“Are we deserving of a seat at the table of the world’s finest yet?” Filmmakers David Nash and Simon Mark-Brown pose the question in this vine-saturated visual feast of a documentary highlighting pivotal moments in our winescape, starting with a landmark blind tasting by the most influential wine writers in the UK. We see sauvignon blanc first arriving in Marlborough and watch the Cloudy Bay colossus open doors worldwide. We learn why Alan Brady (Gibbston Valley) planted pinot noir in the desert, how Clive Paton (Ata Rangi) based his vineyard on a mysterious clone taken from smuggled Burgundian cuttings destined for destruction, and how biodynamics has taken a firm hold downunder.
The warp-speed ascent of Kiwi wines to international recognition has hardly been a smooth road, but a series of sleekly shot (and sometimes snort-inducingly funny) interviews showcasing a smorgasbord of local wine pioneers and their French confrères pops the cork on how faith and fortune favour our brave fermenters. As Baroness Philippine de Rothschild offers, “Wine making is really quite a simple business. Only the first 200 years are difficult.”
A Seat at the Table entertainingly explores Franco-Kiwi discussions comparing our key wine styles, the screwcap versus cork chestnut, New Zealand’s growing wine identity and questions around whether we’re really deserving of top-table status. With so much prime vino being tasted and celebrated, it also demands you have a glass or two at the ready to quench your thirst. Enter the cinema empty-handed at your own peril. — Yvonne Lorkin