Dancing with the (All-) Stars Week 10, Part 1: 2009 Cru Monplaisir, Bordeaux, France

 

Well, here we are—the finals! Aside from Gilles’ absence, which is still ludicrous, the best dancers made it to the final—a testament to the fans that, overall, vote based on the quality of the dancing. Sure, we had to endure a few more weeks of Bristol Palin and Kirstie Alley than we should have, but in the end, the wheat was separated from the chaff, and the cream rose to the top—how’s that for mixing metaphors? It was a great final with all three couples delivering at least one truly top-notch dance, and only one couple actually delivering two. Right now, I have a better average than Stub, since two of my top three are in the final three. His only option for a win is Melissa, and, as much as it pains me to say it—seriously I am experiencing actual physical pain or maybe it’s the pain in advance of the inevitable bragging that would accompany his win—but Stub may have called this one from the beginning. If people vote based solely on the quality of performance in the final, Melissa Rycroft should win.

The Dances

Kelly Monaco/Val Chmerkovskiy

Paso Doble Redux (Judges’ Score: 29.5)

Freestyle (Judges’ Score: 29.5)

Combined Score: 59

Kelly and Val

The Rib: Their “redo” Paso Doble was outstanding save for the missed hand-off at the beginning, which was a shame. The movements were sharp and powerful, and Kelly’s lines and turns were fantastic, as was her costume. Still, a “10” symbolizes perfection, and this dance was not perfect; therefore, I reject the “10” given by two judges. A fault is a fault…period. At the other end of the spectrum was the misguided attempt to reprise the Dirty Dancing final number. Really? Maybe it’s the fact that, on many occasions during my childhood when I was awakened at 5:00 am to go to the racetrack, my mother had that freakin’ movie playing, but I thought this dance was a mess. The best thing that I can say about this dance is Kelly’s girls looked awesome. From Val playing violin, to Kelly’s aerial silks work, to the choir and other dancers, it was all over the place with some very awkward transitions into the lifts. Sorry, Kelly, the only trophy that you will go home with is Val. I predict third place for you.

Stub: Kelly’s Paso Doble was amazing! It was sharp, crisp, intense, and passionate! I loved it! That missed hand grab out of a spin was obvious, but this dance was so good it hurt! Great timing and beautiful lines (and curves, if The Rib is right about Kelly’s “girls;” I didn’t notice myself…). I’m happy she received two “10s,” but a half point off is more than fair given the obvious (although slight) mistake. In the Freestyle, Kelly’s silk work to start the routine was beautiful. And I like the fact that Val was actually playing that violin instead of using it as a prop. He’s a “double threat!” Given the opening sequence, I was expecting a lot from this dance. Too bad it disappointed. It just fell apart. I felt like I was in the middle of a Tim Burton/Federico Fellini brainstorming session. I’m also not sure what the “super-sized” really meant. I really wanted to like this, since Kelly has more than impressed me this season, but this dance seemed ill-conceptualized, awkward, and a bit rushed at times.

Melissa Rycroft/Tony Dovolani

Samba Redux (Judges’ Score: 30)

Freestyle (Judges’ Score: 30)

Combined Score: 60

Melissa and Tony

The Rib: Their “redo” Samba was excellent—from the cool opening trick to Melissa’s amazing lines and hip action. She is adorable and gave a great performance with her smokin’ body! However, her true dance skill and desire to win was most apparent in the Freestyle contemporary dance. Her strength and musicality were showcased to maximum effect. Kudos to you, Melissa—well done! If we are judging solely on the final performances, you should, indeed, finally get your mirror ball trophy tonight!

Stub: The “Bad Boy of Ballroom” was pissed in that pre-dance video package! He’s ready to take this to the house! And boy did he and Melissa deliver on that Samba! This girl’s limbs are just effin’ perfect! And the frame they’re attached to ain’t too shabby, either… This dance was cheeky and fun, but technically perfect, too. For their Freestyle, Melissa and Tony pulled off what I thought was maybe the best dance of the season. It was just beautiful! I actually got a little misty-eyed during the opening sequence. I could go on about how amazing this dance was, but you all (hopefully) saw it, and I don’t want to define or label something that turned out to be such a beautiful artistic expression—this dance should stand on its own as not only amazing, but moving, as well.

Shawn Johnson/Derek Hough

Quickstep Redux (Judges’ Score: 27)

Freestyle (Judges’ Score: 30)

Combined Score: 57

Shawn and Derek

The Rib: I have a real bone to pick with the chipmunk. Their Quickstep “redo” was a terrible choice that was not nearly as well executed as it was when it was originally performed. They knew they broke the rules the first time but did nothing to remedy the choreography in this go-round…naughty little chipmunk! Although she played the good teammate and backed Derek’s call, we know from the pre-dance package that she questioned that call—and deep down inside, in the places she will surely need to talk about with her shrink once this show ends given her inability to define herself outside a competitive environment—and it may well cost her the win. Now, the Freestyle on the other hand was littered with elements that no other dancer could deliver—huge tricks and the “Fierce 5” 2012 Summer Olympics Gold-medal winning gymnastics team. The beginning sequence was bad-ass—her core strength is ridiculous! I liked the dance montage concept of taking pieces from their various dances this season, but overall, there was too much flipping and not enough dancing. Still, if you did not vote for Shawn, the FBI is likely on their way to your house to ask you a few questions, because clearly you must hate America. Six Olympic champions in the routine didn’t get you to vote for her? Really, just relinquish your passport now. Seriously, though, if Shawn loses, Derek is to blame; if they played by the rules, the mirror ball trophy was a lock! I am not sure if their fan votes can help them overcome the three-point deficit to beat Melissa and Tony.

Stub: I was not liking where this was headed from the opening video package before the Quickstep. Disrespecting the process once? We can let it go—their score suffered a bit for it. But twice? With the exact same dance? Boo! Fool me once, shame on me; fool me twice, well, won’t get fooled again! I think Derek had a pretty big episode of hubris this week. Cures include: getting horrible scores in the finals and losing the new and improved mirror ball trophy. On top of all of that, the dance wasn’t near as good as it was the first time. They were a bit out of sync and tentative. The first performance of this routine was amazingly entertaining (even though it wasn’t a “proper Quickstep”). This performance paled in comparison, and I think the “27” was a bit of a gift. Awful choice that almost guarantees a Melissa win. As for the Freestyle, I will say this: sorry Shawn, but the “Fierce 5” was a cheap add. And winning a reality celebrity dancing competition is not near the same as winning Olympic Gold. I think you may need a sports psychologist more than a great dance instructor/partner. All that said, I loved the opening sequence of the Freestyle. Shawn is more and more looking like an actual grown woman and is even managing to look “hot” vice “cute” at times. While this Freestyle was impressive, it was more gymnastic entertainment than it was dance. I liked it, but didn’t love it.

The Wine

2009 Cru Monplaisir, Bordeaux, France

2009 Cru Montplaisir

Well, this was a wine I noticed on the shelf of my favorite local wine shop. As I’ve advised many over the last year or so, picking up an unknown Bordeaux from the 2009 vintage—at any price point—is not much of a gamble. Why a Bordeaux for this evening? It’s the perfect blend (kinda like the DWTS finalists) and rarely disappoints (kinda like a cougar).

The Cru Monplaisir is a 75% Merlot, 20% Cabernet Sauvignon, 5% Cabernet France blend that retails for about $22.

On the nose, there was cherry, oaky awesomeness, a little leather, and a little earthiness. And it was all big!

On first sip, I felt like I was licking a new leather saddle covered with cherries. The wine showed some nice cedar notes on smooth tannins. We opened this wine an hour or so before tasting, but didn’t decant. After the first few sips, we poured this bottle through the Vinturi into a decanter, which helped open it up a bit.

Even over the two hours or so after we opened this bottle, it was a bit tight. I returned the wine to its bottle and sealed it up so we can experience it again with dinner tonight. We’ll report back with further details of the Cru Monplaisir tomorrow (when we’ll also discuss the nice little Champagne we’ll be enjoying this evening).

I am excited to see what this wine did in the bottle overnight. It showed great promise and I hope it lives up to its potential…

Takeaways

We kinda did this in our individual dance critiques, but I’ll summarize here: Kelly is a great little dancer and has improved by leaps and bounds over the last ten weeks, and she hearts Val; Shawn is a natural athlete who can make her body do the craziest things imaginable, has matured a bit, and maybe has a few sessions with a psychologist in her future; Melissa is an adorable “girl next door” who not only showed that she has the technical chops to win, but also the will to win. The Rib and I are looking forward to the last “insta-dance” round tonight, the “Dance Center” bit, and the awarding of the new and improved mirror ball trophy. And a fine Champagne. Don’t forget the Champagne!

Until tomorrow…

Cheers from the Ballroom at CorkEnvy,

Stub & The Rib