While pinot noir and film noir rarely meet -- the later is all about whiskey, neat, of course -- pinot and film certainly do. They definitely will at the Hollywood & the Vine Seminar on Saturday, March 1, that's part of the World of Pinot Noir, held at the Bacara Resort & Spa in Santa Barbara. And yes, there is a World of Pinot Noir -- not just in your dreams, but an annual conference-tasting-celebration of the beautiful Burgundian varietal.
The Hollywood & the Vine Seminar will focus on the films Sideways and SOMM, with a panel featuring chef-winemaker Frank Ostini from the Hitching Post II and Chris Burroughs (from the tasting room of what was Sanford when Richard Sanford still owned it) representing Sideways and Brian McClintic and DLynn Proctor representing SOMM, as they were two of the candidates for the Master Sommelier title in that doc.
"The two sommeliers on the panel, Brian McClintic and DLynn Proctor, are both very competitive. In fact most sommeliers are very competitive. When you watch the movie SOMM you can see the level of intensity displayed by the sommeliers when they blind taste so we want that element at the seminar," explains Damon Miele, Event Coordinator for the World of Pinot Noir. "Chris Burroughs and Frank Ostini are two of the most genuinely kind people you could meet, but for the seminar tasting they'll be going up against two of the best sommeliers. I think they'll bring their A game with them to the seminar."
Sarah Schneider, Wine Editor from Sunset magazine, will moderate the panel. "I'm hoping that we can have a substantive conversation about what the two movies' success stories say about the role wine has come to play in our culture," she says. "Have we evolved from Prohibition-era barriers to being a wine culture? Or are we on the path at least?"
Proctor certainly thinks so, based on his take of Sideways, which is a decade old now. "I thought Sideways was a great movie that wasn't about wine," he opines. "It was about the process of life. You grow, you meet people, you experience things, you have hardships, and you grow some more, while finding time to live and love. Kinda sounds like pinot, ay?"
Indeed, while Sideways I have a tender spot for, finding it easy to sympathize with a middle-aged man who realizes that a mediocre, regular life is the best he can hope for and thereby develops a cultish knowledge of wine to justify drinking so much of it; SOMM I like as it makes me realize how much I yet need to learn, to know. One part of the seminar will focus on how to use the wine tasting grid sommeliers use, and as Miele says, "These guys know it inside out, backwards, upside down, and probably can recite it in their sleep. They'll guide guests through the grid for each wine."
So if you want to learn more about wine and film, or even better how to taste and describe wine, this is an event for you. "Taste everything," Proctor advises. "Make sure you are allowing your palate to experience all levels of acid, tannin, levels of sugar, and alcohol. Levels of ripeness and dryness. Then note those wines per their respective region to find their classic markers. And of course remember them. Then expect that some wines per region will be a bit off and try to understand why." The World of Pinot Noir is all about such understanding.