Subject: I have found a DVD that I think you would enjoy
Actors: Albiera Antinori, Lodovico Antinori, Michael Broadbent, Battista Columbu, Lina Columbu
Genres: Indie & Art House, Educational, Documentary, Military & War
The ultimate film about wine and wine culture, Mondovino offers an unprecedented look into the conflicts, conspiracies and alliances of the wine trade. Filmed by award-winning director Jonathan Nossiter, Mondovino has spar... more »
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Epic Documentary about the Loss of Wine's Original Purpose
M. JEFFREY MCMAHON | Torrance, CA USA | 07/29/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"In this sprawling two-hour-plus documentary in which there is no narration, we see charming, sympathetic, sometimes cranky old French and Italian men who talk about the origins of wine as being religious and spiritual with each region linked to a specific taste, flavor, and character of wine. These old wine makers look on with foreboding doom and disgust at the new global wine makers who, catering to Americans' infantile tastes ("easy to drink wines") and who favor oak to "terroir"(the earthy tastes in many French wines)are changing the way wines are made forever. It seems the small wineries are being bought out by the big corporations, synthetic methods are used, everyone is creating a McDonalds Bic Mac wine that is predictable, doesn't need ageing, and caters to wine critic Robert Parker's personal tastes and biases (he loves the big California wines so the Europeans are emulating that model.)
The profiles of philistines, vulgarians, and other avaricious types are remarkable in that the director just let's them talk and reveal themselves. They are really like caricatures of villians in action films. To hear one wealthy family transplanted to Argentina talk about the indigenous people as being lazy for example is almost too much to bear.
The most touching part of the film is the relationship between an ageing curmudgeon wine maker, fully of witty philosophical quips, and his daughter who shares his sensibility. She tells her father she is quitting the big winery she is working at because it has sold out. Her brother, who has business leanings, seems hell-bent on ruining his father's legacy. This triangle between father and his daughter and son is what rises this film to the level of a truly excellent documentary.
One last bit of praise. The director, who interviews his subjects in the film, seems fluent in many languages: French, Italian, Spanish, and so on. Being able to speak his subjects' language gave him more access and this helped the film immensely."
Culture and Commerce Clash in the World of Wine.
mirasreviews | McLean, VA USA | 09/10/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)
""Mondovino" is filmmaker and sommelier Jonathan Nossiter's examination of the politics and personalities of the wine industry that have influenced the taste of wines worldwide in the past 25 years. Some regard the rise of wine critics and consultants and the globalization of wineries as a boon to business, allowing more access to wine for more people and more profit for the industry. Others lament the "Rolland-Parker marriage and the Napa-ization of wine", calling wine conglomerates like Mondavi "terroirists", with their high-tech young wines and disregard for place. Nossiter is an opponent of the current trend toward homogenization in wines. But the film may be of interest to wine-lovers of all stripes, since it allows both sides to articulate its viewpoint and to talk about wine, on 3 continents and in 5 languages -all of which Nossiter speaks. "Mondovino" is too long and repetitive at 2 hours and 15 minutes, but it has been edited down from a 10-part, 10-hour television series which may have aired in Europe. "Mondovino" was filmed by Jonathan Nossiter and Stephanie Pommez with a digital video camera that is usually handheld. The camera jiggles way too much for comfort, and the close zooms on people's eyes are due the camera's inability to hold focus. The film's technical limitations do detract from its watchability. In English, French, Italian, Portuguese, and Spanish with English subtitles.
On the side of "terroir", wine as an "expression of the personality of the place" or "somewhereness", French vintners Aimé Guibert and Hubert de Montille wax poetic and get philosophical about Man's relationship with wine. Guibert was a major player in the "Mondavi Affair" in the town of Aniane, France, where townspeople, environmentalists, and anti-globalization groups came together to prevent Mondavi from constructing a mega-vineyard nearby. De Montille speaks candidly about his wines and family, and is one of "Mondovino"'s big personalities. Prominent figures in the corporate world of wine include Tim and Michael Mondavi, Garen and Shari Staglin, Patrick Leon -technical director at Mouton-Rothschild, Leo McCloskey of Enologix, the largest wine consultant agency in the U.S., and members of the Frescobaldi and Antinori families in Italy, who were rivals to partner with Mondavi in the deal that resulted in Mondavi's buyout of Ornellaia.
But the most interesting and controversial proponents of "brands" and the global market are Michel Rolland, wine consultant for over 100 properties in 12 countries, and wine super-critic Robert Parker. Rolland is witty and arrogant to a fault, but he's straightforward and rather funny if you don't take him seriously. He admits to imposing his own tastes on the world of wine. His solution to everything seems to be "just micro-oxygenate". Hundreds of wineries worldwide change their wines to suit him. And the man with the palate of gold smokes; his taste buds are fried. Robert Parker is less colorful, but more complicated. He speaks of the influence of the Watergate era on his thinking. He strove to dispel the conflict of interest in rating wines and monopoly of opinion by the Old World vintners by introducing the objective critic, with the intention of making wine writing more pro-consumer. His detractors would argue that Parker's intention was to help the California wine industry by rating wines highly that were oaky, as young wineries use new oak casks to hide their lack of "terroir". In any case, Parker seems to have replaced one tyranny of taste with another. Not coincidentally, Robert Parker and Michel Rolland, who are friends, have similar tastes in wine. When a wine is poorly rated by Parker, the vineyard hires Rolland to consult, and then the rating goes up -which looks an awful lot like a racket.
I'm not a wine drinker, so I'm not inclined to take sides in the culture vs commerce/ terroir vs brands battle. Some people will find "Mondovino" revolutionary while others will find it alarmist. Jonathan Nossiter makes astute and intriguing observations in the film, but I think announcing the death of diversity in wines would be premature. It strikes me that the wine industry is a victim of its own success. Improved technologies and increasing wealth have created a global market for wine. It would be impossible to keep up with the demand without young wines. And now consumers' palates as well as critics' have adapted to it. Industrialization brought the same fate to many industries. But that doesn't necessarily mean the demise of small-scale, individualist products. There is normally a specialty market for them. "Mondovino" reminds me of the Scotch whisky industry in the 19th century. Single malts went out of fashion due to high cost, inconsistent quality, and small scale production. The patent still, which could produce whisky much faster than the old pot stills, created the rise of grain whiskies and blends. Blends are a homogenized product, marketed by brand as opposed to place. It was actually corporate buy-outs that led to the resurgence of single malts in the late 20th century and a subsequent improvement in the blends. Most Scotch whisky distilleries are owned by conglomerates now, who find no reason to abandon traditional methods of making single malts. They created a global market for them, and they own the grain distilleries too.
The DVD (Think Films 2005): There are 2 bonus features: Part VI of the 10-part "Mondovino" series, entitled "Quo Vademus?" and an audio commentary with filmmaker Jonathan Nossiter. "Quo Vademus?" is eclectic in theme, but focuses primarily on the idea of sprucing up young wines with new oak, a lawsuit against Robert Parker involving some Burgundy wine, and taste being entirely personal. If you're really into wine and enjoyed the film, you'll probably like the audio commentary. Nossiter talks about the people in the film, their reactions, and his approach to the subject. He does discuss themes of globalization, but avoids commenting on what the film means, preferring people to draw their own conclusions. Subtitles available for the film in English and French."
Not Dead, Yet
Granville Pool | Redwood Valley, CA, USA | 12/19/2005
(3 out of 5 stars)
"For those who have not yet seen the film, I recommend it only to wine buffs and recommend that you FIRST watch the DVD's bonus feature, "Quo Vademus?" (Part 6 of the original made-for-TV 10-part series). I think I'd have understood and enjoyed the main film better had I seen that first.
I found it interesting that, while most reviewers slammed the hideous camera work, it was not until I read the 18th of 18 reviews on Amazon (plus many elsewhere) that I found someone else annoyed by the mostly unreadable subtitles. I could almost learn the several languages more quickiy than I could decode the pale-on-pale subtitles.
While I very much struggled to follow the film in many places (and had to replay many parts, some of them several times), found it too long and disjointed, sometimes boring, I still thought it worthwhile for me. I enjoy drinking and learning about wine, live surrounded by vineyards, and have two family members in the wine business. I did learn a lot from the film, including how much I still have to learn about much of the business, especially in Europe.
On the other hand, I found the obvious conclusion that the artisanal quality of wine growing and making are nearly swallowed up by marketing, technology, and profit to be premature and perhaps somewhat presumptuous. The Mondavi empire has collapsed. California is repleat with artisanal, boutique wineries that take (what we here in upstart California may presume to pass for) Terroir quite seriously. Navarro Vineyards, in Anderson Valley, for example (there are many, many others). Until I saw this film, I thought California's foremost wine consultant was Helen Turley, yet she was not even mentioned. She doesn't just "micro-oxygenate" wines but works right with the soil, the plants, the clusters, and every aspect of what goes into making a wine unique, including, I daresay, Terroir.
Watch the film but don't give up on individuality in wines, just yet."
No plonk, this
Olivier Berger | New York | 12/16/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Mondo Vino lives up to most, if perhaps not all, the praise it has received. Nossiter's range is remarkable, and he brings both talent and passion to the project. Much has already been said in previous reviews with which I agree. Certainly, for anyone interested in wine, I recommend the film highly, but it reaches far beyond that specialized audience.
Where one may find fault is in the overall polemical tone of the work. True, Nossiter doesn't editorialize in his own voice. He lets his villains hoist themselves by their own petards, and it can be revealing and entertaining to watch. But he is clearly out to make a point. He does this with great success, and I salute the achievement. But something is lost, artistically and philosophically, in such point-making. It could have been a great documentary; but it is still a very good one."