Gotcha moment spawns yet more controversy

The wine world is full of great “gotcha” moments especially when it comes to blind tastings. One of the great gotcha moments in wine was the fabled “Paris tasting” in 1976 when American wines, poured blind to French judges, defeated similar French wines. It had a lot of ramifications including the ascent of American wine onto the world stage and the rise of the blind tasting for many critics.

Does it sound like there’s the makings of a full-length feature film in there to you? Quite frankly, I fail to see how there’s enough material in the event for movie–it’s a critical event, sure, but one moment in a larger, more interesting story about wine, wine consumption, and wine production.

But that must be why I am not a Hollywood executive since there are currently two separate–and rival!–productions to portray these events on the silver screen. One version, “Bottle Shock,” supposedly begins shooting next week with Alan Rickman as Steven Spurrier, the Englishman who organized the original tasting. Danny DeVito will play Mike Grgich, the Croatian immigrant who made the winning chardonnay and is also know for effectively pulling off a beret. Yes, this means DeVito will be filmed wearing a beret! (I think he can pull it off.) And with the endorsement of Grgich and Jim Barrett, owner of Chateau Montelena, since they favor this version of the events.

Another production, “The Judgment of Paris,” has Spurrier’s official endorsement as well as that of George Taber, the author of the book of that name based on his reporting for TIME magazine (originally a four paragraph story). They’re still looking for a lead, with Hugh Grant and Jude Law “rumored.” (No word on who will wear the beret in this version) And now various parties associated with this film are threatening to sue “Bottle Shock.”

Thirty years later, the tasting still generates controversy. But in this case, the box office will be the final arbiter. If they don’t both flop, that is.

“Films at war over fall of French wine” [Sunday Telegraph]
Judgment of Paris, George Taber
Emperor of Wine, Elin McCoy

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13 Responses to “Gotcha moment spawns yet more controversy”

  1. Good look to either movie being interesting or fun. Neither would get my money for financing.

  2. If they could just use the judgment of Paris as a piece of a bigger story. Maybe one of the chateaux has a great back story as well as Stag’s Leap and they could show how the different growers came to love wine. It was different in the 60’s. Passion ran rampant. I’m sure there is much to tie into without totally focusing on this one event. This is all very weird. I mean, I get that the U.S. is drinking more wine than ever right now and maybe they are thinking about riding the coattails of Sideways. But they are treading into Spice Girls: The Movie territory.


  3. […] Þetta kemur fram á vef Dr. Vino […]

  4. […] now 78, will stay on three more years in a consultative role–just long enough for the two rival movies about the Paris tasting to appear in theaters! The buyers are Ste. Michelle, a unit of UST, and Piero Antinori, who will […]

  5. OK, it’s never going to be a blockbuster but at least one of them are going to make good money for many reasons – here’s a quick five.

    1) It’s about prestige and elitism: the prestige of wine drinking.

    2) It’s about prestige and elitism: the USA and France are both prestigious countries. (When was the last time you heard a news report about Nauru?)

    3) There’s an underdog who wins. The underdog happens to be America (with huge amounts of entertainment spending).

    4) There’s a niche market, with good chance of cult-status within the group and eternal ordering through the long tail effect.

    5) Product placement? Are you kidding – there’s real money there.

  6. Craig – It seems you think prestige sells in movies? 😉

    Based on what I’ve read so far, I think they’re both likely to be another A GOOD YEAR but if I were handicapping them, the Rickman/DeVito one would have an edge, though they are both long shots.

  7. Yeah, if the basics of scripting, casting and directing are solid then prestige definitely sells.

    Prestigious countries and people are two of the eight things one looks for in a good news story, so I think it’ll work for movies too.

  8. […] the musical? Wine has conquered the silver screen with Sideways and two forthcoming wine movies, and now our favorite beverage turns its sights on Broadway. Michael Green, Gourmet wine […]

  9. […] news! THIS is the wine movie we have been waiting for! Forget Paris 1976. Forget Russell Crowe. This has it all–intrigue, fine wine, possible duplicity, remorse, […]

  10. Actually just saw Bottle Shock at the Maue Film Festival and it’s actually really good! The movie centers around the family of Chateu Montelena (though there’s no DeVito in site) and uses a lot of humor and a great soundtrack to tell the story of the burgoning Califorina wine country. Check out the webite.

  11. So funny Bottleshock has such a heart. I caught the movie at sundance and am going to see it again when it hits the theaters with some of my wino friends…really capture the spirit of wine ! cheers.

  12. Great movie, i loved the blind tasting, and that California wine beats the French wine in a blind tasting. Just like you an tell that California wine is good from a blind tasting, I’d be able to tell this movie was good, just from a blind tasting.

  13. I was very disappointed with the telling of this story. Grgich was completely omitted. If you know Grgich wines you know that is criminal.
    Chateu Montelena could not have won without Grgich !!!
    Mon Dieu !!!


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