Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Bottle Shock a great movie and a fantastic movie about winemaking!



Don't believe a single negative review - and there are more than a few of them out there - about the new movie Bottle Shock - because it is great!

Based on the true story of an historic tasting showdown between French and Napa Valley wines that took place in Paris in 1976 - with the upstart Californians winning the battle - this fictionalized film will appeal to wine lovers and those who just want a movie that tells a good story with humour, drama and interesting characters.

The price of the movie is worthwhile if simply to watch Alan Rickman's portrayal of British wine educator/merchant Steven Spurrier, a somewhat out of place Englishman in Paris who comes up with the idea of a contest between the snobby French wineries and the in-the-dirt, struggling young Californians.

Rickman is hilarious, but he also captures a wine snob learning that his horizons have been foolishly limited by focusing only on French wines.

The movie is solely about Chateau Montelena, which won the white wine top prize with its 1973 Chardonnay, beating out top crus from Burgundy in the blind tasting in what Time magazine called "Judgment of Paris."

An uptight father versus hippy son drama may be exaggerated for theatrical purposes but Bill Pullman as Montelena owner Jim Barrett and Chris Pine as prodigal son Bo Barrett - now Montelena's winemaker - is probably too close to home at times.

Throw in a love interest attractive blonde wine intern, a dedicated Mexican-American winemaker and a foppish American expatriate in Paris who urges Spurrier on in his quest, add a great soundtrack of Doobie Brothers, Foghat, Bad Company and other rockers of the 1970s and you have a vintage movie about wine.

There are quibbles of course - like only mentioning in the credits that the fabulous Stag's Leap Wine Cellars pulled off the equally impressive win in a red wine competition at the same time, or that regrettably Chateau Montelena hasn't exactly been a dominant winery in Napa Valley despite that early success.

But for all other than hard core winos these are insignificant points.

Bottle Shock - don't miss it!

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