Wine Tasting Goes Biblical Hollywood-style

inheritwindFor some people wine is biblical, Old Testament, a holy gift from the earth. Hell dang tarnation. For some folks wine is a sacrament. For others… say heathen evolutionists, wine is folly, hedonistic, elixir of dadevilhisself. Disagreements of biblical proportions are old as sin. Clarence Darrow and William Jennings Bryan faced off in a small town Tennessee courthouse what seems like a century ago in the so-called Monkey Trial. The Hollywood movie machine told the story in the film “Inherit the Wind” which as a movie holds up very nicely half a century later. DarrowBryan2A very mature Spencer Tracy played Clarence Darrow and Frederic March played Bryan. In a sentence the trial attacked legislatively protected censorship; in that case, the legality of teaching evolution in Tennessee’s public schools. Sure glad that is no longer a problem.

Strange as it might seem, we wondered how we might apply this cultural theme to wine. We certainly have enough issues in the vinous miasma to test the case in our own court of tasting. All we need are a few controversial wines. We channel the spirits of the legendary men – Darrow and Bryan – as portrayed by Tracy and March in the fabulous movie “Inherit the Wind” to enlighten the lumpen among us.

txakoliWEB2010 Txakoli Gurru Txaga $16: Bryan was not a fan of this highly unusual wine that had so much lime flavors it would make a great margarita mix. “The Good Book says white wine is Chardonnay, oaked and buttered. It is the word of Parker revealed. Wine from foreign lands – Basque regions – that are full of acid and bitter spine are the work of Satan. Where is the sweetness of our blessed California earth? The law should prohibit the sale of this wine unless it comes with celery!” U20. 10.5%

malvira05WEB2004 Malvira San Guglielmo Langhe $23: Darrow believed in evolution however he also respected the old ways. The final scene in ITW has him clapping together the Bible and Darwin’s Evolution of the Species and leaving with both. He might describe this splendid blend of Barbera, Nebbiolo and Bonnarda from Piemonte thusly. “Would you prevent the vintners of a region from making match the bounty of animals and vegetables just because they choose to blend grapes as they have for centuries? I’m a fun guy who loves pasta laden with truffles. Would we not harvest tubers because they grow in the dirt? I would no sooner tell Domenico Clerico to not concoct the same blend as I would stop another winemaker from making a less costly version of Arte.” Darrow was renowned for his breadth of knowledge! He nailed this baby – poor man’s Arte! 14%

deforvillelanghe10WEB2010 De Forville Langhe Nebbiolo $18: Bryan was a 3 time failed Presidential candidate. Some said even though he was an expert on old time religion his breadth of knowledge was rather narrow. He might not have appreciated this “de-classifed Barbaresco.” The word of the prophet Hugh Johnson says there is Barolo and there is Barbaresco. Parker and the Spectator make no mention of “de-classified” regions. If a wine is “de-classified” from a sanctified region then that is no wine of mine! This wine is not friendly. It has no generosity of spirit, requiring 4 to 5 aerations before it will even reveal its Barolo-like nature. Do not be fooled my friends. Just because it smells and tastes like great wine from the holy lands of Nebbiolo does not mean we should offer reverence and accept it as a true Barolo.” Bryan was a strong orator but I think he missed this winner imported by Neal Rosenthal. U20 Super Bargain. 14%

fessparker_ashleysPN09WEB2009 Fess Parker Ashleys Vineyard Pinot Noir $50: Giving this to Darrow was too easy. “My long-time friend Mr. Bryan and I could easily share this wine and agree it is heavenly. I do not think Mr. Bryan would object to my calling to the stand as a witness Winemaker Blair Fox, especially if he were to pour a glass of his classic smoky Santa Rita Hills Pinot Noir for the jury and judge! We could serve Santa Barbara salumi since this wine has the body to handle many rich meats.” 14.5%

The man who argued against teaching evolution also wrote the following.

There are two ideas of government. There are those who believe that, if you will only legislate to make the well-to-do prosperous, their prosperity will leak through on those below. The Democratic idea, however, has been that if you legislate to make the masses prosperous, their prosperity will find its way up through every class which rests upon them.

Trickle-down economic theory is 100 years old.

Darrow got rich defending the railroads at the turn of the century only to switch sides and defend strikers and labor activists. Local history: he defended two men accused of bombing the LA Times building which resulted in Darrow being accused of bribing the jury!

The film is easy to stick with. Gene Kelly gets to be an actor playing the atheist activist and journalist H.L. Mencken. If you have a chance to watch “Inherit the Wind” tBoW recommends doing so. With a bottle of wine of course.

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