When I saw a full page ad in the New York Times to promote Francis Ford Coppola’s latest film Tetro, there was something peculiar in the right hand corner of the page — a 7-inch bottle of the vintner’s claret. What I couldn’t figure out was what a French-inspired claret had to do with a film set in Argentina. Wouldn’t an Argentine malbec be more fitting?
Tetro, written and directed by Coppola, is about the reunion of two brothers and the story follows the rivalries born out of creative differences passed down through the generations of an artistic Italian immigrant family. It stars Vincent Gallo and a portrait of him dominates ad. But it seems the right hand corner was reserved for Gallo’s co-star, the Francis Coppola Diamond Collection, 2007 Black Label Claret.
When I asked Coppola what’s up with this unlikely pairing, he said: “One reason was to have the reader give ‘pause’ for a moment to wonder why it was there and not to skip by a familiar ad.”
On a practical note, the Academy Award-winning director who doubles as a vintner said: “Having a successful winery helps the film side and the winery shared I the cost of the ad. “ (The ad, incidentally, cost $84,000.) “The Diamond Claret is the company’s best selling bottle of wine and so we thought we’d feature that.”
Coppola, best known for The Godfather series and Apocalypse Now, began moonlighting as a vintner in the mid 1990s. He and wife Eleanor own Rubicon Estate in Rutherford and Rosso & Bianco in Geyserville.
So does this famed director/vintner have any wines at all playing a role in Tetro, now that we’ve established that the claret didn’t make the cut?
Apparently there are no scenes in the film with still wine. Most of the social encounters take place in cafes over espresso. The other beverage you see is Yerba Mate, a traditional Argentine drink. In three scenes bottles of champagne are opened. Two are celebratory and in one the champagne is offered as a sign of respect.
Coppola spent a year in Buenos Aires and since it is well known that he is a vintner, he received many wines to try: Argentine malbec and torrontes.
In Tetro, which has already opened in several Bay Area theatres, Coppola draws upon some personal experiences but the film is not autobiographical. And yet he does have one thing in common with Tetro. Like the character, Coppola ran away from military school.
Funny thing about the rebellious. They’re either locked away or they win Academy Awards.