The Screening of Bottle Shock

The Screening of Bottle Shock

Location: Chennai
Date & Time: Friday, July 24, 2009 – 15:01

Bottle Shock Night

The third “official” event organized by the Chennai Wine Club, Terroir, was a well-balanced brew of great ingredients: a thoroughly enjoyable film about the grape titled Bottle Shock, some appropriate grape to keep the film company, and great company that stayed to chat about the grape.

On the evening of July 24th 2009, 20 members of Terroir gathered at the Screening Room of the Park Hotel, some reaching by the appointed hour of 6pm, others making impassioned telephone calls about “traffic snarl-ups”. So the evening started fashionably late but as the movie itself – picked by Terroir’s Mukund Padmanabhan – was an unqualified success, there were few actual complaints.

Creating – shock – waves of appreciation at Sundance, Bottle Shock directed by Randall Miller is based on a real event of great importance in the history of wine: the so-called Judgment of Paris, a wine tasting event in 1976, in which French and Californian wines faced off in a blind tasting.

The always-enjoyable Alan Rickman plays Steven Spurrier, a Brit wine merchant in Paris who is a snob about the superiority of French wine. He gets involved in setting up the blind wine tasting, which forces him to visit the barbarians of Napa Valley. But it’s his nose that’s in for something of a shock – no longer can it be held disdainfully up in the air when faced with the luxuriant aromas of Napa’s perfect chardonnays. The Napa end of things is brought to life by the conflicts between Barrett senior (Bill Pullman) and junior (Chris Pine) about how to lead ones life, and run a profitable business by making the best possible wine.

The Screening of Bottle Shock

“I admittedly felt proud and patriotic when the American wines won against all odds!” says Ragini Gupta, Acting Public Affairs Officer, U.S. Consulate General, Chennai of the film. She adds: ” This wine club event was especially enjoyable because members got to know one another – it was a nice intimate event unlike prior dos!”

Members made good use of this opportunity to discuss the movie as well as meet other Terroir members in an informal setting. There was, for example, a hilarious round of introductions; had there been a prize, the member who offered an entertaining self-introduction as “professional socialite” would have won hands-down. Unwilling to call it a night even as the Screening Room closed, 10 members went on to have dinner – and the odd glass of wine – at the Anise in the Taj Coromandel.

Wines brought in by the members to accompany the film included both Californian and French vintages. Among the offerings were Seshagiri Valangiman’s 2006 Kendall Jackson Napa Chardonnay, Reserve which has a “big, tropical fruit-scented nose, fine acidity, and medium to full-bodied flavors”; and Sabu Balagopal’s 2006 Chateau Teyssier, Bordeaux’ Château Teyssier being referred to as “a rising star in St-Emilion – one of two right bank ‘stellar cellars’“ according to Williamson & Moore’s Wine Behind the Label.

Wine of the evening? Most likely the 2005 Beaulieu Vineyards Napa Valley Cabernet, aged for 16 months in French and American oak – and made with 100 per cent Napa Valley grapes, which kept to the spirit of the movie. Whine of the evening – the plaintive “But why don’t we do this more often?”

-Parvathi Nayar