Winery Has a Sexy Disclosure to Make
One of the most memorable appearances in “Disclosure” is made not by stars Michael Douglas or Demi Moore, or even the spectacular office set. Rather, it is of Jason Pahlmeyer’s wine, presented in the film as an extremely rare vintage, which ends up playing an important role in the plot.
Pahlmeyer, a 49-year-old former attorney who owns a tiny vineyard in the Napa Valley, produces only two kinds of wine--one red, one white--but his Chardonnay is about to become one of the most highly touted wines in the world, compliments of Hollywood.
A bottle of 1991 Pahlmeyer Chardonnay, of which only 400 cases were produced, is highly praised in the film, and it plays a pivotal role in the sexual-harassment case around which the film’s plot revolves.
It’s the kind of publicity corporate wineries would gladly give big money to a studio to get.
In Crichton’s novel, there is no mention of a specific brand of wine shared by the lead characters, Tom Sanders (Douglas in the film) and Meredith Johnson (Moore). Instead, a key plot point involves Johnson’s assistant buying a box of condoms along with the wine.
Screenwriter Paul Attanasio said that he and director Barry Levinson decided against making condoms pivotal to the film. Still, Attanasio said, he needed something “that could put a chink in Meredith’s armor.”
“I needed a piece to turn the tables on her,” he said. “I remembered reading about the ’91 Pahlmeyer Chardonnay and how it was a great Chardonnay but that they only made 400 cases of it. I tried to get it and I couldn’t.”
Except for some upscale restaurants, Pahlmeyer ships mainly to select wine shops, and then only a few cases at a time. Retail cost is about $24 a bottle.
Attanasio said that Demi Moore somehow managed to find a magnum of ’91 Pahlmeyer Chardonnay and gave it to Levinson. “That shows you how resourceful she is,” the screenwriter said. “Barry is hoarding his magnum. He’s not sharing it with the rest of the cast.”
Born and raised in Oakland, Pahlmeyer was a trial attorney with the U.S. General Services Administration and later had a private practice. In 1975 he bought a 55-acre plot in Napa Valley and decided to start his own vineyard.
“I call my Chardonnay ‘industrial-strength Chardonnay,’ ” Pahlmeyer said. “I want it big, rich, buttery and powerful. It should be drunk all by itself.”
And what if the demand for his wine goes up because of the movie?
“You’re not going to see an increase in production,” Pahlmeyer said. “I can’t and I won’t increase it--I don’t want to spoil a good thing."*