In a perfect world, Jonathan Nossiter's documentary Mondovino would impel as many tourists to Burgundy as those following Miles and Jack's sodden strides through Santa Barbara wine country in Sideways. But where Alexander Payne's Oscar-winner appeases, Mondovino agitates—it's a radical film from a radical filmmaker, a spear at the heart of wine and film industries alike, and a tour de force of investigative journalism. (It opens at Film Forum March 23; see J. Hoberman's review.) Over four years and eight countries, the trained sommelier Nossiter—whose previous films include the Sundance prizewinner Sunday and the anti-globalist tract Signs & Wonders—dipped his tipsy-cam into the zany demimonde of winemakers, critics, and their dogs. The result isn't just a film: Mondovino, which praises cosmopolitanism over globalism, is a way of life.


New York wine importer Neal Rosenthal, one of the most eloquent and passionate "terroirists" in Jonathan Nossiter's Mondovino, describes the wine industry's ongoing battle between small local producers and globalized big money as one between "the resistance and the collaborators." Rosenthal, who met Nossiter when the filmmaker-sommelier was consulting on the wine list for Balthazar several years ago, has been mounting his own resistance for nearly three decades now, searching the vineyards of France and Italy for artisanal makers who share his appreciation of wine as an agricultural product. "We work directly with people who grow their own grapes," he says. "There's an old saying that 90 percent of the wine is made in the vineyard. I look for wines that express their own terroir—the sense of a place—and the particularities of a vintage. And I'm not afraid to have different wines every year—that's nature."
- bill 3-22-2005 5:29 pm

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