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Ms. At The Movies: Pairing Women & Wine With Females & Flicks, March 2015



You’re probably reading this article, checking out this website, because you’re a lover of films. As am I! Movies have the power to transport us to new worlds. They can be escapist or thought-provoking. Bring tears of sadness or tears of laughter. We love to sit around and celebrate our favorite films of the year, and the stars who created them. Nothing celebrates our favorite flicks of the year more (arguably) than the Academy Awards. Unarguably, nothing frustrates me more than when I feel the Oscars snub a truly deserving artist. It is, therefore, with great pride and guilty pleasure that for this month’s featured film, I chose SELMA. But who I’m really choosing here, is director Ava DuVernay.

When considering a wine to sip on while watching this film, it actually came pretty easy to me. SELMA is about struggle and passion. The path of SELMA for Ava DuVernay has, likewise, been filled with struggle and passion. I needed a wine that could empathize. A wine that could hold its own and withstand conflict. What better wine than the 2012 Titolo Aglianico del Vulture from Elena Fucci. Just wait for it, this one’s a doozy…

SELMA is the story of a movement. The film chronicles the tumultuous 3-month period in 1965, when Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. led a dangerous campaign to secure equal voting rights in the face of violent opposition. Ask director DuVernay, and she’ll tell you, “…it’s really about a rag tag group of radicals who got together and amplified their voice for change, and in doing so, they really changed the country.”

2012 Elena Fucci Titolo Aglianico del Vulture

2012 Elena Fucci Titolo Aglianico del Vulture

Winemaker Elena Fucci has shown to be relentless in her pursuit to ensure that her Titolo wine represents the territory from which it comes from, the pristinely beautiful and lesser-known region of Basilicata in southern Italy. And more importantly, from the Titolo lava channel of Monte Vulture – aka – at the foot of an extinct volcano.

– Ava DuVernay on what SELMA is about

Yup, when her family opted to sell the 4th generation family vineyard, Elena wouldn’t have it. She opted to completely change the plans she had for her future, invest in the area, and go to school to study oenology. The proof is in the pudding. Or in this case – the proof is in the glass when you savor the bouquet and taste of this unique Aglianico wine. Due to the mix of volcanic lava and ash in the soil (otherwise known as “pozzolana” – say THAT at your next dinner party), Fucci’s Aglianico grapes are forced to struggle for water…for survival. And what results is an intensely structured, deep, and dark wine. The nose yields aromas of plum, blackberry preserves, rosemary, and tobacco. The palate is immediately decided; dry and full-bodied with firm tannins, and a long finish. In addition to dark cherry and ethereal spices, you can almost taste the rocky minerals from where this wine came from. You can taste the wine’s history. Elena’s powerful voice expressing this unique land and this noble grape come radiating through.

The power of voice is something director Ava DuVernay has not struggled with….or has she? Despite the fact that she is the first black woman to be nominated for Best Female Director at the Golden Globes, and despite the fact that she is the first female black director to have a film nominated at the Academy Awards for Best Picture, she wasn’t the first choice to direct the film SELMA. She also wasn’t the 2nd, 3rd, 4th, or 5th choice either. DuVernay has been at the brunt of significant controversy regarding the film’s depiction of President Lyndon B. Johnson and for her co-writing the original screenplay (since she was not given the rights to any of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr’s actual speeches). And yet, what has erupted is a bold and unapologetic triumph in cinematic storytelling.

The truth marches on. Ava DuVernay has created an epic movie centered on the people of Selma. And Elena Fucci has created an engaging wine centered on the terroir of Titolo. It doesn’t appear that they are stopping anytime soon. They can’t. They have a history to tell and a future to create.

“IT HAD TO LIVE AND DIE ON WHAT I WANTED.”    – Ava DuVernay                    

 “IT CANNOT WAIT.”     – David Oyelowo (as Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.)



Elyssa Phillips






– Elyssa Phillips

Elyssa Phillips

About Elyssa Phillips

A native New Yorker, Elyssa has been acting since the age of 5 (she still owns the red dress with the black bow from when she played Annie at the age of 6). After studying at the British American Drama Academy in England, and graduating from The University of the Arts in Philadelphia, Elyssa spent her time performing around the country in various theatrical productions....from Shakespeare's "As You Like It" and "Measure For Measure", to the long-running improvisational comedies "Tony 'n Tina's Wedding" and "Shear Madness"...with some other tricks of her trade along the way. Elyssa is a house performer, writer, and producer at The Pack Theater in Hollywood. Her most recent TV credits include "Silicon Valley" and "The Mindy Project".