The Chronicle had a good story on recent developments (read: drama) surrounding the production of “Bottle Shock,” the first of two in-the-works films about the famed 1976 Judgment of Paris, where a Chateau Montelena Chardonnay and a Stag’s Leap Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon beat out their French counterparts and shocked the wine world.
Thing is, this one — call it Judgment Lite — is only about Chateau Montelena.
According to W. Blake Gray’s story and an early draft obtained by the Chron, the filmmaker (Randall Miller, “Noble Son”) never so much as mentions Stag’s Leap or the fact that the competition even had a red portion. Isn’t that ridiculous?
Then again, this IS Hollywood. And in order to get their version out sooner, I can see why they’d take the easier way out, focusing on sexy controversy and some pretty embarrassing events that aren’t even confirmed. I’ll explain. Read on.
You’ll recall that Mike Grgich was at Chateau Montelena at the time and actually made the winning Chardonnay. And ever since he left in 1977 to start Grgich Hills, he and Barrett have disagreed over who should get credit for the Judgment winner.
Personally, I’ve never understood the disagreement. Winemaker’s make the wine. They get the credit. It’s like the difference between directors and producers in the film world. It’s kind of pathetic that a feud as old as me is carrying on to the silver screen so the world outside of our wine bubble will think this industry is a bunch of tannic infighting.
If you’re still interested, here’s the gist of this screenplay: Bill Pullman stars as Chateau Montelena owner Jim Barrett while Alan Rickman, of “Harry Potter” fame, plays Steven Spurrier, the British wine merchant who organized the tasting. Grgich appears briefly in the beginning but has no lines because his role is pretty much left out of the movie. Filming began this week in Sonoma and Napa counties and runs through early September.
Personally, I’m looking forward to the competing script by veteran screenwriter and Sonoma vineyard owner Robert Mark Kamen. His story is based on George Taber’s book, “Judgment of Paris,” and from what I’ve heard, it tells the WHOLE story of the American Dream in Napa Valley. So Grgich, a Croatian immigrant, is featured prominently, natch.
Rumors are swirling that everyone from Danny DeVito to Keanu Reeves will play him at some point in his life. Whoever the actor, he’s got to know how to rock that beret. They’re behind; Kamen’s still writing and I’m sure with bigger names, casting is a longer stickier process. But if they’re telling the whole story, including the reds, I’m more interested in seeing this version.