Consultant winemakers Michel Rolland, Susana Balbo, Jean Bousquet and other major names in the wine world are starring in a new drama-documentary being premiered at the Berlin International Film Festival.
El Camino del Vino tells the story of real-life Uruguayan sommelier Charlie Arturaola, one of the top sommeliers in the US, who loses his palate while presenting Mendoza’s Masters of Food & Wine Awards.
The film, which will be shown as part of the 5th annual Culinary Cinema programme at Berlin, charts his journey of re-discovery, seeking advice from Rolland – who tells him to ‘go back to the vineyard’ – and other key figures in the international wine circuit.
The film oscillates between the comic and the serious. It includes scenes in which Arturaola meets the ghosts of dead relatives, is analysed by the ‘psychologist’ winery owner Patricia Ortiz of Tapiz, and is evetually reunited with his family in Uruguay.
He sees the loss of his palate as analogous to losing something within himself during his journey from humble Carlitos of Uruguay, to Charlie, the fêted international speaker and sommelier.
El Camino del Vino, written and directed by Argentinian film maker Nicolas Carreras, won FIPRESCI (Federacion Internacional de la Prensa Cinematografica) at last November’s Mar de Plata film festival in Argentina.
The project ‘started as a collaborative documentary with other sommeliers as a nod to ‘Sideways’ but grew to become a project tracing my ‘return’ to South America,’ Arturaola told Decanter.com.
The producers have asked Argentina’s tourism bureau for permission to show the film at the London International Wine Fair this year.
The Uruguayan-born Arturaola, of mixed European descent, left his family to go to Spain when he was 19. The winner of numerous food and drink awards, in 2003 the American Sommelier Association named him ‘one of the 10 best palates in the United States’
International wine consultant Michel Rolland makes wines in almost every winemaking region of the world. His last film outing was in 2004’s Mondovino, in which – to his private fury – he was represented as championing an ultra-ripe, over-extracted winemaking style.
Written by David Furer