Top Gear's overgrown boy racer, scruff bag and beer drinker James May knows nothing about wine. Award winning wine writer and critic Oz Clarke, on the other hand, is one of the world's leading authorities on wine. The first season sees TV's oddest couple drive through some of France's most beautiful wine regions, while the second season sees them travel to California USA to taste what the Americans have on offer. Oz's mission is to educate and excite James about wine.
The odd couple are reunited on Muscle Beach where Oz won the World Wine Tasting Championships in the 1980s. His bubble is soon burst when James reveals his vehicle of choice for their road trip, a 42ft monster motorhome which they will share for four hot, cramped and sweaty weeks.
The duo visit three champagne producers in northeastern France. They meet a champagne-maker who shares James' love of vintage cars, and a man who makes wine in his back garden. Oz also tests James to demonstrate how much he has learned.Watch Now:Amazon
Oz Clarke attempts to educate Top Gear presenter James May about the pleasures of drinking wine. The first episode begins in the Bordeaux region, where the skeptical student learns to appreciate the nose on individual bottles, and tries to talk his way through a tasting session at ultra-posh Château Pichon Longueville-Baron. After Oz witnesses James embarrass himself, his next lesson takes them back to the basics of the winemaking process, from harvesting to crushing to bottling. James creates his own wine along the way and inflicts it upon an unsuspecting public with a blind taste test.Watch Now:Amazon
Oz and James return to the opulent Napa Valley. James is dismayed that Cabernet is a trophy to be paraded here, rather than a wine to be drunk and enjoyed. But at Bill Harlan's estate, a vinery making fine wines that regularly get ratings of 100/100, he concedes that he may have become a wine snob. As they drive home in the now-battered RV, they discuss where their next adventure will take them.
The duo tour the San Francisco Bay area in a classic British Mini and receive a history lesson as they visit vineyards more than 100 years old. They learn about the impact of Prohibition, and James is impressed when Oz finally finds a notable American wine that is both affordable and accessible.
They meet Mike Benziger, owner of an organic estate. He maintains an insectry, where he breeds insects to eat the lesser bugs that damage his vines, and a sceptical James is silenced when he tastes the wine. Next, they visit the Gallo estate, a producer of affordable wines that flood the international market. Their hostess, Gina Gallo, is charming, but Oz and James sour her hospitality by having another argument.
Arriving at the glamorous Napa Valley, they are dismayed to discover that they're staying in the car park. The pair argue about who will empty the RV's waste tank, then sample Californian champagne at the Tattinger estate. Next, the Schramsberg estate, where the quarreling continues with a heated debate about what bubbles taste like. Frustrated, James rents a Mustang Shelby to get them out of the hated RV.
Oenophile Oz Clarke takes novice James May around California's wineries. They have arrived in the Santa Cruz area. Tension mounts between the odd couple when James crashes the RV. The bickering continues at Randall Grahm's New World vinery, which produces what James sees as yet more over-priced, inaccessible wine. James gets his revenge when they go to meet 'two-buck-Chuck', whose wine factory churns out bottles for only two dollars.
The duo head to Alsace and Burgundy for a lesson on barrel making, and ‘terroir’ - a catch-all way of describing the many factors that can influence the quality of a vineyard. Oz then takes a skeptical James to meet one of Burgundy’s most celebrated winemakers, Thierry Beaumont, to sample Burgundies from Thierry’s three separate terroirs.Watch Now:Amazon
Oenophile Oz Clarke takes novice James May on a month-long trip around California's wineries. In this third episode, Oz and James are on the coastline of Monterey County. All manner of non-wine tasting related activities ensue, including muscle car racing and rifle shooting with an eccentric millionaire.
The pair visit an oyster farm in Montpellier and a bull-fighting festival in Beziers, as Oz attempts to prepare James for his challenge of cooking a meal and finding the best wine to match it. James finally thinks he's making progress when he learns an important fact about dessert wine, but baffles everyone with his choice of dish for the challenge.Watch Now:Amazon
The Rhône Valley provides ample opportunity to learn about different grape varieties. However, the world-renowned winemaker Michel Chapoutier provides an obvious distraction for James with his classic car collection. The father and son team of Domaine Viret, Alain and Philippe Viret, extol the benefits ‘cosmoculture’, a mystical approach to grape growing involving the harnessing of the cosmic energy of the sky. Former French rugby international and winemaker, Gérard Bertrand, challenges James to blend his very own wine using a variety of grape extracts.
Oz Clarke's attempts to educate James May about the pleasures of wine take them to California's outlaw country, where Jesse James hid and James Dean died. The Top Gear presenter is impressed by the wine and its rebellious makers, but most excited by the Harley he uses to tour the second vineyard
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