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
When they pick up Alan Rickman at his hotel, it is the Toscano Hotel which is in Sonoma, not Napa, CA. You can see part of General Vallejo's adobe barracks next to the hotel. You can also see part of the Sonoma Square behind them. See more »
A US Postal carrier delivers a Western Union telegram. The USPS only delivers US mail or mail originating from other countries. They have never delivered telegrams. 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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It's 1976 Calistoga, California. Jim Barrett (Bill Pullman) is desperate to scrap up the money to perfect his chardonnay. His son Bo (Chris Pine) is a lot less patient. Sam Fulton (Rachael Taylor) surprises everybody as the new intern. Gustavo Brambila (Freddy Rodríguez) is the foreman trying to make his own wine, and Bo's best friend. In Paris, sommelier Steven Spurrier (Alan Rickman) has a failing wine shop. He is challenged by his next door neighbor American Maurice Cantavale (Dennis Farina) to go taste some Californian wine. He goes to find some Californian wines to challenge the french ones in a blind taste test. He has a roadside breakdown and Jim Barrett coincidentally rescues him. He is amazed at Jim's wine and the rest of the area wines.
This is a nice charming true story. Alan Rickman has a friendly snotty attitude. He's snobby without being arrogant. I think that's the key. He's actually likable. As for the romantic triangle, I like the hot girl not picking the handsome leading man but then she changes her mind. It's balanced out by an angry Bill Pullman. He provides the little bit of drama in the movie.
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