Saturday, August 8, 2009

Cinema de Vino

I've always been fascinated by the art of wine-making--enology--and I can't imagine a more beautiful place in the world to work than in the Californian wine country. I've wanted to grow my own vines for quite some time, and even considered tilling up half of our back yard to put them in. Alas, we don't plan to be in this house but a few more years. So impatiently I wait, alternatively surfing viticulture websites and Sonoma, CA real estate listings. In the meantime a good movie about wine making will have to do, and I've found a couple for you to find and watch.

Bottle Shock is based (somewhat loosely I'll bet) on a true story. Set in 1976, Napa Valley, and California wines in general, have yet to come of age. Chateau Montelena winery in Napa Valley is run by a father-son duo that couldn't be any further diatmetrically opposed. Dad (played predictably by Bill Pullman) is a perfectionist to fault. Son (played fantastically by Chris Pine) is a stoned surfer dude. In fact their most effective communication occurs in a makeshift boxing ring. Meanwhile in France, a bored wine shop owner (played by the talented Alan Rickman) is searching for a way to drive sales and attendance to his self proclaimed wine academy. The solution? A blind taste test by the finest French wine critics of the finest French wines and the lowly Californian offerings. Clearly the event is designed to embarrass the Americans and further cement the superiority of French wine-making. Rickman travels to California to pick his victims, and when he encounters the Chateau Montelena crew the movie takes off from there. And, as they say, the rest is history.

The movie was quirky and fun, at times nebulous, but never in a bad way. The story is classic David v. Goliath, and boy did I root for our boys. The movie of course fairly glitters with stunning California wine country scenery, which would make it worth viewing alone. This isn't a film for kids, but adults will enjoy it immensely, as I did. I have the movie a B+.

I haven't finished A Good Year yet--my copy from Netflix was badly scuffed and kept freezing. I got about halfway through the movie last night before I just couldn't stand the skipping anymore. My new copy will be here Monday, so I'll finish the film out then. I feel I've seen enough though, to write somewhat of a review. The film follows Max Skinner (played by Russel Crowe) a hotshot London investor. When an uncle dies and Max is presumably left an estate in the South of France complete with a winery and vines, Max travels to renovate the place for a quick sale, and quick profit. Once he arrives he is overtaken by his memories of his uncle, and of growing up there at the winery. What follows is not unpredictable as he encounters the long forgotten wine country lifestyle bent on living life in quality, not quantity. Add in a love interest or two, and I'm betting I know how this ends not having seen the rest of the film yet.

So far I've actually been a tad disappointed with the film. It's felt rushed and twitchy, but perhaps that's intentional. As the man's transformation from hectic to laid back continues, perhaps it will smooth out. Right now, I give the film a C+.

1 comment:

  1. Alas, you don't need vines to make your own wine.
    I'm sure there are homebrew stores in DFW, and right up the road in Austin is one of the biggest in the country, Austin Homebrew Supply.
    Go ahead, bottle up 5 gallons!