Bottle Shock (2008) - Plot Summary Poster



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  • The story of the early days of California wine making featuring the now infamous, blind Paris wine tasting of 1976 that has come to be known as "Judgment of Paris".

  • In 1976, Steven Spurrier, a sommelier in Paris, comes to the Napa Valley to take the best he can find to Paris for a blind taste test against French wine. He meets Jim Barrett, whose Chateau Montelena is mortgaged to the hilt as Jim perfects his chardonnay. There's strain in Jim's relations with his hippie son Bo and his foreman Gustavo, a Mexican farmworker's son secretly making his own wine. Plus, there's Sam, a UC Davis graduate student and free spirit, mutually attracted to both Gustavo and Bo. As Spurrier organizes the "Judgment of Paris," Jim doesn't want to participate while Bo knows it's their only chance. Barrett's chardonnay has buttery notes and a Smithsonian finish.

  • 1976. Steven Spurrier is a British wine connoisseur who lives in Paris as he considers France to be the center of the wine universe. He owns his own exclusive wine shop and wine tasting school, the problem being that he has few customers because he is seen as not being one of the knowledgeable French. His friend and one and only regular customer, Midwestern American Maurice Cantavale, believes to increase business, Steven has to show the French that there are other good wines in the world besides that produced in France. Half way across the world in Napa Valley, California, divorced and strong willed Jim Barrett packed in his corporate job as a partner in a lucrative law firm - one of the other partners who is now his ex-wife's husband - to start up Chateau Montelena, a vineyard. Jim is going broke because of the business. He loves wine making and believes that he and his fellow California vintners produce as a good a wine as anyone in the world. He runs the vineyard with his slacker dude son, Bo Barrett - the two who have an unusual way to release their aggressions - and Bo's best friend Gustavo Brambila, an ethnic Mexican and second generation hand on the land. Gustavo would like one day to produce his own wines, but does not have the resources to buy land. He believes he deserves greater success than nouveau wine makers since wine is in his blood. Sam Fulton enters their lives as an intern, she who shakes up the goings-on as a beautiful female in the otherwise male dominated business. Their collective lives intersect when Steven, on Maurice's advice, decides to hold a blind taste testing wine competition of California wines of his choosing against their French counterparts. Jim, who doesn't trust Steven, believes this competition is Steven's way of ridiculing the California producers. Bo, who is struggling to find his place in life, believes this competition is the opportunity to put California on the quality wine producing map globally, and their wine specifically if Steven chooses their Chardonnay. Even if Bo is able to convince his father to participate, their Chardonnay will not have a smooth road ahead due to many factors, some which confound Jim's perfect sensibilities.

  • In 1976, in the Napa Valley, the perfectionist vigneron Jim Barrett is the owner of the Château Montelena that is full of debts and near bankruptcy. Jim is unsuccessfully racking his wine trying to reach perfection. He has a problematic relationship with his hippie son Bo and his Mexican foreman and connoisseur Gustavo Brambila is secretly producing wine with his father Mr. Garcia. Jim hires the free spirit intern Sam Fulton from UC Davis to help him in the production of wine. Meanwhile in Paris, the wine expert Steven Spurrier that owns a specialized store has few clients. His friend Maurice Cantavale advises him to promote his store and he decides to organize a blind tasting competition between the French and the American wines. He travels to Napa Valley to find the best American wines to bring to the dispute. He has a troubled meeting with Jim that refuses to participate in the competition. However Bo foresees the chance of survival of his father's business and gives two bottles to Spurrier. But soon he finds that the color of all the 500 bottles of chardonnay have turned into brown. Is Jim Barrett's business doomed?

  • Our victory in France can be called the Second Judgment of Paris (let us not forget Aphrodite and the golden apple which was the First Judgment of Paris.) This is the story of American wine coming of age and the men and women on both sides of the Atlantic who made it happen.


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