Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Update on Judgment of Paris - The Movie

Steven Spurrier
It all began back in 1976 when British wine merchant Steven Spurrier organized the first Paris Wine Tasting. The event was meant to promote the “best of the best” in the French wine world, but something totally unexpected happened during the gala tasting.

French Judges
Eleven judges from the French wine industry took part comparing four white Burgundies against six California Chardonnay and ranking them in order, according to preference. The same with the reds: four red Bordeaux’s compared to six California Cabernets.

When the final results were tallied the top ranking white wine was a 1973 Chardonnay from Chateau Montelena in California. But you knew that if you’ve seen the 2008 movie Bottle Shock about the judging and the Barrett family vineyard.

Warren Winiarski
But wait, what about the winner in the red wine category? Whose wine won, and why haven’t we heard much about it? The winner was another California winery: Stag’s Leap with its 1973 S.L.V. Cabernet Sauvignon crafted by winery owner and winemaker, Warren Winiarski.

Antinori Family
(Stag’s Leap Winery was sold in 2007 to the  Antinori family of Tuscany and Ste. Michelle Wine Estates of Washington state with the intention of preserving the legacy of Stag’s Leap.)

So now it’s time to tell “the rest of the story.

George Taber
Time magazine journalist George Taber was the only reporter who attended the blind tasting in 1976. He had a front row seat to what went on in front and behind the scenes. Taber’s article was published in the June 7th edition of Time. But in 2005, Taber wrote an award-winning book, Judgment of Paris: California vs France and the Historic 1976 Paris Tasting that Revolutionized Wine that detailed, in depth what occurred during that historic tasting.

Bottle Shock, the movie, focused on Chateau Montelena’s story although according to several involved with the movie, including Bo Barrett, son of Chateau Montelena’s owner Jim Barrett, most of the background dealing with the family was pure fiction. Barrett called it “a love letter to the wine business.”

Alan Rickman as Spurrier
Steven Spurrier
Spurrier and Taber also reported that the movie had little to do with real life regarding the winery or the event. Spurrier said he was insulted by the manner in which he, and his business, were portrayed in fictional incidents. Spurrier has also said that the movie contained “many, many pure inventions.” So Spurrier and Taber set out to get the real story, (based on Tabor’s 20005 book and historic accounts) of what actually happened at the Paris Wine Tasting event; Over 30 years after the blind wine tasting was held.

Enter screenwriter Robert Mark Kamen, owner and vintner of Kamen Estate Wines in Sonoma, California, who wrote the screenplay for The Karate Kid, Lethal Weapon 3, and Taps. After reading Taber’s book, Kamen decided to write a screenplay based on following the lives of Stag’s Leap founder, Warren Winiarski and founder of the Judgment of Paris 1976 event, Steven Spurrier, or as the webpage states it: “The story of two men, two dreams, one passion.”

Jonathan Rotella
Naples Florida businessman Jonathan Rotella grew up as a fan of the Karate Kid and later, Kamen Wines. After reading Kamen’s screenplay, Rotella said he wanted to help make the movie. Rotella Productions was formed and the two men began considering ways to raise the capital necessary to fund the film.

Bart & Daphne Arajuo
Rotella decided to seek additional investment in the film and auctioned off a walk-on part in the movie during the Auction Napa Valley held in June. The winners were Bart and Daphne Arajuo of Napa with a bid of $140,000. Beside the walk-on role, the Arajuo’s high bid also bought them a private tour of Stag’s Leap, complete with cave tour and VIP tasting; lunch with the winemaker and the main principles of the story; dinner with screenwriter Robert Kamen, and a few bottle of Napa wine.

Jonathan Rotella and Robert Kamen
Rotella and Kamen are currently seeking “accredited investors” (as such term is defined by Rule 501 of Regulation D under the Securities Act of 1933) who can verify their status in accordance with applicable law.”

Kamen and Rotella believe that the timing on this movie could be perfect – In 1976 the California wine industry grossed $300 million; in 2013 the California wine industry grossed $23-billion.

Rotella Productions is billing the movie: “The Greatest Little Wine Story Never Fully Told … Until Now.” Check out the Judgment of Paris trailer  for a sneak peek. To keep up-to-date on the latest about the movie, follow Judgment of Paris, the Movie on Google + or visit the Judgment of Paris website for more info on investment, and the movie.

No firm date for the actual release, although sometime in 2014 is still being reported. For now, I suppose we need to pour another glass of Cabernet and see what develops …

~ Joy