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Posted: Monday, January 21 2008. 10:00 AM

Wine Movie: Bottle Shock

After the highly acclaimed Sideways, comes Bottle Shock, a movie based on the legendary 1976 Paris tasting conducted by Steven Spurrier when Chateau. Montelena Chardonnay 1973 was rated higher than the Burgundy counterparts.

'Bottle Shock' was premiered last Friday at the Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah, being held from 17-27 January. It's one of two rival movie projects about the historic wine event, which made Napa Valley globally popular. The second movie about the same tasting, 'The Judgment of Paris' has not started shooting yet.

When a group of French experts rated wines from brand-new California makers higher than Burgundies and Bordeaux, the wine world was flabbergasted. Chateau Montelena and Stag's Leap Wine Cellars with its 1973 Cabernet Sauvignon have been reaping the benefits ever since. As expected, Chardonnay is now over the top, but the Cabernet is still delicious and sells for about $1,000.

Focussing on Ch Montelena, the movie reviewed by Bloomberg is the white wine version of the Paris tasting, the 'Judgement' will be the red wine equivalent. It focuses on the father-son conflict between the winery's colourful owner, Jim Barrett and his son Bo.

Bo is a shown as the young surfer who helps save the day. 'It's completely Hollywoodized,' says Bo Barrett though, now 52. `My character has this great girlfriend. But I had zero luck with girls back then.''

Though the winemaker at the time, Mike Grgich, made the winning wine, he's not a major character. His assistant gets the key role.

The widely respected Spurrier who I had the pleasure of meeting in London recently, is not amused at his portrayal in the movie. He obtained the draft of the screenplay late and is not happy about his own portrayal as an English snob in 'completely invented incidents'.

He was based in Paris in 1976 and owned Academie du Vin where he developed an idea to educate Parisians, not on French wine, but on the new wines coming out of California.

Steven who seems to be a very relaxed and an unassuming person in real life says, 'I'm extremely angry at the deeply insulting and inaccurate way my business and I were portrayed,' He has hired a London law firm to write to Randal Miller, director and co-screenwriter Randall Miller who has toned down his role and insists, 'In our film, Spurrier is heroic.'

But the winery owner Barrett is happy, 'I'm personally amused by the movie. It's a love letter to the wine business.' And, of course, it will draw attention to Chateau Montelena.

It is unlikely that the movie will be screened in the regular theatres. Sideways, which was highly popular overseas was watched by the wine lovers in India only on DVDs.


       

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