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Bottle Shock

4.4 out of 5 stars 640 customer reviews

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(Feb 03, 2009)
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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

Based on a true story; Bottle Shock chronicles the events leading up to the famous Paris Tastings of 1976; wherein Napa wines bested the exalted French wines in a blind tasting and put California wines on the map for good. The story is told through the lives of father and son; Jim (Pullman) and Bo Barrett (Pine); who founded Chateau Montelena in the early 1970s and whose Chardonnay went on to win what was eventually coined "Judgment of Paris." Jim Barrett; who had been a successful real estate attorney previously; is emblematic of the California vintners' spirit mavericks who had come to Napa on a quest to make world class wines. Bottle Shock is many things: the story of Steve Spurrier (Rickman); an unwitting British wine shop owner in Paris whose publicity stunt set the stage for a paradigm shift in the wine world; a father and son story as Jim and Bo overcome their differences to save Chateau Montelena from creditors and what they think is an entirely ruined vintage; a romance between a young beautiful university student (Taylor) who came to learn the wine business first hand and wound up falling in love with a vintner's son who was just coming of age; and finally; the story of a young Hispanic vintner (Rodriguez) just branching out on his own. Against the backdrop of the turbulent 70's and in the shadow of the French who had dominated the world's viticulture and viniculture for centuries; these "hicks from the sticks" rose up for California; for America; for wine. And the world of wine was never the same.

Amazon.com

"Bottle shock" describes what can happen to wine as it travels from place to place. Set in 1976, Randall Miller's widescreen docudrama concerns the real-life showdown between California's wineries and their French counterparts. Napa Valley's Jim Barrett (Lost Highway's Bill Pullman) has been plugging away for years with minimal success. A former attorney, Barrett runs Chateau Montelena with his wayward son, Bo (Chris Pine, the Star Trek prequel's Captain Kirk), who would rather do anything than assist his stern father. Bo's co-workers include Gustavo (Six Feet Under's Freddy Rodríguez) and Sam (Transformers' Rachael Taylor), who long to produce the perfect chardonnay. Naturally, the young men compete for the favors of the beautiful blonde (the movie's least interesting angle). Across the Atlantic, Steven Spurrier (Alan Rickman) struggles to keep his Parisian wine shop going (cheapskate American Dennis Farina is his only regular customer). Then Spurrier conceives a contest to attract customers; surely, his beloved French growers will put those upstart Yanks in their place. He flies to Napa to look around, and persuades the Barretts to compete. Miller and his wife, screenwriter Jody Savin, previously worked with Pullman and Rickman on Nobel Son, but decided to release Bottle Shock first. Though comparisons to Sideways will be inevitable, the filmmakers take more of a historical look at California wine country. The "Judgment of Paris" changed the face of the business forever, and they've found a lively way to recount the tale. --Kathleen C. Fennessy


Beyond Bottle Shock


Sideways

Juno

Little Miss Sunshine



Stills from Bottle Shock (Click for larger image)


     


Special Features

None.

Product Details

  • Actors: Alan Rickman, Bill Pullman, Chris Pine, Dennis Farina, Freddy Rodriguez
  • Format: Multiple Formats, AC-3, Color, Dolby, NTSC, Subtitled, Widescreen
  • Language: English (Dolby Surround), French (Dolby Surround), Spanish (Dolby Surround)
  • Subtitles: English, French, Spanish
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: PG-13 (Parental Guidance Suggested)
  • Studio: 20th Century Fox
  • DVD Release Date: February 3, 2009
  • Run Time: 110 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (640 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B001LPWGBY
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #626 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Bottle Shock" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: DVD
Before a (then) little known Paris wine tasting in 1976, most people had no idea that California was producing world class wines. That changed when a British ex-pat in Paris organized a wine tasting of the best French versus the best Californians - against all expectations, California won both best red and white and nothing in the wine world has been the same since.

This drama/light comedy follows the true story of the travails of the winning white (Chardonnay) winery leading up to the competition. There is lots to enjoy here including a struggling small business story, an evolving father-son relationship, the comeuppance of an arrogant industry, and of course, a love triangle. The movie is well cast (and very well acted) with Bill Pullman as the business owner father and Alan Rickman as the snobby Brit amazed to find that good wines can be found this side of the Atlantic.

In the final analysis, this is a feel good movie, suitable for the whole family with the proviso that kids under 10 might get bored in places.
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I saw this movie when it first came out, and then put on a tasting party based on the wines they drank in the movie. People had a great time watching the movie while drinking some of the same wines from the famous tasting (newer vintages). It is true that a lot of artistic licence has been taken, so if you care about the real facts, read The Judgement of Paris (excellent book). However, there are some hilarious lines, Alan Rickman is fabulous, and the scene of the tasting itself is a must for anyone that cares about wine. Personally, I would fast forward through the love-triangle scenes ("Jules and Jim" this film is not). Any wine lover who doesn't see it because of the negative comments about it not perfectly following the facts will be missing out on a very enjoyable film.
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Format: DVD
I'd never heard of this film, which was offered on a recent flight overseas. Given the other movies offered, however, it looked appetizing enough, and I'm glad we tried it out.

Here, we meet again Alan Rickman (best-known for his role in the Harry Potter film series, as the snarling and sinister Snape). This time, however, he's Steven Spurrier, an amusing British dirty blond, the middle-aged proprietor of a failing Paris wine-tasting "academy," ahem, business. His exceedingly poor French pronunciation earns him a snub from even the sommelier at classiest City of Light annual vintners' event: He is nearly rejected at the door, and upon indignantly showing his ticket, is seated at the last table in the rear, by the swinging dining room door.

We also get another surprise performance from Dennis Farina, most famous for his hardened cop character in Law & Order. Here, as Maurice, Farina plays a gauche New York transplant to Paris, an acquaintance of Spurrier who proposes that the latter stir up business by hosting a wine tasting to pit French wines against the best that California has to offer. The thinking is that California will naturally lose, big time.

But everyone in France, at least, is astonished by the outcome. Along the way, viewers also witness fine character acting by California winery owner Jim Barrett (Bill Pullman) and his post-Woodstock generation son, Bo (Chris Pine).

A thoroughly enjoyable romp through a 1976 true-life story---or a story at least based on true life. American ingenuity wins, again.
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Format: DVD
I saw this movie on a trans-Pacific airline trip and it is fabulous! If you survived the seventies and love wine, this is for you. Of if you're just an Alan Rickman fan, you'll like it, too! Really a fun, fun movie and makes me want to spend a year's salary to buy a bottle of 1971 California Chardonnay!
2 Comments 33 of 37 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
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It was one of those movies where I REALLY wish it had a better director and/or writer. There was a interesting story to tell there, but the director and scriptwriters muddied it up.

There are good solid performances all around. Alan Rickman was his usual fine self as the Brit living in France who comes up with the idea of the event. He's droll, dry, and sarcastic. Renting the film is worth it for his performance alone. Bill Pullman is very stoic and tightly wound as Jim Barrett, the winery owner who has staked everything he owns on the little-winery-that-could and is having a financial melt-down. Chris Pine, dressed in classic mid-70's garb and hair, is the ne'er-do-well useless son who is finding his place in the world. Freddy Rodriquez, a favorite of mine, is very good as Gustavo and just about steals the story. Dennis Farina plays himself, but "himself" is always an interesting guy <g>

The film is set at a time when all of the wineries didn't have big showrooms and didn't even charge for tastings--and wine is a whole $6 bucks a bottle! But the basic story is a good one, and although they have fictionalized much of it, the wines were made and they did win. Following that, a small article in Time magazine brought Napa and its wines to a wider consumer base.

The problem is that the screenwriters included a fictional character to support a unnecessary fictional love story. Also problematic is that the script actually makes the secondary characters more interesting than the lead characters. For example, there is a secondary storyline about the winemakers assistant, Gustavo (although oddly, the winemaker who actually created the winning wine isn't even mentioned - what's with that?).
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