That famous wine judging held in Paris in 1976 — putting a number of top California wines against some of the best of France — has been turned into a movie.
It’s called “Bottle Shock,” and it stars Alan Rickman as the British wine shopkeeper who organized the judging, Bill Pullman as the owner of a winery that produced one of California’s big winners, Chris Pine as the owner’s son, Rachael Taylor as an intern at the winery, and Freddy Rodriguez as a winery employee who makes his own wine on the side.
Because the truth doesn’t always make a good movie, some liberties have been taken in the telling of this tale on the big screen. That said, there’s still plenty for anyone who’s interested in wine to love — particularly the frequent, if fleeting, panoramas of the Napa Valley and its vineyards.
Even the music is good. Familiar songs by the Doobie Brothers — who are managed by winemaker Bruce Cohn of B.R. Cohn Winery — bookend the film.
Critic Roger Ebert gave “Bottle Shock” three-and-a-half stars, and noted, “The director milks great entertainment, if not actual suspense, out of the competition.”
I saw “Bottle Shock” last weekend and enjoyed it a lot.
Sadly, there were only 11 other people in the theater. That may have been attributable to the still-morning start time, and much of the movie-going public still recovering from their wining and dining the night before.
Whatever the reason for the low attendance, I suggest you see “Bottle Shock” soon. If for no other reason, the scenery is much more majestic on the big screen that it would be on a television screen.
Tomorrow: An ironic P.S. to the story of the 1976 judging and Chateau Montelena.