Poor James May. He just wanted to go on a drinking holiday and get absolutely clattered. Oz Clarke, though, wants to turn him into a wine ponce, and the third year
(possibly the best so far) of his trying is currently showing on tv.
May knows chuff all about wine. He sniffs it at Clarke's behest, and stretches himself to describe it as "fruity", and "sort of winey" (sounds about right to me, but what do I know? Am a Ribena girl) before collapsing in snorty, snuffly laughter, much to Oz's disgust.
The pairing seems incongruous. Oz Clarke, at first glance, appears to be a posh, pretentious prig, while James May... isn't. In fact, this may be a good time for a brief aside. Put aquamarine near green, and it looks sky-blue; put it by blue, and it looks like emerald green. And so it is with May - put him next to Clarkson and the Hamster on Top Gear
and he appears to be a gentle, old-fashioned, slightly melancholic classical pianist who has somehow inadvertently stumbled across this car lark. Put him next to Oz Clarke, though, and he appears to be a burping, scratching, slightly boorish, alcoholic, laddy petrolhead.
It shouldn't work... but it does. In fact (and I know this will sound ridonkulous) it may work even better than it does with Clarkson and Hammond. May certainly seems to have more fun, and it's not just to do with being tanked.
The first series has them travelling through France, and there's no friendship at first; they are clearly strangers who find one another a little trying. But as they pootle around in a lovely old Jaguar, they really do become friends. They sup old wines in French chateaus, and taste homemade champagne made in cobbled back-streets, and somewhere along the way, they become very fond of one another and it's genuinely sad when it's over.
So having series 2 in the same box is fabulous. Just wait til you see May's obvious joy at seeing Clarke waiting in the distance as they meet up on a California beach - proof positive that this here is a bonafide bromance. In California they are travelling round in a mammoth great trailer (look for Oz's expression when he realises) and they run with, amongst others, wine-making bikers, and a crazy Iranian in Napa Valley.
They also visit the site of James Dean's death, where an incomprehensible sign has been erected by a Japanese fan.
"He was a rebel without a cause," says Oz sadly.
"He was a rebel without an airbag," comes May's reply.
Series 2 places a little more focus on their relationship, down to their sharing a spoon to eat some Cap'n Crunch, and you realise that while May hasn't changed, at all, Clarke has loosened up hugely; he's actually become the sort of bloke you'd go to the pub to have a drink with... on the proviso that you, too, had an Ozzilator - a wee old whistle James blows when Oz pontificates too much about the plonk.
This review has become far too long already, and am worried I've failed to explain how indescribably wonderful Oz and James is. Wine tasting seems to involve using too many adjectives so in that spirit: Oz and James's Big Wine Adventure is sunny, funny, happy, relaxing, feel-good, surprising and joyful, with chubby, nutty low-notes.
Buy it buy it buy it.