Movie & Wine Pairing


Al Hirschfeld ‘Chaplin’ Merlot 2016

Modern Times (1936)
Currently Not Scheduled Available At TCM Web

A richly flavored red like this California Merlot is a perfect accompaniment to Chaplin’s last silent film – actually made during the sound era – and its complex depiction of a mechanized world and the everyday workers that struggle within it. Modern Times is at turns hilarious and heartwarming, a personal film that spoke volumes about Depression-era America, and an undeniable masterpiece.


One of the icons of 20th-century cinema, Charlie Chaplin was also an early collector of the work of Al Hirschfeld, whose famous theatrical drawings (including many of Chaplin) defined Hollywood for nine decades. The second in a series of wines honoring Hirschfeld, this velvety Merlot hails from talented winemaker Katie Carter and California’s fantastic 2016 vintage. Katie aged a portion of the wine in American oak barrels to impart subtle vanilla notes to the ripe strawberry and black cherry flavors. Enjoy a glass with one of Chaplin’s greatest films (see over).


Named after a grape-devouring blackbird (le merle in French), Merlot is one of the world’s most popular reds. Known for yielding silky, food-friendly wines, it’s famous in Bordeaux’s Pomerol and Saint-Emilion regions, where it makes sought-after bottles that can sell for thousands of dollars each. Merlot thrives all over the world though, namely in California, you’ll find a variety of pricey cuvées (mostly in Napa and Sonoma) and great-value reds like this.


GI_grapes_redclusters_vineCalifornia is on a real hot streak, and the 2016 vintage was no exception. Robert Parker says the Golden State’s had an “unprecedented and historic succession of great years, such as 2012, 2013, 2014, and 2015. It now appears 2016 will end up equally impressive. Talk about an ‘embarrassment of riches.’ … Nearly every vigneron and vintner I talked to was thrilled with what 2016 has produced.”


burg_openfacecloseupMerlot is very food-friendly, so feel free to experiment with this silky-smooth charmer. We suggest serving it alongside grilled lamb chops or gourmet burgers topped with caramelized onions. It’ll also be delicious with roasted turkey, crispy duck, or creamy vegetarian fare like wild mushroom risotto. Or, pour a glass for your red-wine-only guests to enjoy as a rich aperitif.

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