Fresh into the start of the Cannes International Film Festival, I cannot help but think of the various films over the years which have featured fine wines, some of which, even making wine their main plot.
In 2004, Sideways brought us into the American wine country, where we followed Miles, a divorcee wine aficionado, and Jack, his soon to be married best friend. Throughout their week-long trip, and their various perils, we especially got to see the Santa Ynez Valley wine country, and Miles gave us an insight into his favourite wines. The film's commercial success, and Miles’ high regard of Pinot Noir while denigrating Merlot, surprisingly affected the sales in the wine industry. That year, Merlot sales dropped by 2%, whereas the Pinot Noir sales increased by 16%, both in America and Britain. This just goes to show how deeply film culture is rooted in our society, probably even more than we would have thought!
As a high point of the movie, Miles is seen drinking a 1961 Cheval Blanc; an excellent wine, rich and lush with tobacco scents, but it is best drunk around now rather than keeping it in your cellar. I only hope Miles was still able to enjoy this fine wine out of his foam cup! Antique Wine Co has a few very nice bottles of this wine currently in stock with levels still in the very high shoulder.
Bottle Shock is another film worth mentioning. Napa Valley is at the heart of this stor
y, where Stephen Spurrier travels to in order to find contestants for his Judgment of Paris taste test. It is there he discovers the Chateau Montelena Chardonnay 1973, which will be the first wine to beat French Chardonnays in the blind tasting test. Unfortunately, even though this incident forever changed the wine industry, and especially Napa Valley, it is almost impossible to find the Chateau Montelena Chardonnay of 1973, as well as the Stags Leap, which had also won at the same competition. A case was ultimately given to the Smithsonian Institute, but the Stags Leap of 2005 is an excellent example that Napa Valley is still a very strong contender.
Finally, even though it did not receive critical success, “A Good Year” directed by Ridley Scott brings us to the Provence region and to the joys of winemaking. Max Skinner (played by Russell Crowe) takes us on the journey from his high powered life as a London securities trader to finally inherit and enjoy from his uncle the finer things in life including the winery and chateau.
Over the years wine has also been featured in many famous movies. Humphrey Bogart enjoyed Veuve Cliquot 1926 vintage in Casablanca, Dom Perignon, Bollinger and more recently Chateau Angelus has been featured in the Bond movies, and my own role at The Antique Wine Company has continually brought me into close contact with the film industry. Two most memorable moments include the occasion when Paramount Pictures asked me to find several bottles of 1912 Top Bordeaux for producer James Cameron and his team including Leonardo di Caprio and Kate Winslet to celebrate their Oscars won for the movie “Titanic”; 1912 being the relevant year. Sony Pictures have also used Antique Wine Company’s vintage gift service on scores of occasions, and I also remember a few hours touring Chateau Latour with Stan Winston, still considered to be the most talented “special effects expert”, a man who certainly appreciates the explosion in every glass of exceptional wine!
During this week I will be continuing my Riviera Radio broadcasts on wine from the Cannes Film Festival, and these are available for download here and best played on our I-phone app downloadable here.