“You have a tall task — on two fronts.”
Those were the words my friend and consigliere Jeff Lefevere (who has got to be the most talented blogger currently not blogging) had for me when I asked him for advice in interviewing movie icon Francis Ford Coppola about his Sonoma wine endeavors.
“Coppola is near icon, and has been oft-interviewed,” Jeff pointed out, before quickly adding, “More importantly, how do you talk a little wine without coming off sounding like a shill who is reading from the press release?”
That last part is something that plagues writers covering any area. Even if you pull out all of the stops and interviewing chops, some people will simply give you charming marketing spiel, the equivalent of the stuff you could get from their website About pages only in certified from-the-horse’s-mouth quotation form.
So for my Wined Down / Playboy.com interview with Coppola, I decided to take Jeff’s advice and try to get inside of Coppola’s head a little bit, even going so far as to link our conversation back to a PB interview that he did around forty years ago (for more on that one, see Playboy’s 50 Years of the Playboy Interview collection). I suppose it worked to some extent, since in the course of it he reveals that he’s working on a new screenplay, and even the publicists on his side didn’t know about that. More likely I just got lucky.
Anyway… we talk wine, of course, focusing on his work in Sonoma (look, Coppola’s Rubicon/Inglenook stuff is an awesome story line, but as Jeff insightfully pointed out, it’s been oft-told), his love of Bordeaux, how he looks back on previous interviews and the iconic characters that he’s created, and whether or not he was trying to tell the wine cognoscenti to f*ck off by moving his movie memorabilia and shop out of Napa.
Okay, this is the part where you head over to PB and check it out!
Earlier this week, I could have had wine signed by Philadelphia Flyers bruising legend Dave “The Hammer” Schultz.
Dave’s wine, that is. The Hammer Chardonnay. Given Dave’s playing reputation as an enforcer, I’d hope that this Chard packs at least 14.5% abv and is an oak & fruit bomb that will knock you squarely on your ass after two glasses.
[ Editor’s note: I met The Hammer once. He’s a very big and imposing man and I want to make it very clear that I am not making fun of him. Thanks. ]
Dave’s wine is part of the NHL Alumni Signature Wine Series – wines that bear the picture and signatures of hockey greats like Gordie Howe (another Chard bottling), Wendell Clark (a Canadian-only Merlot) and Pat LaFontaine (a CA Cab) – the proceeds are divvied up among a few charitable causes:
“There are three charitable components to the NHL Alumni Signature Wine Series™ wine program. First, a portion of the proceeds from every bottle sold will be donated to the charity of each player’s choice. Second, each of the teams’ Alumni Associations will receive a portion of the proceeds to be further donated to the charities of their choice. Finally, a portion of the proceeds will also benefit the NHL Alumni Association’s “Hockey’s Greatest Family Fund” which helps bring together former players to support charitable causes, assist former players in life after hockey and generally promote the game of hockey.”
The wines are made by Ironstone Winery and distributed via MyWinesDirect. I haven’t tried them yet, and I’m not holding my breath over it, either – both Dave Schulz and Bobby Clarke are legends in Philly, but thanks to the Communist-like liquor sales setup in the Flyers’ home state, those living in PA won’t be able to have the wines shipped to them. Oh, the irony…
Personally, I view this as a logical guy response to Paris Hilton’s wine-in-a-can. What do you think about celebrity wine and the NHL series? Let’s hear it in the comments!