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Auckland, North Island, New Zealand
Wine tour operator, wine writer and lapsed physiotherapist. "Nature abhors a vacuum. I personally hate dusting."

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Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Bottle Shock - movie review

Phil operates wine tours around Auckland NZ.


This is the wine movie – all about the famous ‘blind’ tasting competition in Paris in 1976, where both Californian Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon beat the best of the French appellations.

Oops – gave away the plot. Anyway, it’s a widely known story – so no surprises as to the final outcome, but it is an enjoyable ride – with some solid performances by a good cast.

Alan Rickman plays Steven Spurrier, the British wine snob owner of a Parisian fine wine shop, who ventures to California to see if their wines are worth drinking. Rickman’s upper class, woodwindy nasal monotone delivery is admirably suited to the cynical know-all character.

Spurrier arrives in Napa Valley in 1976. Cue appropriate mid 70s soundtrack - Doobie Brothers, Harry Nilsson et al.

On his travels in a particularly unreliable hire car, he eventually meets Jim Barrett (Bill Pullman) whose winery - Chateau Montelena produces Chardonnay. Jim’s ne’er do well hippy son Bo (Star Trek’s Chris Pine who is either having a bad hair year or is wearing a bad longhair wig), has a strained relationship with his dad as they struggle though the winery’s deep financial doodoo and the fallout from his parents’ divorce.

The B plots here relate to the foreman Gustavo (Freddy Rodriguez), a Mexican farm worker’s son secretly making his own wine. Plus, there's a love triangle between blonde and willowy Sam (Rachel Taylor), a UC Davis viticulture graduate student, and Gustavo and Bo.

As Spurrier organizes the "Judgment of Paris," with his selection of Napa reds and whites, Jim melts down from his own bottle shock, while Bo realises that all is not lost.
All up, kind of formulaic, but it’s a true story and insight into the day that French wine fell off its gilded perch for once and for ever.

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