I stumbled upon this little gem of a comedy a number of years ago, and every so often, I will throw it on in the background. The dialogue is top notch, the pace is just right and the soundtrack is extremely catchy.
The movie retells the story of when Californian wine broke through to the international scene in the mid 1970′s when it won against a blind tasting contest in France, arranged by British wine merchant Steven Spurrier.
Steven Spurrier, played by the excellent Alan Rickman is a wine snob, with a shop in Paris, who is on a mission to teach the world on the wonders of the fermented grape. Next door, he has an American friend, Maurice, who runs a sight seeing taxi firm, played by Dennis Farina in a suit that can only be worn in the 1970s. Maurice plants the idea into Spurrier’s ear that American wine is ready to break through and he could be the one that introduces it to the world.
Great wine is great art, my friend. I am, in effect, a shepherd… whose mission is to offer the public another form of great art and to guide its appreciation thereof.
No offense, but I don’t foresee the imminent cultivation of the Chicago vine.
Not convinced, he trots off to California’s Napa Valley to choose a number of wines to represent the American’s in the wine tasting contest.
There we see the story of one of the vine yards,
Chateau Montelena, run by Jim Barrett (Bill Pullman) and his son Bo (Chris Pine). Throw in a very sexy Australian intern, Sam (Rachael Taylor), and Gustavo a young Mexican who is living a dream of making his own wine played by
Jim Barrett is 3 loans in to the bank, a begrudged loan from his ex-wife and on the brink of losing everything. He needs this year’s crop to work and sell. As you would expect, doesn’t quite go to plan, but I am not going to spoil the story here by detailing what.
The term bottle shock is explained beautifully within the movie, when Spurrier attempts to fly back 26 bottles of wine. It refers to a condition when the wine is shaken too much, it can actually change the flavour of the wine, most likely to its detriment.
Bottle Shock post dates that other excellent wine themed movie, Sideways from 2004. Though, the difference here is that you don’t feel inundated with lots of facts about wine making that may get in the way of a great story.
The music is good, the scenery stunning, the wit and dialogue spot on. Rickman truly steals the show with his slow English snobbery drawl.
If you want a good movie that escaped its deserved place in the mainstream then you will not go wrong taking Bottle Shock out for a run.
Monday, 31st August 2015