In the German Expressionist film M—the 1931 masterpiece by the moodiest of Hollywood’s great directors, Fritz Lang, and starring one of the greatest character actors of all time, Peter Lorre—deep focus, high contrast black & white cinematography, dark shadows and extreme camera angles create a somber, angst-ridden and intense mood that is the hallmark of the German Expressionist style. The film is a morass of morality and existentiality. Think painter Munch’s The Scream.
Looking at the strikingly visual website of SANS LIEGE, the California Central Coast winery that produces this 2012 Groundwork Grenache, the esthetics of German Expressionist art is emphatically stated as a strong influence on winemaker Curt Schalchlin. Indeed, upon first contact, this Grenache is dark toned, deep and philosophical. Its liqueur-like texture and gentle tannins are expansive on the palate. Whatever moodiness is established on the onset, however, breaks open to an uplifting melange of bing cherry, ripe wild strawberries and sweet raspberries, wood and clove notes. There’s storytelling here, of refusing to give in to darkness. Brightness of fulsome, brambly fruit wins out, and hope prevails. The German Expressionists would balk at any hint of an uplifting ending, but this is, after all, California Central Coast wine all the way. –J.M.
Great Wine: Flor d’Englora Garnatxa (Garnacha)