smaller event was, in its way, no less impressive. In a blind taste-testing held in France, the wines of California’s
Napa Valley defeated the best the French had to offer — and all the judges were French! A bottle of the winning
American vintage, it is said, now rests on exhibit in the Smithsonian Institution.
“Bottle Shock” is a charming fictionalized version of the victory, “based,” as they love to say, “on a true story.” Shot i
n California like "Sideways" but set much closer to the earth, it tells the story of a struggling vineyard named Chateau Montelena, deeply in debt with three bank loans. It’s run by the hard-driving Jim Barrett (Bill Pullman), who despairs
of his layabout, long-haired son Bo (Chris Pine). By Roger Ebert
“Bottle Shock,” takes us back to the days when men wore loud plaid suits and people who were serious
about wine sneered at the very mention of California. Sticking reasonably close to the historical record, the
director, Randall Miller (who wrote the screenplay with his wife, Jody Savin, and Ross Schwartz), reconstructs
a watershed moment in the wine world’s acceptance of the Golden State and, eventually, of many other non-
French viticulture regions.
There are, indeed, at least two underdogs hungering for triumph. The first is Steven Spurrier, played by Alan Rickman, whose parched low voice and air of beleaguered pomposity are never unwelcome. Spurrier is a British wine dealer
vainly seeking a way into the French oenological establishment. Well-trained and sensitive as his nose may be, it’s
always pressed against the glass.
The blind tasting is a stunt he cooks up with his friend Maurice (Dennis Farina), an expatriate from Milwaukee, whose rough manner and garish clothes belie a sophisticated palate. At Maurice’s urging, Spurrier makes his way to Napa,
where Jim Barrett (Bill Pullman), a lapsed lawyer from San Francisco, fondles grapes, quotes Hemingway and tries
to transform his life of bourgeois normalcy into a Steinbeck novel. A perfectionist and something of a blowhard,
Jim takes to the boxing ring to settle arguments with his long-haired son, Bo (Chris Pine).
Bo, along with his pal Gustavo (Freddy Rodriguez), who is one of Jim’s employees, and Sam (Rachael Taylor), a
head-turning new intern at the vineyard, represents a new generation of irreverent countercultural wine connoisseur.
Le Vigne Winery
5115 Buena Vista Dr.
WITH THE PRODUCERS
AND BE A PART OF
ALL FESTIVAL PASS
HOLDERS WILL TASTE
AND HAVE A JUDGE CARD
Steven Spurrier: Alan Rickman
TO QUALIFY FOR THE
JUDGMENT AT PASO
1216 Park Street