Monday, January 21, 2008

ABCs never knew what hit them

Some time ago there was a lot of excitement over the fact that there are two competing films being made in Hollywood about the same event, The Judgement of Paris.

I'm sure that if you are reading this site you are already acquainted with this story. "Shock! Horror! Respected wine judges select Californian wines above French in blind tasting!"

It probably seems strange to people starting out on their wine discovery journey today that there was a time when 'New World' wines were struggling for recognition (although the term "Fine Wine" is still very much dominated by French wines). However, 1976 saw a sea-change. I won't bother commenting further on this here as it has been done to death before and will be again once these films come out.

I thought I'd comment on the films themselves. Much will be said in the official wine journals and blogs about how closely or not these reflect the actual event. I think this article covers most of the common points.

What I think is interesting will be the fact that 98% of those who watch the films will not care. However, as the Sideways effect has shown, some of the results of a film involving wine can be long-lasting even if unintended.

What I think might emerge from this, and I'm sure that there are plenty of people out there who hope it will, is a rejuvenated interest in the Chardonnay grape.

The first, and probably more light-hearted of the two, is Bottle Shock ("The French Never Knew What Hit Them" - including a tasteful image of wine bombs being dropped on the Eiffel Tower). It will focus on the winning white wine, a Californian Chardonnay from Chateau Montelena. If it gets people thinking positively about Chardonnay again, then this can only be a bonus, but lets hope the film has a little more integrity than the strapline suggests (I'd rather not see another "A Good Year" - it did very little for wine, romance, comedy or even film for that matter).

Let's hope that less detailed historical accuracy is made up for in a plot that engages its audience in a love of wine, wherever it may be from.

The second film is still in the works, but will focus on the winning red wine, the Cabernet from Stag's Leap, and I guess we will have to wait to see more about this, if and when this finally makes it out.

Who knows, but in 18 months time we may be talking about a new ABC movement in consumer drinking patterns. Maybe, instead of Anything But Chardonnay, we might have "Another Bottle shock Convert"


Alastair Bathgate said...

As long as the Americans win in the end eh? Can you imagine Independence Day if the aliens had been entrusted to the Iraqis to defend the earth? I am pretty comfortable with the US ruling the world in most respects but why can't the Europeans just hang on to one or two wine....and irony?

Peter May - The Pinotage Club said...

There's currently reviews in the papers of a book about how to discuss literature that one hasn't actually read.

I think you're giving here a good example of how to discuss films you've not seen. Quote "I thought I'd comment on the films themselves". Umm, yes....

Read the book "The Judgement of Paris" instead -- its jolly readable (albeit a bit padded out. (And yes, I have read it :)

Robert McIntosh said...

Thanks Peter. I have heard mention of that book in fact (something along the lines of; isn't it a bit ironic to actually read it?)

I admit I chose my words poorly. I guess what I should have said is that I prefer to focus on other parts of the reported plot, rather than the historical event it claims to be representing.

I start from the position that Hollywood will never do justice to something like The Judgement of Paris (an Indie film might, but not Hollywood), so I can't get too excited about criticising it for that.

Let's just hope they don't put people off "wine" films.

As for reading the book, maybe that is something to suggest for the new wine book review group to coincide with the movie releases?

Peter May - The Pinotage Club said...

I should have put some smilies in my post; I was writing with a big smile but re-reading it, my comment looks a bit dour...

I reckon since Sideways they've been looking for a wine film to duplicate its success. But of course, Sideways wasn't really about wine. And I can't see them showing one of the Paris, Fray-yence Judges chewing gum while tasting :)

But aiming at a US audience, the idea of upstart California wineries 'whupping the ass' of those uppity ancient cheese-eating-surrender-monkey snobby wineries must have seemed attractive.

Having read the book (yes really)I find it hard to see how a film that would interest a general audience could be made from it -- and stay anywhere near the facts.

But since when did the facts ever hinder movie making, U571 anyone?

(please sprinkle :) generously throughout)