A review of “Bottle Shock” by Jeanne Aufmuth

 

Stars: ***

Rating: PG-13 for language and drug use

Run Time: 1 hour, 46 minutes

 

 

Veteran thesp Bill Pullman adds critical credibility to this dippity-do ode to the California grape.

Strip off the chestnuts and an insipid love triangle and you’ve got yourself a feel-good drama about people who love what they do -- in this case dabbling in the art of great wine.

Novice vintner Jim Barrett (Pullman) is running Chateau Montelena on a wing and a prayer, having shed his previous life as a lawyer to follow his true passion. Son Bo (Chris Pine in a bad blonde wig) doesn’t take to Dad’s establishment ways and has no direction of his own. This being 1976 Bo is more interested in chilling with the hippie crowd and lusting after curvy new hire Sam (Rachael Taylor)

On the other side of the Atlantic transplanted Englishman cum oenophile Steven Spurrier (Alan Rickman) is also struggling; running a failing little wine shop going steadily south.

For no apparent reason Spurrier hits on the idea of an international wine competition and travels to Napa to see what the upstart Californians are blending. Which sets wine snob tongues a-wagging and pits France against the Golden State in an anxious blind-tasting with historical implications.

Bo and his Dad continue to wage war but strive to close the chasm. Jim’s gifted cellar rat Gustavo Brambila (super cool Freddy Rodriguez) gets into the act, relishing the sanctity of the vine while trying to keep peace on the home front.

“Bottle Shock” has its heart in the right place; pulling its focus back to the wonders of viniculture when the narrative threatens to wither on the vine. A sweet and easy supplement to summer.