What do you get when you cross Jurassic Park, Mission Impossible, the most recent Indiana Jones with a tale of fraud in fine wine? The apparent answer is: the movie version of The Billionaire’s Vinegar: The Mystery of the World’s Most Expensive Bottle of Wine.
According to Variety, the superb wine book now has writer/director David Koepp on board the movie version. With those action movies under his belt, the odds of a chase scene in the movie now stand at 2:1. The main question is whether they will be running with bottles of 1787 Lafitte in hand.
When I previously posted about the book, I wondered if they would amplify the tiny role that women occupy in the book. And even before that, we were speculating about casting decisions. Add your new thoughts if you have any!
As with the Capote movies and two movie versions of the Paris Tasting, there were at one point last year two productions happening around this juicy tale of bling and fraud. This version seems to be inching closer to becoming reality.
Cara, who runs the green room (or whatever that waiting room is called) for Fox Business, asked me a great wine question when I was on the station in December. Instead of asking me for a specific wine that she might or might not be able to actually find, she asked me for on how to get the most out of wine. Nice! Context! You know I love that.
So I asked her whether she meant actually consuming wine or finding wine. She said both. So here’s what I said:
1. Spend a little extra on good stemware! You don’t have to break the bank since, undoubtedly, the glasses themselves will break at some point. But they can elevate modest wines and do fine wines the appropriate justice. Ravescroft has some good crystal stems starting at $10. And our house staple, as I’ve written before, is the Tritan Forte, which is “impact resistant” thanks to titanium infused in the lead-free crystal.
2. Find a good independent wine shop! You can read all you want about great sounding wines on blogs or in the paper but unless you can actually try the wines, your fun is severely limited. Work with an articulate member of the staff to find wines that you like.
You can read more about these suggestions–and more!–in my new book A Year of Wine: Perfect Pairing, Great Buys, and What to Sip for Each Season. If Cara asked you for your top two general wine tips, what would you tell her?
Also, the first segment I did on Fox Business over the holidays has just unearthed from the great video vault somewhere (although the poor audio and video quality makes it look like I was in a witness relocation program). “Enjoy!”
Have you ever wanted to sip wine at a movie theater? Perhaps taste along with the show in Ratatouille or Sideways?
Well, wine geeks in Vancouver know how to go to the movies. (And I’m talking about Vancouver, Washington, not that other eno-gastro-hub further north). The Cinetopia offers a wall of Enomatic machines, those self-service wine machines that dispense one ounce at a time after a swipe of your card. Over 100 “world class” choices are there for your tasting prior to the movie in one ounce pours.
And if you feel a little parched during the show, bring your wine in and there’s a waiter who can serve you food during the film! For more details, check out the promotional video. And tell me which wine you’d have with popcorn. I’d opt for Champagne.
Could it really be true that David Beckham bought his wife Victoria (fka “Posh”) a winery in Napa for (only) “seven figures” for her recent birthday? So reported the Sun in the UK. Apparently the couple got into wine while he was playing for Real Madrid and, now living in California, may have taken the plunge. However, the fact that it remains unobserved in wine circles makes me skeptical that it really happened. But let’s talk about it anyway!
A columnist on MSNBC later reported on other reporting, looking for a motive:
“David feels like Victoria needs something to do other than shopping and going to parties,” a source told Full Disclosure. “He is hoping she will get into the wine business and settle into some kind of regular routine.”
Ouch! SFLuxe.com throws cold water on the idea of their buying a property, instead suggesting they bought into The Napa Valley Reserve. A $150,000 deposit buys the right to purchase wine, from a half a barrel to three barrels. Members can be as involved as they like, picking grapes off the vine (in stilettos?) or punching down the cap.
What should be the name of their wine? The Sun suggested Chateau Posh, describing it as thin bodied.
The fantastic tale involving a tremendous cast of characters and some possibly fraudulent bottles from the collection of Thomas Jefferson has not one but two–TWO!–interested parties in making this a movie. (story on Decanter, the wine site with the most obnoxious advertising ever.)
Excellent 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, vengeance, and bling! The only thing missing is the love angle but I’m sure Hollywood’s finest screenwriters will be able to work that in when they get off the picket line.
So let’s do our own casting call. I outlined some of the characters in an earlier summary of the story. Will Smith is reportedly involved.
Potentially fraudulent seller, with a hidden past: Paul Giamatti. Back for another wine role! No, wait, Johnny Depp!
Potentially complicit, eager auctioneer: Ian McKellan. Or take it down a few decades with Hugh Grant.
Flashback to Thomas Jefferson: Nick Nolte! Back again, and with wine…
Hired detective: Chris Cooper
Billionaire sheriff: Clint Eastwood. No doubt. But this is probably the part that Will Smith wants. That could be fun too.
Love interest: Catherine Zeta-Jones. Could merge my previous suggestion about the wine heist quite easily here.
And major congrats to renaissance man Ben Wallace (er, wait, this Ben Wallace) on selling the movie rights before the book has even been published! And to Patrick Radden Keefe for selling movie rights to a magazine article! I’m happy to sell movie rights to a blog posting.
SIPPED: Freddy boy
If there were no Fred Franzia, would journalists have to invent him? In this story, the man behind Two Buck Chuck swears, slams all wine over $10 a bottle, mocks the concept of terroir, and relieves himself near his car–all in the first paragraph! Business 2.0 lapped it up talking about his “wars” and why he has an Enya CD in his Jeep. [Business 2.0, now defunct]
SPIT: Blind tastings
Eric Asimov writes “maybe as wine drinkers we’re all a little more grown up now and don’t need to taste blind all the time.” Indeed! Three cheers wine evaluation without numbers! [The Pour]
SIPPED: Gringo vino
Are Americans finally heading to Argentina to make wine? Fortune Small Business found a few. I hope they read my article from January about the pitfalls! [Fortune SB]
SIPPED: Bambino vino
Gabriella writes up her experience taking 55 elementary school kids on a winery tour in Spain. Could this ever take place if it were in America? [Catavino]
SIPPED: green wine
Whole Foods rolls out an “organically grown” wine in a tetra prisma! [Seattle dbusiness]
The grape, spit in Sideways, will get it’s own defense on the silver screen with a new documentary. Key question: will anyone notice?
SPIT: The greenback
The US dollar falls to 15 year lows. Say hello to more expensive imported wine–and wine travel overseas!
(Photo credit: Fair use is made here of a reduced-size crop from a larger image in Business 2.0 attributed to Michael Kelley)
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.