Mondovino Documentary Review

Hipsters aren’t always the first to discover the things they love. We most certainly were not the first generation enamored with Pabst Blue Ribbon and Parliament Lights. Our parents would probably take up arms if we had the nerve to stake a claim over the collections of Bob Dylan, Cat Stevens or Paul Simon. Similarly, those in wine may be surprised that we just caught on to the 2004 film, “Mondovino,” by Jonathan Nossiter.

While working harvest at Chehalem Wines in the Willamette Valley of Oregon, I was introduced to this film by my French roommate, Romain. Already, this set-up does indeed sound very hip. “Mondovino” is boss for all of the right reasons. The film is shot entirely on a handheld camcorder giving it a gritty yet voyeuristic aesthetic. This handmade approach allows the filmmaker’s personality and opinions to bleed through the screen as we see how he chooses to shoot different personalities, environments and terroirs.

Without revealing too much, the film unravels a modern day David and Goliath battle between distinctively “Old World” winemaking and “New World” techniques. This is a bitter relationship as larger companies and conglomerates have teamed up with equally large personalities such as the notorious consultant winemaker Michel Rolland and infamous wine critic, Robert Parker, who have greatly influenced the way wine is made and consequently how the market expects wine to taste. Although his perspective is far from objective, Nossiter captures the vexation that many in the wine industry have about the modernization and homogenization of world wines.

Even if you don’t like wine, “Mondovino” is a fantastic documentary that often evokes laughter out of both frustration and joy. So, grab a glass of wine or PBR and watch this film. After watching, please let us know what your thoughts were on the movie.


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