Bottle Shock, the notorious film based on the 1976 Judgment of Paris, had its Napa Valley debut last Saturday.
Projected al fresco below the walls of Chateau Montelena – which has just been bought by Michel Reybier, the owner of the renowned Chateau Cos d’Estournel in Bordeaux – the premiere was attended by Napa A-listers including press, movie stars and Napa society.
Coni Thornburg, general manager of the Calistoga Ranch, set the generally uncritical tone: ‘What an enchanting evening, sitting under the stars, with the stars and seeing this film.’
The film, which received mixed reviews when it showed at the Sundance Film Festival in January this year, recounts Steven Spurrier’s travels in California, looking for worthy American wines for the tasting.
Spurrier is played by Alan Rickman (pictured), who portrays him as ‘priggish yet open-minded’, according to the script notes.
While Variety called it ‘sprawling’, ‘painfully corny’ yet with a ‘charming aftertaste,’ Napa was more positive.
‘The film was educational, had a little bit of romance and a beautiful finish, like a fine wine,’ Thornburg said.
Bottle Shock was directed by Randall Miller and tells the story of the Barretts, son Bo and father Jim (played by Bill Pullman) from Chateau Montelena, whose 1973 Chardonnay beat four Burgundies and half a dozen American whites at the now-legendary Paris Tasting of 1976, organised by Spurrier.
‘It was really fun. It’s amazing to see it come full circle, especially now with the French buying this winery,’ said guest Eden Umble, PR Coordinator for the Calistoga Chamber of Commerce.
Tasmanian actress Rachael Taylor, who plays Sam, part of a complicated love triangle involved Bo Barret and an ‘upstart Latino winemaker’, said she was thrilled to be back at Montelena.
‘Bo and Heidi Barrett really educated me, and helped me understand the spirit of this land.’
Written by Bob Ecker in Napa