Kicking off the anticipated addition to the cult SOMM series, garagiste wineries gathered to pour their wines and shake the hands of potential new customers.
The likes of Tantalus, Kitch and Winemaker’s Cut along with others, poured reserved and special blends to begin the premiere.
The third installment of the series consists of three story-lines that are blended together, bringing some of the biggest names of the wine world to recreate the historic Judgment of Paris where Stephen Spurrier held a blind tasting and brought Californian wine to the table against some of the best top wines from France in 1976. The Californian wines he buried in the tasting won and shook the wine world.
The movie opens with suspense building quotes from different experts about blind tastings and their opinions on them, explaining that they are highly competitive experiences.
Smoothly the film transitions to the wine industry and how wine is now a $220 billion dollar business in the U.S. and that it was illegal to make wine until 1933. The film states that it’s only in the last century that people learned how to manage and create wine.
To recreate the Judgment director Jason Wise enlists the best in the business: Jancis Robinson who created the one resource of wine, The Oxford Companion to Wine, in 1994 and has gone on to become one of the most respected wine critics in the world.
Fred Dame is introduced as one of the best blind tasters in the world, and “competitive as hell.” Dame is the father of the restaurant wine list and the man that made the sommelier profession what it is today. The audience roars at his humorous jabs throughout the film as he lightens the mood exponentially through his quips.
Spurrier is also introduced as the ‘champion of the underdog’ which hearkens back to his planning of the Judgment of Paris 42 years ago.
Spurrier searched through California to find the smaller family owned wineries instead of the already established Robert Mondavi Winery. Clos Du Val, from Napa Valley’s first vintage of wine made it to the table at the Judgment of Paris.
Cutting to the second story-line of the movie, master sommelier Dustin Wilson heads up the recreation of the Judgment of Paris, but this time at a table in New York City and with Pinot Noir with ‘some of the best tasters’ from around the world.
Suspense builds in the audience while following Wilson’s careful planning of from bottle selection to the order to serve them in. As the tasters describe their notes and interpretations of each wine, visuals of strawberry gummies in a glass, having wine poured over it is refreshingly mouthwatering.
But the camera work, with its unexpected zoom-ins and outs, the camera’s inability to follow the conversation with continuity and overall shaky nature is enough to inspire sea sickness, distracting from the weight of the tasting and is impossible to ignore as a viewer.
The third story-line of the movie is the second recreation of the Judgment of Paris in the film where Wise hosts Robinson, Dame and Spurrier with the top three wines from the tasting in New York.
It leaves the judges to select their preference of the three wines decided upon in the blind tasting in New York, tying the threads of the film together, but where more shaky camera work follows the tasting between the wine legends.
The movie is groundbreaking in the wine world and for wine lovers alike that are looking to learn more about wine and its recent history. However, go in with your sea sickness band because it’s going to be a bumpy ride.
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