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In 1976, Steven Spurrier, a sommelier in Paris, comes to the Napa Valley to take the best he can find to Paris for a blind taste test against French wine. He meets Jim Barrett, whose Chateau Montelena is mortgaged to the hilt as Jim perfects his chardonnay. There's strain in Jim's relations with his hippie son Bo and his foreman Gustavo, a Mexican farmworker's son secretly making his own wine. Plus, there's Sam, a UC Davis graduate student and free spirit, mutually attracted to both Gustavo and Bo. As Spurrier organizes the "Judgment of Paris," Jim doesn't want to participate while Bo knows it's their only chance. Barrett's chardonnay has buttery notes and a Smithsonian finish. Written by
In-joke: Maurice (Dennis Farina) adds a wry reference to labor issues with film production during Scene 24 (minute 91:54) as guests and judges arrive. He claps his hands and in bad French urges a chauffeur to get moving and park the cars, followed by "Let's go! You're not a Teamster, ya know!" See more »
The Russian Ural sidecar motorcycle ridden by Gustavo was not available in US spec trim as shown in the movie until 1996. See more »
[voice-over during a vineyard pan]
It wasn't always like this. Before Paris, people didn't drink our wine. I mean, my friends did. But you could hardly consider their palates discerning...
Hell, we were farmers... sort of...
[pan to empty bottles of Montelena label and several early twenties/late teens smoking hookah]
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An Inspiring, Delicious, Heart Warming Movie of Wine and Dreams
In 1976 the world of wine had mainly just one country on the map: France.
Quietly Californians had been making pretty good wine that no one, especially the French noticed. Until a British gentleman and oenophile, Steven Spurrier (Alan Rickman) made a competition that changed the world of wine forever.
Entertaining, inspiring, shot on location in the Napa Valley and France, this is a delightful movie, with solid acting, beautiful cinematography and all around sparkling goodness.
Although the script has one flaw, it is for the most part very solid and the acting and directing are top notch. Bill Pullman (wine maker), Alan Rickman, and Dennis Farina (delightful American in Paris) deliver solid performances. Relatively new actors Chris Pine (son of wine maker), Rachael Taylor (love interest) and especially Freddy Rodriguez (Mexican wine maker) round up this outstanding cast.
Randall Miller, the director. has to be commended not only for creating an endearing and lovingly original movie, but doing so in a small budget, and even more taking his creation himself to several cities, after no distributor stepped out, even though the movie had rave reviews in Sundance 2008.
The movie has opened in several theaters in North America, Toronto has been fortunate enough to get it, and I hope a major studio changes it's mind and takes this one world wide, but not to worry the director is finding eager movie theaters anyway.
Enjoyable from beginning to end, a true story that deserved a movie, got one! Go watch it.
Joseph Hurtado from Toronto
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