Screened as part of NZIFF 2005
Nearly all of the winemakers, merchants and experts interviewed in this thoroughly engrossing film by part-time sommelier Jonathan Nossiter treat him and us to the full expression of their personalities. They’re at ease in their chateaux, homes and gardens. Apparently casual in its ambling from one vineyard to another, but utterly smart and totally fascinating, Nossiter’s film about the globalisation of wine and the creeping elimination of local character – and terroir – works through shrewd parallels drawn between the diehard authentics and the moneyed barons. And many of the Old World barons are now very much in the thrall of New World masters. The Californian Mondavis, father and son, alongside the chuckling, self-congratulatory, cigar-chomping French oenologist Michel Rolland, effortlessly expose themselves as the forces to be reckoned with. The authentics, on the other hand, are as salty and cantankerous as any Renoir rustic. Whole world-views seem to be contrasted here: the Mondavis, for example, talk fatuously about family values, while a French winemaker demonstrates his, sending up his chronically irritated son’s thin skin and lack of sense of humour. It’s very clear who savours power in this film and who savours life and character. Nossiter, predictably, has been decried as undemocratic for questioning the superiority of the wine superpowers and their well-rewarded friends in the cuisine media.
“This fierce, funny and challenging doc opens up a world worth debating. Jonathan Nossiter has a nose for what gets lost as the wine industry goes global… Since the crisis applies to film, music and other arts, Mondovino is a potent provocation.” — Peter Travers, Rolling Stone