26 July 2012 § 1 Comment
Your favourite wine movie; do you have one? Let me know if you do.
I have several favourite wine movies but top of my list at present is not mentioned in either of these reports. It’s Dean Spanley, a clever and poignant meditation on fathers, sons and mortality with a subtle reference to the magic of wine.
Dean Spanley features Peter O’Toole as a witty, goggle-eyed old curmudgeon who has become increasingly rigid in his habits since the death of his eldest son at war, and then his wife from a broken heart. Jeremy Northam plays his son; increasingly exasperated with his father’s refusal to express grief and desperate to make sense of the injustice of his brother’s death. In his search for solace, son takes father to a public lecture on reincarnation by an Indian prince who is hilariously uninterested in the idea of future lives since he’s content with his present wealth. His next life could not possibly compare!
At the lecture, father and son encounter an irreverent, resourceful fixer (Bryan Brown) and Dean Spanley, an edgy, enigmatic clergyman (Sam Neill; a film world wine grower who owns Two Paddocks in New Zealand).
It’s gradually revealed that when the Dean drinks Tokaji he’s transported to a past life as a dog. I won’t say more than this about the story except that Neill’s performance is deliciously canine.
But I would like to say a little more about Tokaji. « Read the rest of this entry »
24 June 2012 § 2 Comments
Meet Maurice O’Shea: a far sighted vine grower, a magician when it came to blending wines; a vigneron who could see the world in a wine glass.
O’Shea died in 1956 but I met him through his love letters along with stories of him which still ripple around the wine industry, tales told by folk near where I live in Newcastle NSW, and a transcript of a talk O’Shea himself gave to food and wine connoisseurs in Sydney in 1950.
Why was I reading his love letters? They’re in the Local Studies section of Newcastle City Library. As long as you’re a responsible member of the public you can pop in and read them anytime. Or you can read impressions of the passionate way O’Shea wrote, in the early 1920s, to his future wife, Marcia Fuller, in Campbell Mattinson’s The Wine Hunter, The Man Who Changed Australian Wine (2006) or Peter McAra The Vintner’s Letters (2007).
Love is lovely, yes. But when I went searching for O’Shea what I really wanted to know about was his work with wine. I was to speak about him at an event in the Hunter Valley NSW to honour his work at McWilliam’s Mount Pleasant, Pokolbin; the unveiling of a heritage cairn; one of four in a growing series of cairns which celebrate the heritage of Hunter wine growing. « Read the rest of this entry »