A new, massively extended version of controversial wine documentary Mondovino is failing to re-ignite the global wine debate – because it’s only available in Africa.
Mondovino: the Series is a ten-parter which promises a deeper investigation into the wine world, and more ‘intimate and detailed’ portraits of wine families such as the Mondavis and the Frescobaldis than in the original film, released in 2004.
The series has been taken on by the BBC but only for its Africa service. The film’s distributors Celluloid Dreams said, ‘BBC Prime is showing it in Africa. We are looking for a UK TV channel at the moment.’
They have so far been unable to secure distribution in any other country.
Director Jonathan Nossiter has had praise and opprobrium heaped on him in equal measure for his polemic on globalisation in the wine world.
Many feel that in his portraits of Michel Rolland, the de Montilles of Burgundy, the Frescobaldis, Mondavis and other great wine families he relies on sophisticated editing to get his point across.
Rolland in particular is singled out for demonisation. Using multiple replays of a single shot of the wine consultant laughing in his chauffeur-driven Mercedes, the director contrives to make him appear a malevolent presence.
Similarly, clever cutting canonises figures like Mas de Daumas Gassac’s Aime Guibert, or turns the Staglins of Napa into cliches of insensitive Californians.
But while the film has offended many it has garnered high praise from both inside and outside the wine industry. French newspaper Liberation called it a ‘passionate…sensational investigation into the globalization of winemaking’.
Time Out, Figaro and other key journals were equally enthusiastic. The main criticism has come from the US, where the film’s simplistic message of ‘small is beautiful’ offended more sensibilities than in Europe.
Nossiter himself has proven less than impervious to criticism. Last year, in a posting on erobertparker.com, he rounded on critics of what he describes as ‘a high-spirited humanist expression of love.’
In particular he accused Robert Parker’s then partner Pierre-Antoine Rovani of being a Mussolini apologist, indirectly fascist and anti-semitic, ‘monolithic and unscrupulously self-serving’ after he voiced a negative opinion.
Written by Adam Lechmere