For connoisseur Steven Spurrier, there's no finer art than French wine despite rumours that the new California wine country holds the future of the vine. Positive the small Napa wineries are no match for established French vintages, Spurrier challenges the Americans to a blind tasting. But when he finds the valley full of ambitious and talented - novice vintners like Jim Barrett and his son Bo, he realizes his publicity stunt may change the history of wine forever.
There are people who will frown at you if you tell them you are a smoker. There are also not smoke, but he does drink quite a bit. But because he isn’t the wealthiest amongst his friends people who will frown at you if you tell them you are a drinker. Well, this reviewer does, he gulps down bottles of beer when he goes drinking with his friends. Sure, there are purists who believe that holding and swinging a glass of wine in the hand is so much more refined than holding a mug of beer in the hand, but this is really about the moolah. So pardon this reviewer if he doesn’t appreciate the finer aspects of wine appreciation in this Randall Miller directed movie about, well, well, well, what else but that fine liquid called wine.
The 109 minute is tells the story of how Steven Spurrier, a wine steward (a rare occupation by local standards) in Paris visits the Napa Valley (a scenic but ahem, rural place to capture those warm and fuzzy images) so that he can source out the best to bring home for a blind taste test. There, several adventures happen, and other than sourcing out the true fine wine, human relationships are tested, and yes, love will be found too.
To viewers who are not too interested in wine appreciation, this may be just another movie which showcases the nice vineyards in France, with a linear drama thrown in to have a story going. Once in a while, you may be overwhelmed by the pretty visuals, and go along with the story line – but how long can that last you? To the seasoned movie watcher, the drama is but another been there done that story which has protagonists making it big by the end of the movie.
Which is a pity, because the story is based on a true account, and the inspirational tale behind this must have been somewhat lost within the movie’s tiresome storytelling approach. This leaves viewers with the cast’s commendable performances, from Alan Rickman’s (Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix) effortless portrayal of the protagonist to Chris Pine’s (Star Trek, Smokin’ Aces) youthful injection into the movie.
Of course, if you are into wine appreciation, you’d understand the terms used in the movie, and welcome how the movie brings you to the origination of the liquid you swirl in your wine glass. If you are a beer drinker like this reviewer, you may want to look elsewhere.
SPECIAL FEATURES :
This Code 3 DVD contains no extra features – they may have made viewers more interested with some knowledge about wine appreciation.
The disc’s visual transfer is nothing top notch, and the movie is presented in its original English dialogue.
by John Li