This 2008 film is a historical drama, set in the mid-1970s, about the California wine industry and the event that rocketed California vintners onto the world stage -- the blind Paris wine tasting of 1976, in which a California wine beat out a French wine in a blind taste test, for the first time in history. The film has a marvelous little cast, each of whom gets their moment to shine. Most prominent (probably) among the stars is Alan Rickman, who plays Steven Spurrier, a snooty English wine snob trying to run an under-patronized wine store in Paris. In an effort to try to ingratiate himself with the French wine community, Spurrier proposes to sponsor an international wine tasting event...sure that this will show of the quality of the French product in comparison to the inferior wines from other countries, including the up-and-coming wineries of California's Napa and Sonoma valleys. Spurrier flies to California to select a variety of wines to take back for his competition, only to be stunned to discover that many of the California wines are of exceptionally high quality. Bill Pullman plays Jim Barrett, a man who quit his button-down office job to try to live the life of a vintner. Chris Pine (James T. Kirk in this summer's Star Trek reboot), plays Jim's son, Bo -- an unfocused young man in his twenties who suddenly finds his calling. Other cast members include Rachael Taylor as Sam (a sexy intern), Freddy Rodriguez as Gustavo Brambila (one of Jim's vineyard workers with a dream of starting his own vineyard), and Eliza Dushku as a bar owner with a pivotal role to play in the Barretts' lives. It's not giving much away to say that the Barretts' wine plays a historical role in the '76 taste testing, which launched American wines onto the cover of Time Magazine. What's fun about this film is the way we get to the pivotal moment in France. The performances of Pullman, Pine and Rodriguez are all laced with emotional nuance...you really get to caring about each of their characters. Rickman, too, turns in a multi-layered performance. His "wine snob", introduced in the film's first few moments, grows with each California winery he stops at, and he really held the film together very well. All in all, despite an unnecessary 3-way romantic entanglement, I enjoyed this one tremendously, and highly recommend it...especially for Rickman or Pine fans. -- recommended by Scott C. - Bennett Martin Public Library
[ Internet Movie Database entry for this film ] | [ official Bottle Shock web site ]
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