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A glimpse into the Court of Master Sommeliers as SOMM opens in US

SOMM, a documentary that charts the rigours of achieving the elusive Master Sommelier qualification, went on general release in the US last week.

The right amount of flaws…SOMM

The opening was marked by a screening hosted by Christie’s New York and Beringer Vineyards.

Written and directed by Jason Wise, SOMM follows four sommeliers and their efforts to join the exclusive Court of Master Sommeliers. The publicity-shy organisation has never before allowed cameras to record anything related to its notoriously challenging exam, which tests candidates on all aspects of wine, spirits and cigars.

‘I did not intend this to be my first film but I have always loved wine, especially the history that surrounds the vine,’ Wise told Decanter.com.

‘When I saw the characters blind tasting, and learned there was a real human story here, I became obsessed with making this my first film.’

While the film is non-fiction, Wise said its trajectory is more narrative than documentary.

‘Wine is not a subject for me, it is a setting. This is a film about people with incredible talent and the right amount of flaws to make them interesting.’

Some of New York’s top sommeliers – including Dustin Wilson of Eleven Madison Park (one of the candidates featured in the film), Pascaline Lepeltier of Rouge Tomate, Jordan Salcito of Momofuku and Laura Maniec of Corkbuzz chose and poured the wines for the party.

Wise said he became ‘pretty obsessive’ over the three years of filming.

‘On opening night, for both superstition and because I like them, the crew and I will be drinking major wines that appear in the film: Ruinart Champagne, Beringer Private Reserve and Clare Valley Riesling.’

SOMM is distributed by Samuel Goldwyn Films and is available on iTunes.

Written by Maggie Rosen

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