It's never fun, being led down a rabbit hole. But that's where I was recently taken when one of my posts turned out to contain some shoddy journalism. My only defense is that wine bloggers are seldom called upon to exhibit investigative reporting skills. So we get rusty.
You see, I'd reported in late July that there were two movies in the works about the famed 1976 Paris Tasting. This was the blind tasting where French judges rated several California wines higher than some of their best Bordeaux and White Burgundies, putting California wineries on the map for good and launching the New World style of wine.
I'd reported that one of the movies (calling itself the "official" version) involved the original journalist covering the event, while the other version "had been commissioned by one of the winning wineries - Chateau Montelena". I gleaned my information from a posting by the normally august Decanter magazine. (You can see reader response to the movies in the poll copied below, or here, if you receive this via a feed).
Then the fun started. A couple days later I received an email from Jeff Adams, Marketing Director for Chateau Montelena. Jeff's tag-line these days seems to be "We make wine, not movies." He politely set me straight about my statement that the winery had commissioned the movie. But in so doing he piqued my curiosity with regard to how the idea was conceived - "if not you, then who(m)?"
He could shed no light on my question (see his tag-line, above) but was kind enough to refer me to the film's publicist, Nadine Jolson of Jolson Creative. After several days of missed calls, I finally caught Nadine from my car while on the wine road. She indicated the idea grew out of the fertile mind of screenwriter Randall Miller (who also directs, produces and edits this film, according to IMDB.com) "He came up with the idea completely independent of the book and other movie on the same topic - in fact, he started the screenplay before the book 'Judgment of Paris' came out two years ago."
Apparently, the screenwriter saw a good family story (in the sense the TV show "Dallas" was a good family story? Only time will tell) as he learned details about how the famed event affected relationships between Barret family members. "But how did the Barret's feel about this story? Did they contribute to it? Is the film a reflection of their perspective?" I asked.
Nadine is well-trained in media relations, and her talking points did not include answers to such questions (and really, why would a movie's publicist have knowledge of such things anyway?) So I have no further insight to offer on the origins of the idea. Did it take seed during a wine-fueled conversation between the Barret's and Miller? Are they old friends? Or did the idea occur during one of Miller's pilgrimages to Napa, much as it might to any wine lover?
Until and if I ever speak with Miller, we'll never know. Right now I can report that Bottle Shock film crews have descended on Calistoga and its environs (sites including, interestingly enough, Kunde Winery over in Sonoma, according to publicist Nadine Jolson) and that filming is well underway. So it appears "Bottle Shock" will be in theaters well in advance of "Judgment of Paris", the other movie based on the Paris tasting. And when Bottle Shock hits theaters, if it's any good at all, demand for Chateau Montelena will likely spike. Again. Consider yourself duly warned.
Cheers, Dave Chambers, Wine Merchant
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