Friday, January 24, 2014

Bottle Shock (2008) [PG-13] ***

In 1976 there were barely a dozen established wineries in the Napa Valley including Chateau Montelena, which had been originally established before the turn of the century and was owned and managed by Jim Barrett (Bill Pullman), a San Francisco attorney turned winemaker, with the assistance of his son Bo (Chris Pine).

But, in 1976, an opportunity arrived in the person of Steven Spurrier (Alan Rickman) a British wine merchant living in Paris. Spurrier had conceived of a blind wine-tasting competition, between French and California wines, on the bicentennial celebration of the American Independence. Spurrier visited the Napa Valley vineyards, selected the best wines, transported them back to Paris and held the competition, later called the Judgement of Paris. And the rest is history; Chateau Montelena took first place in the whites with a Chardonnay and Stag's Leap Wine Cellars took first place in the reds with an S.L.V Cabernet Sauvignon. And the Napa Valley was finally on the wine map of the world. 

While there are credible lead performances from Pullman, Pine and Rickman, good supporting performances from Dennis Farina, Freddy Rodriguez, Rachael Taylor and Eliza Dushku, and while the cinematography is gorgeous, the uninspired screenplay, sloppy direction and terrible editing clearly identify this film as a low-budget, independent production. In addition, while the Barrett family participated in the film production, Warren Winiarski of Stag's Leap Wine Cellars chose not to participate, so the film focuses almost entirely on Chateau Montelena and ignores Stag's Leap. Nevertheless, if you appreciate wine, and if you've enjoyed stories about the wine country and wine making, films like A Good Year, A Walk in the Clouds, French Kiss or Sideways, then you'll likely appreciate Bottle Shock

Labels: comedy, cross-cultural, drama, winemaking

Internet Movie Database
Metacritic 56/100
RottenTomatoes Averages (critics=56, viewers=68)

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