Saturday, May 21, 2011

Phil's Overlooked Film Picks: Entry One: BOTTLE SHOCK (2008)-May 21, 2011

In August of 2008, I was housesitting for my best friend Dave out in beautiful Monterey. Nine days of pure bliss, and I had the place all to myself. During my stay, a little movie opened that Friday at the Osio Theater, which is THE place to see great independent, foreign, and documentary films in Monterey. I read a review about the the film in the Monterey County Weekly paper, and it sounded like a winner. I went to see the film on Sunday, and I immediately told everybody about it. Three years later, it is still one of my all time favorites. Trust me when I say that BOTTLE SHOCK is simply a great film that you have probably never seen, or heard of before. But after reading this, you will want to see it.

Original Movie Poster (2008)
The film is about the Blind French Wine Tasting of 1976 that put California Napa Valley wines, more specifically Chateau Montelana winery, on the map. Alan Rickman portrays wine connoisseur Steven Spurrier, who travels to California to find the best wines to compete against the French's best of the best. During his travel he meets Jim Barret (Bill Pullman) who owns Chateau Montelena. His son Bo (Chris Pine) and their intern Sam (Rachael Taylor) gives Steven a tour of Napa Valley, where he begins to realize that these California wines are "so good." In the end, Steven chooses his favorites, including Montelena, and travels back to Paris, where he holds the "Judgement of Paris" blind taste competition. On that day in 1976, history was made, and the wine industry has never been the same since.

What I loved about the movie that it stayed pretty faithful to the actual events that had transpired. As a result, Chateau Montelena is now regarded as one of the pioneers of wine industry, an elder statesman to be more specific. Now we have wine from all over the world, and we have to thank the Barrets, as well as Spurrier for transforming the worlds' pallets and shattering the myth of the French wine.

The entire cast did a phenomenal job at bringing these characters to the big screen. Pullman's performance as Jim Barret was amazing, showcasing the actor's range, from sheer joy to painful failure. It's interesting to see Chris Pine star in this film. Fast forward a year later, Pine is cast as the new Captain James T. Kirk in JJ Abram's 2009 relaunch of  STAR TREK, and is now a major Hollywood star. Of course, Akerman is just hilarious to watch. His facial expressions from realizing the California wines are incredible, to trying Kentucky Fried Chicken and guacamole for the first time, is just priceless. Rachel Taylor would also become famous, starring in Michael Bay's 2009 mega-hit TRANSFORMERS. Both Freddie Rodriguez (Gustavo) and Eliza Dushku (Jo) also turn in some great performances as well.

BOTTLE SHOCK is a film that some people might compare to that other wine film SIDEWAYS. This comparison is completely unfair, as they are two totally different types of film.This is a classic underdog movie, one that showcases a lot heart and soul, with some fun and humor thrown in for good measure. This really is just a great film to enjoy with others. So make sure you have plenty bottles of Chateau Montelena chardonnay on hand, because by the end of the film, you will be celebrating as well.

If you would like to learn more about Chateau Montelena, or take a tour of their beautiful winery and try some of their wines, visit their website

BOTTLE SHOCK is now available on DVD. Check your local retailer to purchase a copy for yourself, or visit

Thanks for reading, and enjoy the show!

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