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August 7, 2019

A simpler way to look at terroir…mise en scéne!

Post by South Lyndale Liqours

Mise en Scéne

an expression used to describe the design aspect of a theatre or film production, which essentially means "visual theme" or "telling a story"—both in visually artful ways through storyboarding, cinematography and stage design, and in poetically artful ways through direction.

A simpler way to look at terroir…mise en scéne!

Action/Adventure Films

  • California Cabernet: Ulitra Violet
  • California red: Clos de Gilroy
  • Sauvignon Blanc: Walnut Block


Who out there has seen a film? I’d guess most of us. And I’d also guess that we’ve seen a film that we would describe as good, great? Even amazing! Think back through what it is that contributed to that experience. Was it  the place that you were when you saw it? Is it who you were with? Maybe... Perhaps everything in that movie came together perfectly?

This is what is referred to as mise en scéne -various elements that come together in a succession of moments to create a unified and composed brilliance! Actors, costumes, lighting, sets and props. All of these elements are overseen by a collaboration between a director and production designer.

Mise en Scéne in Wine

For wine, we can see the director as the winemaker. And the production designer  is potentially the the vineyard manager. Sometimes these roles are one in the same depeding on the size of the operation and their foucs. If we agree this is true, then those aforementioned elements (costume, prop, light, etc) become slope, aspect, soil type, brix... elements handled in different ways by different directors…er… winemakers.

A simpler way to look at terroir…mise en scéne!

Wines for the Classics!

  • Burgundy: Coisot Corps De Garde
  • Sancerre: Les Barronnes
  • Champagne: Monthuys Brut Reserve


Off to the movies

Each winemaker, as director, has a vision.  And to complete that vision, they must work within given elements. To some the outcome of that collaboration is something too dry (a melodrama?). Too sweet (rom com?). Too oaky or extracted (Michael Bay made this wine).

And whether we like those wines or not they may garner tremendous scores by certain critics. But just as we have our own tastes, so do critics.  There are sleepers of course. And also, a feel good wine is one that almost everyone agrees is, “good, I like that wine.”

Consumer Tastes

As consumers we like different wines at different times.  But as much as we like the wine it can become less impactful the more we consume it. That film we loved so many years ago now seems a little tame or silly.  Wine-drinking is often the same way.  After so many years or bottles we begin to lean in another direction or try something new.

As in film so in wine, we are lucky to have so many options. We can be constantly refreshed. And as long as everything is in balance (acid, fruit, tannin) we can experiment with different genres.  There are white wines for red drinkers, rosés for white wine drinkers and bubbles for everyone. And when we just need to break out… why not something totally unpredictable… natural and unstabilized (Window Water Baby Moving anyone?).

A simpler way to look at terroir…mise en scéne!

Experimental/Natural Wines

  • Amorro
  • Populis: Wabi-Sabi


Not everyone likes a Steven Spielberg or Dorothy Arzner or Sidney Lumet film, but generally speaking we can understand what they were going for. Just as we may prefer California Pinot Noir to Burgundy or Burgundy to California, if it’s good, it’s balanced.

Let’s call this part one of an idea… and until the sequel drink a bunch of different wines and watch a bunch of movies!

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