Bottle Shock

First Hit: This film brought some light to a true event that shocked the wine world.

In 1976 bottles of a white and red wine from Napa Valley each won a blind taste in France.

Until then wines from the United States were frowned upon because they didn’t have the development history of the wines made in Europe, specifically France.

The film chronicles Steve Spurrier (played by Alan Rickman) an English wine merchant who lives in Paris and is struggling to make his business make money. His shop is next door to another expatriate, from the United States, that runs a tour agency.

The American pushes Steve to come up with a gimmick to make his business sizzle. Steve comes up with the plan to have a blind wine taste off and include Napa Valley wines. He travels to Napa and goes from winemaker to wine maker looking for wines to bring back to France to compete in the contest.

The other story is based in Napa Valley Chateau Montelena where a father and son (played by Bill Pullman and Chris Pine respectively) are almost broke trying to make a perfect Chardonnay.

Their story is a little contrite and includes an intern Sam Clayton (played by Rachel Taylor) who we know will fall in love with the son by the end of the film.

What I liked was the portrayal of the Napa wine producers as down to earth people who knew what they were doing but didn’t require the air of authority displayed by the French. Most of them were poor and weren’t selling much wine. I do remember when the newspaper headlines announced the results of taste test. From that point on, Napa wine was sought after and the wine makers started to make money. Today they still create some the very best wines in the world. There was a 10 year anniversary of the taste test with another tasting. And, again the Napa Valley wines won the competition therefore solidifying the greatness of Napa Valley. I would have appreciated more wine history and wine making details.

Overall: It was an amusing film and I liked it. I thought Alan Rickman was good as the droll arrogant Englishman.