By now, we’ve had two events in the Sommelier Cinema series, both life changing events that were absolutely enchanting. We started with VICKY CRISTINA BARCELONA with a flight of Catalan wines from Claudia Alarcon, and last month we showed the French classic JULES AND JIM while Darcie Jane Fromholz and Rachel Wilson presented a selection of French and German wines that were out of this world.
Now we’re back with a trip to Italy – sort of. We’re presenting Fellini’s wonderful NIGHTS OF CABIRIA, the tragic story of love’s aspirations and life’s disappointments. This landmark film in world cinema reaches the greatest depths of sorrow and the highest peaks of joy.
Our guest sommelier Jeremy Parzen, the food and wine historian and writer for the blog Do Bianchi, sees this movie, as well as much of the work of genius filmmaker Federico Fellini, as a tale of life’s bitter realities and the brief moments of exhilaration that make it all worth while. These quick glimpses of bliss are like effervescence, teasing our senses and dancing before us without care or restraint. What better way to celebrate that instinct than with sparkling wine?
Parzen has crafted his wine flight around two extraordinary sparkling wines, both from the country most famous for its bubbles, France. The other two wines are distinctly Italian. Here are his selections:
Chateau Moncontour Vouvray Tête de Cuvée Brut NV
The one wine the characters of Cabiria drink in frame is Champagne. In the late 1950s in Rome, Champagne denoted a wide variety of sparkling wines with a wide range of provenance (although true Champagne can only be made in the region of Champagne in France). This dry sparkling wine is made from Chenin Blanc grown in the Loire Valley and is made using the méthode champenoise, where the wine is fermented a second time in bottle.
Terres Dorées FRV100 Sparkling Gamay de Jean Paul Brun NV
The overarching theme of Fellini's films is characters who find joy and revel in the beauty of life (la dolce vita) even in the worst imaginable situations. Cabiria is a classic Fellinian creation and she inspired the selection of this sparkling Gamay from the low-rent district of Beaujolais because it is as joyful as she. The winemaker is a fan of Fellini and mentions him as inspiration on the label of this bottle. The wine is named FRV100, rebus (in French) for effervescent.
Tenuta di Pietra Porzia Frascati Superiore Regillo 2009
Frascati is the classic white wine of the Roman castle district, where popes and princes still make their homes and vacation villas to this day. In a time when table wine was nearly always produced locally, bright fresh and food-friendly Frascati often graced the tables of Rome's famous trattorie, where the rich and famous dined side-by-side with the proletariat.
Ca' del Monte Ripasso Valpolicella Classico Superiore 07
Long before Barolo or Barbaresco, Brunello or Chianti, or the now ubiquitous and falsely crowned Super Tuscans were adored by the privileged class, Valpolicella was considered one of the great red wines of Italy. In the 1950s, you were apt to be poured Valpolicella in one of the swank restaurants of the Via Veneto, the elite thoroughfare that appears in many Roman films from that era. Indeed, Fellini's characters are served a Valpolicella in his most famous (however misunderstood) film, LA DOLCE VITA — set against a swinging Via Veneto cast of players.
For the popular price of only $26 you get these four glasses of wine, a plate of cheese from the fine people at Antonelli's Cheese Shop, and a seat to watch this magnificent film. How could you not attend?