Saturday, January 30, 2010

Bottle Shock

I just watched a great little movie, Bottle Shock. If you've read my post on good wines then you sort of know where I'm coming from on the subject. My pocket book isn't always willing to satisfy my taste buds. But that was ok, as long as I can manage to keep my taste buds dormant. Right now, I'm in a "need better wine" than I was a year ago. This movie nudged me into a "need much better wine" place.

The movie purports to tell the story of the historic 1976 wine competition in Paris, pitting French wines against uspstart California wines in a blind test. Alan Rickman (Snape in Harry Potter) is excellent in all his snobby Englishness as the instigator of the contest. It was precious to see him driving out to tour the Napa Valley wineries in a rented beat-up yellow Gremlin eating Kentucky Fried Chicken. The Californians are sort of made out to be hicks and hippies, but darn it! They do know how to make great wine!

The two main subplots going on are: Father/Son friction. Will the dad impress upon the hippie son the value of taking life seriously and making something out of himself? If he can, how will he do it? a) beat the crap out of him boxing, b) fire him

And: Who will get the girl? The cute and hardworking Mexican-American worker who knows more about winemaking than these gringos he works for because he was born with vinyard dirt under his finger nails, and they came later and thought they could just "learn it?" Or the pretty-boy hippie with the really bad hair (hey, it was the 70's; but truthfully, I was in high school in 1976, and Ididn't know anyone with hair quite like that!) who partied, drank, and womanized, but did have a truck instead of a motorcycle with a sidecar. Your guesses are a) the Mexican American, b) the White Hippie, c) both.

The scenes showing people tasting the wines do what well-done food commercials do-- make you want to get some of that. You think, Yes! Sit me by an upturned wine barrel at the edge of a grassy bluff overlooking some of the most gorgeous vineyard scenery in Sonoma County (yes, they filmed it there instead of Napa County) on a warm summer day; surround me with half a dozen wine tastes in tall stemware, and then top it off by having one of the friendly workers bring around a stone bowl of freshly made guacamole and chips.

Come to think of it, that's probably why I bought to two avacodos to go with the Clos du Bois Cab I opened that night...

As the competition approaches, the tense moment of the movie comes when the main character wine maker thinks his wine is spoiled and sends it off to the dump in despair. Who will save the wine? Who will save the day? Yes, it really was tense, but we already know the movie has a happy ending. Yay California! Yay Napa Valley Wines! Makes me proud to be a Californian.

Of course, all the details in the movie can't be true. That's the way "based on a true story" works. But, happily, the important details are true, and even some of the less important details. You can find out what is fact and fiction by going here.

I'd recommend this movie. Just make sure you have a nice California Chardonnay or Cabernet at hand to make it a holistic experience.

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