Bottle Shock

Here’s the glossed-up backstory of 1976’s “Judgment of Paris,” the historic blind tasting at which a couple of Napa Valley wines, including Chateau Montelena’s chardonnay, toppled French hegemony and put new-world winemaking on the map (and fees in the tasting room). Mainly Bottle Shock is about how Montelena’s implacable former-lawyer proprietor Jim Barrett (Bill Pullman) and his slacker son and assistant Bo (Chris Pine) first crossed paths with the Paris event’s organizer, Steven Spurrier (Alan Rickman), a snooty British wine merchant doing reluctant recon in California. (Winemaker Mike Grgich, who went on to create his own successful winery, is strangely absent here.)

Though well-appointed with affable performances, the Rocky-meets-Sideways script, co-written by director Randall Miller and his wife Jody Savin, is also overwrought with hokey dramatization and overextended with pat, clunky subplots. It flatters the Nor-Cal ethos of good living–which would be fine if the movie itself weren’t so, well, Hollywood: Abundant helicopter shots of rolling, sun-dappled vineyards signify a fable-like land of repose and rustic delectation, in which even the grizzled old barflies have occasion to shout, “Any asshole can tell a merlot from a zinfandel!”

Verdict: Chewy, ripe and rounded almost to the point of flabbiness, it finishes rather cleanly; less satisfying is the fragrant bouquet, which contains notes of corn and all-wet underdog.