Sunday, October 7, 2007

The Evil Empire

We decided to watch Mondovino again to see if we could stay awake this time now that we are earnest students of wine. We rented it the first time a few years ago (right after Sideways) because Netflix said that people who liked Sideways also enjoyed Mondovino (lol). The biggest impact it had on us after our first viewing was to steer us away from Mondavi wine (not that we were buying Mondavi before we watched it).

The viewpoint of the film-maker is very compelling. Of course, he has a very definite viewpoint which colors the portrayal of certain characters in the film (IMHO) so I took it with a grain of salt. The American wine-makers featured in Mondovino were cast in an unflattering light which highlighted their corporate-profit-maximizing-at-the-expense-of-culture bent. Among the soiled were Mondavi (Robert, and sons), representatives of Wine Spectator, Robert Parker (to some extent), some damn American stealing grapes from a vine in Bordeaux, and the Francobaldi family. The impression of Napa that you get from this film is one of vacuous, soulless people who are single-handedly destroying the very soul of wine (not saying it isn't true in some cases). While, I don't think that making money as a wine-maker is intrinsically evil, I definitely came away with a lot of admiration for the French vintners (oh, they make $, I'm sure) that were featured.

One observation that I believe was made in the film, is that there is more Catholic guilt associated with making money in France that sways some of the prejudices you see there. I don't know if that's true but, it's an interesting idea. I wouldn't want to see vineyards that go back for generations, in a village that actually manages to hold on to it's bucolic charm bull-dozed to put up a Mondavi billboard no matter how many shares of MOND I owned.

Favorite quote from Mondovino: "micro-oxygenate!" (haha! I like to tease Taster A by telling him I'm going to ask if they micro-oxygenate next time we go to a winery)

Read an interesting interview with film-maker and sommelier Jonathan Nossiter.