Bottle Shock – 2008 Directed by Randall Miller
Bottle Shock is a film that follows Steven Spurrier, who owns a wine shop in France, and his journey to bring wines from America to the French palate. Based in 1976, with his wine store failing, Spurrier chooses to coordinate a wine tasting with several individuals who are high up in the viniculture in France. In order to bring flair to the tasting he decides to go to California and bring several wines back with him to include in the tasting. Once in California, Spurrrier starts his tasting at Chateau Montelena. This Chateau is run by Jim Barrett, and his irresponsible son Bo. Jim has over extended himself with his Chateau and is really on his last rope in making this a success. He instructs Bo to take Spurrier to the other local wineries, because the community is tight knit, and one wineries opportunity is all their opportunity. As Spurrier goes from winery to winery he is caught off guard with how well the wines are. As his journey comes to an end, he chooses thirteen wineries that he take two bottles from and take back to the tasting in France. Jim refuses to allow Spurrier to take his bottles, as Jim is certain this is some big trick and Spurrier is only trying to humiliate the American on their Bicentennial. Through the movie Jim and Bo are consistently at each other’s throats, as Jim does not believe Bo is growing up, and is causing him more agony then helping him with the vineyard. As a last ditch effort Bo runs to the airport to get Spurrier two of Chateau Montelena’s bottles to enter into the tasting. As Bo comes home from the airport he finds his father who looks like he has lost it, in the barrel room; with hundreds of bottles around him, he informs his son, that their pride and joy, their beautiful chardonnay, is now brown. It tastes perfect, but has turned the color brown. Jim is fed up with his failure of a venture and has a truck come pick up all five hundred cases of his brown chardonnay, and take it to the dump. Bo and Jim’s apprentice Sam, go to a neighbor vineyard to get their opinion on the wine and what went wrong. There they learn that the wine is at a stage that is temporary, and only occurs when a wine is literally perfect. The problem is the wine is just about to go into the French tasting, and will Bo be able to get there in time to ensure its quality. Who will win the tasting?
Based on a true story, I appreciated every aspect this movie brought to the viewer. In general to this day wineries and people who enjoy the quality of wine are thought of as snobbish. This movie shows you how back in the 70’s California was just a little area that enjoyed producing wine, but did not have the snobbish views the French did. Historically this event put the French in their place and showed them there is other competition out there.