Wine of the Month Club | Count Dracula’s Wine? What a great story and interview


Paul:                      This is quite an honor to present to you guys some really, really fun wine, a fun wine, and go back a little history.  My brother was the president of the Sons of the Desert Club in high school where we watched old movies in his room as a young 9, 10 year old, 11 to do that, all the black and whites.  And when I found out that, and everybody says Bela Lugosi.

Bela:                      It’s Bela.

Paul:                      Bela Lugosi.

Bela:                      Right.

Paul:                      Introduced a wine, Bela Lugosi.  Did he call himself Jr.?

Bela:                      Yeah.

Paul:                      You’re not really a Jr., no?

Bela:                      No.

Paul:                      Okay.  But junior’s here anyway.

Bela:                      I am.  When senior person deceased.

Paul:                      Right.  He became junior.

Bela:                      Then have the junior name.  [Inaudible 0:54] did when he was alive.

Paul:                      Oh, I see.  I get it now.

Bela:                      Right.

Paul:                      But your middle name is the same?

Bela:                      No, no middle name.

Paul:                      Okay.

Bela:                      Yeah.

Paul:                      So the bottom line is we have Bela Lugosi Jr. here, the son of Dracula.  I don’t think that’s a movie, is it?

Bela:                      It is.

Paul:                      Oh, there is a movie Son of Dracula.  And they’ve introduced a wine from Argentina which is absolutely gorgeous.  It’s from the highlands of Argentina.  And we’re here to talk a little bit about old movies and we’re here to talk about wine making.  The first question I have, I know that you are not in the film business.

Bela:                      No.

Paul:                      You’re an attorney.

Bela:                      Yes, I am.  I took my dad’s good advice.  He thought that on the talent side of the entertainment business, actors are too dependent upon producers and agents.  And he thought that I should go into some profession.  Sadly, he didn’t live long enough to know that I actually made it.

Paul:                      That you made it?  Oh boy!  But you worked for [inaudible 1:45].  You’ve got couple of landmark cases that you’ve been involved in, one of them in the movie industry, right?

Bela:                      Oh yes, yeah.  The landmark [inaudible 1:53] publicity case which has to do with ownership of the name and likeness for commercial purposes of deceased individuals.

Paul:                      Yes.

Bela:                      Yeah, that’s my case, Lugosi versus Universal.

Paul:                      Wow.  That’s great stuff.  So like if I wanted to take this piece and broadcast it all over the place, I don’t have the rights to this do I?

Bela:                      Well you have to have a license because it has the name.

Paul:                      But I know the guy, Jr., anyway, right?

Bela:                      Jr., yeah.  I’ll make a special deal for you.

Paul:                      You’re a Trojan.  I’m a Trojan.  My wife’s a Trojan.  My kids are Trojan.  My dad’s a Trojan.  He came here in ’49, graduated ’52, and you were there for..?

Bela:                      Yeah, I was there.  I graduated undergrad at 1960.  I was on the swimming and water polo teams.

Paul:                      Really?

Bela:                      And I graduated from law school at ’64.

Paul:                      You know they’ve just honored at the SC game the [inaudible 2:36] the swimming and diving team from was it ’62?

Bela:                      Yeah.

Paul:                      Was it National Championship?

Bela:                      Yeah.

Paul:                      Wow!  That’s interesting.  Are you swimming still or not much?

Bela:                      Not much.

Paul:                      Not as much before.

Bela:                      Just in the ocean.

Paul:                      So here we have some fun things.  Here’s a whole picture of dad.

Bela:                      That’s dad in his Dracula costume, his cape and full dress.

Paul:                      Now when he came to this country, what year?

Bela:                      In the early 20’s.

Paul:                      From?

Bela:                      Well, he was from Hungary.

Paul:                      Yes.

Bela:                      From a town that’s now in Romania.  But he fled from Hungary, went into Germany, and got involved in the film business in Germany, hopped a steamer bound for New Orleans.

Paul:                      Wow!

Bela:                      Got off the ship.

Paul:                      New Orleans.  Wow!  That’s interesting.

Bela:                      Yeah.  Came to New York and then went through Ellis Island.

Paul:                      Oh, he went through Ellis Isle?

Bela:                      Yes, he did.

Paul:                      So you tracked that through the documents?

Bela:                      Oh yes.  I’ve been to Ellis Island where the historians have shown me all the records.

Paul:                      Wow!  That’s really exciting.

Bela:                      Yeah.

Paul:                      So he came here as an actor already.  At the 50’s, what was the last movie he made?  What year?

Bela:                      Well, he died in 56 so surely, he…

Paul:                      He was still making movies at that point?

Bela:                      Yeah.  He was still making movies.

Paul:                      So did he feel typecast at that point or was he happy with that moniker, Dracula?

Bela:                      Well, he always used to say that it’s a blessing and a curse.

Paul:                      Right.

Bela:                      Of course it typecast him on the one hand that it kept him employed for those kind of parts.

Paul:                      Right.  All the time.

Bela:                      He was sad that he didn’t have the ability to offer, he was a very famous stage actor in Europe, and he couldn’t bring all these other character parts to the screen.

Paul:                      And it’s sad actually because he probably had some great things to bring.

Bela:                      He was a very talented guy.

Paul:                      And I had to ask this question earlier.  But did Boris Karloff hang around the house or where they friends or..?

Bela:                      Well, Boris and dad came from such different backgrounds.

Paul:                      Yeah.

Bela:                      Boris drank tea and was from England and like gardening.

Paul:                      Oh, really?

Bela:                      My dad liked food, music, cigars, good wine.

Paul:                      Now that’s interesting.

Bela:                      His social friends were primarily people in the Hungarian community, artists, dancers.

Paul:                      And Hungarian community in LA, in Hollywood, was usually prominent?

Bela:                      Yeah, well there’s a lot of people in the entertainment industry that are Hungarian.

Paul:                      Really?

Bela:                      Yeah.

Paul:                      Wow!  That’s interesting.  So Boris did not hang around.

Bela:                      No.

Paul:                      But they were on screen about the same time, weren’t they?

Bela:                      Yes.  Not only that, they were in movies together.

Paul:                      Wow!

Bela:                      Oh yeah.  We have a lot of pictures of them together.

Paul:                      Well, I had a ton of fun looking for pieces of film to do this video with us, and you’ll see the intro, everybody’s going to see the intro that I put together, but I had a lot of fun going through that because I remember the day in my brother’s room watching these old movies, and they would study them as a group.  They had to write little papers on the things.  So this is a 2007 Malbec.  It’s from a region of Argentina.  It’s way up high like with the highest elevation in the world, right?

Bela:                      Yes. It’s from Salta so it’s on the eastern foot of the Andes.  The vineyards go between where this wine came from, from 6500 to 7500 feet elevation.

Paul:                      That’s amazing.

Bela:                      Yeah.  And what happens is the mold doesn’t grow because of the lack of oxygen so you can pick these grapes when they’re ready, not when you need to get rid of the mold.

Paul:                      Oh, interesting, yeah.

Bela:                      Yeah.

Paul:                      So it’s cool.  And I see you made 1200 bottles this first vintage.

Bela:                      Only 1200.  They’re all numbered.

Paul:                      They’re hand numbered.

Bela:                      Right.

Paul:                      And I noticed because I tasted this a couple days ago.  What I noticed was it changed in the glass because it’s a pretty tight wine.  And I think it’s from the cool climate.  And Malbec it means some ripening but, boy, jus the ten minutes we spent together last week.

Bela:                      Yeah.

Paul:                      It started to change in the glass rather dramatically.

Bela:                      Right.

Paul:                      I love the [inaudible 6:27] sort of dried cranberry and there’s some fruit there but it’s a little tight.

Bela:                      So usually, before breakfast, I never drink wine.

Paul:                      Oh.  I’m sorry because your pallet is best between 9 and 11 in the morning.  That’s the deal.  You know it’s got great mouth feel and it’s not that overly spicy Malbec.  It’s got a lot of wonderful tangs in the finish but at mid pallet, it’s going to change.  It just, it sits here.

Bela:                      Well, Paul, what we set out to do purposely is to not have a novelty wine.  We wanted this to honor dad.  He was a classy guy.  We wanted a good wine and so we tasted a lot of tasting, we did focus groups, and they made this special blend for me at the winery at Argentina.

Paul:                      So he was [inaudible 7:21] then?

Bela:                      Oh, yes.  He was.  He used to taste wine and buy wines.

Paul:                      Now did he care for Hungarian wines?

Bela:                      Oh, sure.

Paul:                      Yeah. There are some good ones.

Bela:                      Yeah.

Paul:                      I think I told you earlier, we have a…

Bela:                      Egri Bikavér.

Paul:                      Yeah.  Egri, yeah, Bull’s blood.

Bela:                      Bull’s blood, right.

Paul:                      I don’t see that around much.

Bela:                      No.  Maybe I’ll import.

Paul:                      Yeah, you should because it used to be very popular.  We featured some in the club years and years ago.

Bela:                      If I find a good one, because our intent is to go to the famous wine regions of the world and select wine.  So we started here in Argentina starts with an A but we’ll be around Hungary.

Paul:                      You’ll do alphabetical?

Bela:                      Yeah.

Paul:                      You’ll go Bulgarian accent.  Well it’s great to have you here.  If you wouldn’t mind autographing this bottle as we wrap this up.

Bela:                      Certainly.

Paul:                      And what I’m offering to the membership, we have 48 signed bottles from Bella Lugosi Jr.  He’s going to sign right above his father’s signature.  And it’s going to be first come first served.  Get them [inaudible 8:19].  There’s a very eerie feeling around here right now.  I don’t know.  Maybe the thunder will start or rain or something.

Bela:                      It’s sort of hard to sign on a curved bottle but that’s…

Paul:                      That looks pretty good.

Bela:                      But it looks very good.

Paul:                      It is.  And that’s what you’ll be getting.  It’s just a pleasure having you here, Bela.  And thank you so much.

Bela:                      Thank you, Paul.

Paul:                      Cheers!

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