It works all the time on Broadway and in Hollywood—where nothing sells a musical or movie faster and easier than a pre-existence as film, TV series, comic book or video game.
Even as it’s fallen out of favor in some quarters, Disney has made an art and/or science out of turning its animated films into live-action stage shows—and, in a few cases, after that, into live-action movies too. Even movies that were born onstage— “Grease” certainly comes to mind—are reworked entirely so the live show will track the film.
So why shouldn’t it work with wine? No reason at all, if you ask Vintage Wine Estates, respected California winemaker Bob Cabral and the fine folks at HBO Global Licensing.
Together, they are behind the making and marketing of a three-wine series (chardonnay from the Central Coast, a red blend from Paso Robles and a reasonably high-end cabernet from Napa Valley) themed around the hit series “Game of Thrones.” To Cabral the wines reflect the intensity of the show and its fans—of which he is unabashedly one.
“These wines capture the complexity of the drama,” Cabral says. “But they also have a great pedigree. We source grapes from premier vineyard sites and use the finest winemaking techniques to create wines of incredible richness and texture.”
Asked exactly how he came up with these flavor profiles, Cabral admits it was every bit as much about the “sigil”—the animal or other object associated with the show’s “houses” of Lannister, Targaryen or Stark—as about anything that actually happens within the Seven Kingdoms. Lannister, for instance, is represented on its banners and such by a golden lion, Targaryen by a three-headed dragon and Stark by a so-called dire wolf, the most alpha of all the symbols.
That, naturally, made the wolf perfect for the big, bold Napa cab, with its classic structure and multiple layers of flavor. While still a lion and not a lamb, chardonnay is at the other end of this spectrum. It is, like a lion, golden in color and more than a little bit regal. Still, the dragon might represent the most interesting wine of the batch, a blend of syrah, tempranillo and petite syrah. Though the blend is quirky by European standards, there’s zero that’s quirky about the genius of Paso Robles for turning out unexpectedly delicious wines.
With the threesome and its marketing blitz, the wines of “Game of Thrones” take their place alongside bottles branded around “Downton Abbey” (Bordeaux, or “claret” in the British vocabulary) and “The Sopranos” (five different Italianate varietals). To paraphrase GOT’s motto for this, its seventh season on HBO…Wine Is Here.