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Delhi Wine Club
Authentic Judgement of Paris to be Produced

Posted: Saturday, 08 June 2013 11:33

Authentic Judgement of Paris to be Produced

June 08: ‘Judgement of Paris’, written by the Hollywood screenwriter Robert Kamen, will be produced by him and an Italian businessman Jonathan Rotella, with the backing of Steven Spurrier who organised the famous blind tasting of 1976 in which a Chardonnay and a Cabernet Sauvignon from two Californian wineries Chateau Montelena and Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars beat the top French counterparts in Burgundy and Bordeaux.

Click For Large ViewThis version is expected to be the authentic one, closest to the historical event as it has the backing of both Steven Spurrier who had then a wine school and was a wine merchant in Paris and organised the tasting, and George Taber, the only journalist invited to cover the event. “Filming is due to start in September, and this time it’s going to be the true story,” Spurrier has toldthe drinks business.

Known for his work in the action genre, Kamen has written more than 20 blockbusters, including The Karate Kid, 1, 2 and 3, Lethal Weapon 3, and the Taken trilogy. He has also made romantic films like A Walk in the Clouds. His latest co-scripted movie, Brick Mansions, is already in production since February this year and is expected to be released in May 2014.

A London-born man from Eton, the 32year-old Tom Hiddleston, who starred in the movies Thor, Avengers and in Woody Allen’s Midnight in Paris as F. Scott Fitzgerald, is widely tipped to play Spurrier in the film. How does Spurrier feel about ‘Hiddles’ playing his role? ‘My son, who writes for TV, and his partner Christine Langan who is creative head of BBC films recommended Tom Hiddleston and I must say I would be flattered to be played by someone so handsome!’ he tells delWine.

The first film about the Judgement of Paris, Bottle Shock, was released in 2008 and starred Alan Rickman in the role of Spurrier. While it was being made, Spurrier threatened to sue the movie producers for defamation, saying he found Rickman’s portrayal of him as “an impossibly effete snob” deeply insulting and a gross misrepresentation. "There is hardly a word that is true in the script and many pure inventions as far as I am concerned,” he had then said

The widely respected Spurrier, who I have had the pleasure of meeting on several occasions, had obtained the draft of the screenplay late and was not happy about his own portrayal as an English snob in 'completely invented incidents'. He was based in Paris in 1976 and owned Academie du Vin where he developed an idea to educate Parisians - not on French wine but on the new wines coming out of California.

Steven, who seems to be soft spoken, unassuming and humble in real life, had then told delWine, 'I'm extremely angry at the deeply insulting and inaccurate way my business and I were portrayed,' He had in fact hired a London law firm to write to Randal Miller, director and co-screenwriter.

Click For Large ViewExplaining the happenings at the time of making of the movie, Spurrier tells delWine, ‘Bottle Shock was part-financed by the Barretts (Jim and his son Bo) at Chateau Montelena, as they correctly assumed that a movie could not be made on both wines. Over the years Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars had beaten Mouton-Rothschild and Haut-Brion and took most of the publicity. So they financed the script and basically made their own movie,’ he further adds, ‘I always maintained that, apart from the name of their wine and its vintage, my name and that of my shop and wine school, there was nothing much of truth in Bottle Shock. I had my lawyers contact the producers’ lawyers to complain about various fallacies in the script and these were changed. When the movie opens and the title comes up, right underneath is the phrase “Based on a true story”, so they pretty well admitted that it was fiction in the true Hollywood style,’ he tells delWine.

The current version of the movie which was apparently shelved at that time in 2007 despite the reports of its going on the floor is based on GeorgeTaber’s account of the 1976 tasting in which Californian wines unexpectedly trounced their French counterparts. Kamen’s screenplay will reportedly focus on Steven Spurrier and Warren Winiarski, the Polish-American winemaker of Stag’s Leap in the Napa Valley at that time, who was  responsible for making the red wine that took top honours in the blind tasting in Paris.

Kamen describes the script as an “American dream” story. On his part, Spurrier says, ‘I think that this movie has a good chance of being made. I met Robert Kamen about 5 years ago, when he was working on the script which never got made due to Bottle Shock getting in the way. Robert Kamen’s script is basically about Warren Winiarski and his dream to make wine in California. I am the “facilitator” and the movie shows my dream to become a successful wine merchant in Paris. Warren’s dream and mine coincide and the result was the Judgement of Paris.’

Click For Large View‘It’s a good script, but the actors will have to be good to pull it off,’ Spurrier cautions though.

Like many of the other Hollywood producers and actors like Francis Coppola, Drew Barrymore, Brangelina (Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie) bitten by the wine bug, Kamen also owns Kamen Estate Wines in Sonoma, which he bought in 1980 after selling his first Hollywood screenplay. Interestingly, like the red protagonist of the movie he also specializes in red wines, especially Cabernets. His most expensive Cabernet Reserve is called ‘Kashmir Cuvee’ and sells for $145 and may be a Bottle Shock to some. Made entirely from  Estate grown grapes from different  blocks on the Southern Mayacamas Mountains, with a low yield of 1.5 tons/acre, the wine released in February this year can be matured for another 25 years though it is already drinking well, according to Kamen.

His love for Kamen’s wines brought Jonathan Rotella, an American businessman of Italian descent, to Kamen and they became good friends. Kamen is also a close friend of Winiarski which makes telling the story correctly all the more important. “I’d really like to see this done right for him,” says he.

While our viewers will reserve the Judg(e)ment of the ‘Judgement  of Paris-the movie’, wine lovers all over the world would curiously await to watch what might be the first film, the authentic version.

Subhash Arora

Tags: Judgement of Paris, Steven Spurrier, Chateau Montelena, Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars, Bottle Shock, GeorgeTaber, Warren Winiarski, Napa Valley, Kamen Estate Wines, Kashmir Cuvee



Subhash Arora Says:

Thanks for your comments David. I agree with you wholeheartedly. He is one of the finest persons I have come across in the wine world. As I noted in my article,'Steven, who seems to be soft spoken, unassuming and humble in real life...,' he did not deserve the treatment he got in the movie. I do hope this movie takes off in September and his character is more true to life in it. Cheers. Subhash

Posted @ July 02, 2013 16:50


David Banford Says:

Having known Steven for over 25 years, and having worked with him on helping to develop the wine culture in India, I can reassure readers that Steven is anything but an 'elitist snob'. I know of no-one who is happier to roll up his sleeves and engage with wine enthusiasts at all levels discussing the merits of any and all wines, answering questions on an individual basis, however naive, until the wee small hours of the night - and relishing each and every interaction. If the movie is entitled Judgement of Paris, and his name is used, then surely he has the right to ask for some historical accuracy? His brand is at stake.

Posted @ July 02, 2013 16:48


Cosmacelf Says:

Spurrier missed the point of Bottle Shock entirely. First, how many movies celebrating wine have been made? The movie should have been embraced by wine producers/fans alike as helping educate the world about great Californian wine. Second, the movie is entertaining! It is a coming of age story, a father/son relationship movie, funny, romantic and so much more. Dismissing the movie as not historically accurate kinda reinforces the view of Spurrier as an elitist snob, doesn't it?

Posted @ June 10, 2013 12:17


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