A day in the life of a wine publicist with a night train…

Night Train to Lisbon ~ A Sunday Segue

Searching for my comfort film A Good Year, I fell upon Night Train to Lisbon. It’s a film based on the novel of the same name. Written by Pascal Mercier in German, and later by Greg Latter and Ulrich Herrmann. It’s a story of the constant intrigue and/or resistance of both the characters and the time during the Portuguese Fascist Resistance.*

Raimund Gregorius, the central character of Night Train to Lisbon, is a stuffy Swiss professor of classical languages. His world is defined by his books and his routines.

He lives a comfortable, predictable life, a life into which the new never intrudes. That is, until he interrupts a strange woman’s apparent suicide attempt. Their chance encounter leads Gregorius to an unusual book.” — RonBC review

As I began what seems like few moments to catch my breath with all that life is currently bestowing up on me, I chose to watch “A Good Year,” if I could easily find it. But instead, I fell upon Night Train to Lisbon. I have taken a jet across the Atlantic to Lisbon… “Imagine a European, internal night train trip to Lisbon,” I thought. I’d watched it for the memories of places I’ve been, perhaps to catch a glimpse… Narrow streets, whitewashed buildings with Terracotta roofs, azulejos, bistros, and the Tagus River’s edge…. the West Coast Golden Gate Bridge’s sister, leading to the east, to open up the rest of Europe.

A Fine Chardonnay

Yeah, I needed a glass of wine that would also work just fine. It ended up being a 2012 River Road Family Vineyards and Winery Unoaked Chardonnay . This is one that I also needed to professionally think about; uncover the flavors that define the palate of winemaker Joe Freeman’s style. And, there it was. A bottle that had been opened for a few days. Each day tasting and enjoying. “Sometimes thinking about it; sometimes not,” I thought. “But, always, the flavors were there and becoming pleasantly familiar.”

And so the movie and the wine began to intertwine, as intrigue and/or resistance unfolded about a every part of the story, just the way a wine does, as least as far as the intrigue and the unfolding do.

I enjoyed the fact that Jack Alexander Huston (Richard Harrow in the “Boardwalk Empire”) stars in Night Train to Lisbon, as Amadeu de Almeid. He’s a character in a book, left in the pocket of the coat by this strange woman’s apparent suicide attempt. Raimund Gregorius has the book and finds himself on a Night Train to track her down. Gregorious’s character is the vehicle that unravels all of the on screen intrigue and/or resistance in this film, as his own life slowly unravels into a new chapter.

As the movie played itself out, my avocation (wine blogging) and vocation (wine writing) became intertwined. I found myself beginning to write my own story that was evolving in separate thoughts.

“We leave something of ourselves behind when we leave a place; we stay there, even though we go away. And there are things in us that we can find again only by going back there…. But by traveling to ourselves we must confront out own longing…” Movie quote

And, I thought about my own trip to Lisbon via a 747…

Another area I found intriguing, when asked about the father and son’s relationship…

“Their relationship was complicated.” (What a great description. “I’ll drink to that,” as I sipped my Ron Rubin 2013 Russian River Valley Chardonnay.

FATHER: “I was very proud of him.”

SISTER: “Then, why didn’t you ever tell him?”

Not nearly as complicated as my own thoughts, but I did understand how it meshed with Night Train to London. And, the sister reminded me of Portugal’s Isabel. My own parallels with beautiful Lisbon kept running back and forth from the movie, to what I remember of the place where a piece of my heart for a county was left behind.

The wine, on the other hand was turning into signature characteristics for winemaker Joe Freeman. I wonder if anyone else feels this way about working for a client (or company) long enough to taste that wine and all of a sudden “getting” the signature? But that was happening, like just “getting” a Roman Polanski film signature would be… The winemaking signature revealed itself, not just for this wine, but for all of the wines coming from Joe Freeman that I’ve tasted for nearly two years now.

Crisp and clean, any oak that touches this wine only leaves it smooth and with hints of citrus and butternut.

As I saw the word “farmacia” on the screen, I was pulled back in the film first; then into thoughts of Portugal and remembering how I so appreciate the Portuguese language for being so honest… Just writing it with an “f” instead of a “ph.” …farmacia…

Have you ever made a split decision to do something and have it change your life forever? No turning back, just going forward and then having a completely new chapter evolve, no going back?

That’s what this movie is all about… It’s also what each new vintage of wine is about, as a winemaker greets each new harvest and what it will bring from the changes over the past, each chapter they can wax poetic…

I’ll be back to this movie, again. I know that it’s one that I’ll watch more than a few times to align Portugal and my soul metaphysically.


* WIKI: The Movement of National Antifascist Unity (Portuguese: Movimento de Unidade Nacional Antifascista or MUNAF) was a political platform of democratic organizations which fought against the Portuguese authoritarian regime, led by António de Oliveira Salazar. The Movement of National Antifascist Unity was founded in December 1943, shortly after the 3rd Congress of the Portuguese Communist Party, that strongly influenced its creation.