A movie synopsis paired with Tenuta San Guido’s 2015 Sassicaia
Some of the best American movies are “mafia movies”. There may not be any as popular or as good as The Godfather, a rendition of the book written by Mario Puzo. It is an emotional rollercoaster story about a crime family’s struggle with surviving in the New York City’s underground mafia war. Between the political battles of the Five Families, a story of how a World War II hero, evolves from a smiling young gentleman, into “Don Corleone”, the head of the Corleone Crime Family.
Finding a wine that goes well with a movie of this caliber needs to be special. This is considered one of the best movies of all time, so we must drink one of the most recognized wines of all time. What better to go with a movie like this, than one of Italy’s best wines, 2015 Tenuta San Guido’s Sassicaia. Open it up and put it directly into a decanter. The wine will evolve over the next three hours right alongside the story of Michael Corleone (Al Pacino).
The movie opens up in the happiest moment of the film, the wedding of Connie Corleone and Carlo Rizzi. The scene is an introduction of the Corleone Crime Family. While all the major members are there, there are two that stand out, Don Vito Corleone (Marlon Brando) and Michael Corleone. The Don is approving favors as he does on the day of his daughter’s wedding, while Michael has just returned from World War II looking to start a normal American life with his girlfriend, Kay Adams (Diane Keaton).
At this time, the bottle of Sassicaia will be freshly opened. The fruit notes will be dominated by dark cherry, blackberry and black currant jam. The wine will taste and feel its fullest at this point. This stage is perfect for this scene of the movie because you don’t know what is going to happen, but right now it is a happy time in the film. Just like the movie, this wine has a lot of time to evolve going forward, into a more complex style.
After a scene where a couple of the Corleone employees go to Los Angeles to forcefully convince a Hollywood director to give a part to a Johnny Fontane, the real story of the “Five Families” begins. A meeting with Virgil “The Turk” Sollozzo, a big time heroin dealer backed by a rival family, and Don Vito Corleone takes place. Don Vito turns down the offer to help protect Virgil with his political connections as he does not want to get into the narcotics business. After a failed attempt by Luca Brasi to get some more information from Sollozzo, Don Vito Corleone is shot in the streets in an attempt to assassinate the crime boss.
While in the hospital, Michael goes to visit his father and notices that there are no guards protecting him. With some quick thinking, he and a couple known men act like protection and divert another assassination attempt on Don Vito. With some special planning Michael goes from the innocent civilian to getting payback by killing Virgil Sollozzo and his associate, the corrupt Captain McCluskey. Michael then flees and hides in Sicily. This a major turning point in the movie, Michael is no longer just a civilian who was considered a non threat. He is now in the family business.
This is a great time to check into the wine. The bright red fruit notes of Sassicaia will slowly start to fade. The earthy terroir and secondary notes will start to come through, and the aromas will be on the darker side. Notes of dried plum, fig, and spice will start to show through the leftover notes of blackberry and currants that were there when you opened the bottle.
Two years later, after the assassination of Michael’s brother Sonny, set up by Carlo Rizzo, it is apparent that the Corleone family needs to work with the other families and stop the violence. Don Vito calls for a meeting and asks for a cease-fire. He then agrees to use his political connections to protect the heroin drug trade, as long as it is never sold to children and Michael is safe to return.
Michael returns after 4 years, reuniting with his former girlfriend, Kay, while also taking over the family business as Don Vito is getting older and has a more limited role. Michael promises Kay that he is going to legitimize the family business in five years, and she agrees to stay with him. Michael appoints his brother in law, Carlo, to be his right hand man, not knowing his involvement in Sonny’s death.
This is the stage of the wine, where the bright fruits are really almost all the way gone, and the dark fruits, earth, and savory notes are really starting to come through. Like Michael’s journey, he still has a big heart, but it is fading into a criminal mind set. Notes of leather, tobacco, spice, and oak will all be matched by deep, dark fruit profiles. The wine is starting to reach its darkest point, but were not quite there!
At this point, Michael is now totally in charge of the family business. Kay asks him if he will agree on becoming the godfather of Connie and Carlo’s child, knowing that he will then be known as the new Don Corleone. Vito Corleone warns Michael that someone will try to assassinate him from within his ranks. Vito Corleone dies in his tomato garden while playing with his grandson, and at the burial service, Michael is told that Salvatore Tessio, an associate, was the person who plans to betray Michael. Tessio alongside the other four families wanted Michael dead. Michael agrees to become the godfather of Connie and Carlo’s child and uses the baptism as an alibi while others murder the heads of the other four crime families.
Around the same time, Michael finds out that Carlo has a part in setting up Sonny to be killed. He banishes him from all family business and tells Carlo, he will work in Las Vegas. On the way to the airport, Carlo is beaten to death. Connie confronts Michael and accuses him of murdering Carlo for the way he treated her. After she is removed, Kay comes in an asked Michael if he had Carlo killed. He tells her not to ask about the business, and she insists on knowing. Michael lies and she is relieved. As Peter Clemenza walks in the room, Kay leaves. Peter Clemenza kisses Michaels hand and recognizes him as Don Corleone. As the movie ends, the door shuts on Michael and Kay looks extremely worried.
The movie is over and you should be well into the last glass of wine. This is Sassicaia at its darkest time, just as Michael has become after lying to the love of his life. The fruit notes are gone, the wine has notes of smoked earth, leather, cigar tobacco, and tar. It is still full and structured, but what was left of the vibrant and upbeat style that it was when it was opened, has slowly gone away, just as the innocent personality and life of Michael Corleone.
When we talk about a one of the best movies of all time needing a wine to go with it, we need to pick one of the best wines of all time and that is why Tenuta San Guido’s 2015 Sassicaia is the perfect pairing for The Godfather.