Alan delivers another brilliant performance in this true to life tale of two men, Steven Spurrier a British wine critic and sommelier in Paris, who travels to California's Napa Valley in 1976, and Jim Barrett the owner and vintner of the legendary Chateau Montelena vineyards, played by Bill Pullman . Pullman is another underated great actor who can bust a serious dramtic move, just as easily as he can do a comedy role. Together, they make this a charming and funny film.
Balancing out this dynamic duo is Chris Pine of recent "Star Trek" fame. He has a devilish smile and a layed back attitude towards things, that makes it hard not to like him as a person and as an actor. Chris takes on the role of Bo Barrett, Jim's son, who appears as a lazy irresponsible drifter, but turns out to be the impetus and driving force that keeps the vineyard from the brink of destruction. The relationship between father and son is well played out by the well turned in performances of Pike and Pullman, very convincing and very endearing.
The story is based on the true events when in 1976 Steven Spurrier invited 12 American Vineyards to participate in a blind wine tasting challenge against the top wine makers of France. In a shocking upset, the Americans took the top honors in two categories, which opened the doors and changed the world's impression that the French were the sole experts on winemaking.
Rounding out the cast are Freddie Rodriguez ( Six Feet Under) as Gustavo a mexican farm hand who has a wealth of experience and wine flowing in his veins, Rachel Taylor (Transformers) as the gorgeous intern that lends a helping hand to creating a legend, and one of my all time favorite character actors Dennis Farina who plays Maurice, Spurriers neighbor and aide de comp.
It is a definetely a must see, and if you are a wine enthusiast I recommend buying the DVD or at the very least checking out the extras. The offer up some great background about the Montelena Chateau vineyards, and a pretty extensive explanation of what goes into making a great wine.
It's a fun film, with great passion about a little vineyard on the brink of failure, that ended up making history!