information and if you’re well versed in Malbec from Argentina you probably know as much everyone else. Without knowing it, that is. What I mean is Charbono goes by another name down south. It’s called Bonarda and it finds regular use in Malbec and other blended red wines. You’ve probably consumed one of the most unknown wines in the world and…well…not known it! I literally talk about it almost every day and I know VERY little about it myself. What I’ve learned about Charbono over the course of the past 2 ½ years is minimal in comparison to that awesome article that I highly recommend reading. I am aware of 4 producers in the Sonoma/Napa area who farm the less than 100 acres of Charbono growing on the North American continent today: Turley, Mutt Lynch, Russian River Vineyards and Inizi. Why aren’t there more? Well it’s a pretty sad story. Charbono made it’s way from the Savoie Region (Sardinian/Italian at that time, now French) to California in the early 1800 by Italian immigrants. With great popularity, Charbono was produced by Inglenook (A formerly mighty brand now recognized by large format bottles of White Zinfandel) from the late 1800’s all the way through Prohibition, legally mind you, up until the 1990’s when they were bought out by Francis Ford Coppola. How did they get away with making wine during Prohibition? By making Sacramental wine for the Catholics of course! The horror story I hear at my job is Coppola didn’t want to make the weird unpopular Charbono so he replanted it and replaced it with something that people know, Cab, Zin, Merlot etc. When he did that he effectively removed almost all of the Charbono from North America. To this day there are only a few weirdos who answer in the affirmative when asked if they are familiar with Charbono. The saddest thing of all? Endless Sonny Bono and Cher jokes. Please, on behalf of the world of wine, shut up.
On the nose: Cinnamon , wood, overripe blueberry and cherry and if I’m being honest there is this subtle nail polish remover thing happening. It smells intense. When you take a sip: robust tannins (the aging potential here is high), lively electric acidity on the side of your tongue, it’s a velvety blanket of plumb and rich tobacco for your mouth as well. Light cedar, toasted marshmallow. Oh boy, it is decadent and yummy. Unlike anything you’re familiar with. 5 stars
(W’s) Movie Thoughts: In my mind this movie has always been ‘our movie’. Whenever I think of media crossovers I have with my lady friend, The Hunger is always first. It’s a rare thing for us to like the same movies, songs, TV shows. I suffered through Mad Men, all 200 seasons and I’m still not sure why. So when I was introduced to this film about 3 years ago I was instantly smitten. Mostly because we finally agreed on a movie. Also because it remains a weird, culty, undiscovered, underappreciated and kickass 80’s vampire movie starring David Bowie for Christ’s sake! It’s Tony Scott’s (brother of Ridley Scott) and director of such films as Top Gun (1986) Days of Thunder (1990), Enemy of the State (1998), Man on Fire (2004) and Domino (2005)) first feature length film and I bet you’ve never heard of it. That’s what I thought! It is dripping with 1980’s fashion, music, film technique and all around style. In short: Centuries old human turned vampire John (Bowie) is suddenly and rapidly aging. His immortal vampire lover Miriam never told him that immortal life for him meant 300 years of fun and an eternity of liver spots and immobility. As John becomes yesterday’s news, Miriam seeks a new love to entertain her for a few centuries. Enter Sarah (Susan Sarandon). After a few giant plot holes that must have stemmed from awkward studio demanded script rewrites, Sarah kills (or something) Miriam and becomes a Vampire herself (somehow) and reigns presumably as the new vampire queen for the next 300-3,000 years. This explains why I never see Tim Robbins during the day! Basically, if you like Stranger Things, The Goonies or any popular 1980’s thriller you will love The Hunger. ProTip: do not watch this movie with your parents while home for Christmas the way I did. The beautifully filmed lesbian sex scene set to devastatingly gorgeous classical music make for a very awkward 5 minute silences. Otherwise, watch this film right now. You’re welcome. 4 stars
(W’s) Comparison: Forgotten, lost and underappreciated. Both ending in sad stories: Charbono’s near extinction and Tony Scott’s obvious brilliance for capturing life and putting it to film cut short by his 2012 suicide. A cult wine and a cult movie never paired better. Cult here of course not meaning anything negative, it just means there aren’t enough of us appreciating it yet!
(W’s) Weekly Winner: Charbono! While Tony Scott’s vampire vision will always be accessible in one format or another, Charbono might not be. Get it while you can.
The weekly winner is Charbono!
2014 Russian River Vineyards Charbono Guido Venturi Vineyard
The Hunger Dir. Tony Scott, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, 1984. Film.