Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Mondovino DVD Is Out!

Mondovino is an amazing documentary film made by amateur fillmmaker, Joseph Nossiter. Hailed more in France, it showed to mixed reviews in the U.S., with just a very limited run in a handful of theaters in major metropolitan areas. So, thankfully, it’s finally released in DVD. I rented mine a few days ago from my neighborhood Hollywood Video.

Anyone interested in finding out what the big schism in the wine world is all about should watch this film. The major protagonists are all there—the globalists led by Michel Rolland, Mondavi, large Bordeaux and Burgundy négociants, and wine critics Robert Parker and the Wine Spectator versus the traditionalists represented by Hubert de Montille, Neal Rosenthal, and the small wine farmers in Jurançon, Sardinia, Chile, and Argentina.
Rolland and Parker do appear in a somewhat unflattering light, yet they’re honest about their interests, which is to help wine producers make better wines the way they know how. It was Aimé Guibert of Daumas Gaussac who was unmasked as a fraud (Nossiter probably didn’t even intend it, yet that’s how it comes out in the film). He fought the Mondavis, who hired Rolland as wine consultant, to keep them out of the Languedoc because they were globalists. Yet, after he won the fight, Guibert turned around and partnered with one of the largest French wine négociants and obvious globalist, William Pitters, which also hired Rolland as winemaking consultant for the new venture!
Old man Hubert de Montille is the heroic character in the film, not necessarily for what he represents (surprise, surprise, he’s against wine globalism), but for his lucid commentaries on wine’s place in our civilization. He pleads his case convincingly, comparing the newcomer wine globalists to the ridiculous European missionaries who came to ancient China to impose their brand of religion on a great civilization guided for centuries by the timeless virtues of Confucian thought.
In the end, this is a thoughtful and melancholic film about the wine world. Though globalism was Nossiter’s premise, the film slipped through his fingers like grape juice. The powerful personalities that dominate the wine world have, but illusory control. Like civilization itself, wine is a survivor, it evolves with the passage of time.
Running time: 135 mins
Rated PG-13
In French, English, Italian with English subtitles

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