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A Sneak Preview of the “Next Sideways”

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My writer friend Darrell Hartman invited me to a screening of “Bottle Shock” last night. Darrell had a chance to interview the director, Randall Miller, at the film’s world premiere at Sundance this year (and shared the scoop on the controversy surrounding the film) but hadn’t had a chance to view the movie. Billed as the next “Sideways,” the movie is an entertaining biopic about Brit Francophile Steven Spurrier and how he brought global attention to California wines by masterminding the legendary 1976 Paris tasting. The film will be in theaters this August. Until then, a few teasers and some insider details:

*Bottle-shock is a condition in which a wine's aromas and flavors seem flattened or disjointed right after uncorking; it can occur when wines are shaken during travel. After several weeks the condition usually disappears.

*Chris Pine, who plays slacker hippie son Bo Barrett, is my new celebrity crush. In the movie he and his cellar rat friends make 1970s Napa feel like a scene out of Dazed and Confused.

*Napa certainly doesn’t need to experience the same “Sideways effect” (a huge surge in tourism) that Santa Barbara has. In fact, Miller shot much of the film in Sonoma's town square because he felt that it looks more like the Napa of the 1970s than the city of Napa does today.

*Alan Rickman of Harry Potter fame (he plays the sinister Professor Severus Snape) has been perfectly cast as Steven Spurrier. His spot-on British humor (or lack thereof) is a highlight of the film.

*Rickman himself is a wine enthusiast though prefers Italian wines over California ones.
 
*The film was commissioned by Jim and Bo Barrett, owners of the Napa property Chateau Montelena, whose 1973 Chardonnay won first place in the 1976 Paris tasting.

*I'm betting Chardonnay sales get an added boost after the film's release just as Pinot Noir was catapulted into the spotlight post-"Sideways."


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