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Top 10 wine films

As Christmas rapidly approaches & evenings in become more of a scarcity,  a good film can provide a welcome excuse to cosy up & lay low. Wine films often get fairly mixed reviews, so we’ve compiled a top 10 of varying levels of wine-focus; worthy, we feel, of opening a bottle & settling in for the night.

 

1. A Good Year (2006)

 

A wine-lovers’ take the good life as British investment broker Max (Russell Crowe) inherits his uncle’s chateau vineyard in Provence. Trading in desk for vines, we see Max reliving his childhood & becoming softened by the vines & pace of life. Beautifully shot (directed by Ridley Scott) & a fine ode to Provence.

Drink: A Provence rosé would be the obvious choice!

 

2. Mondovino (2004)

 

Documentary that tracks the effect of globalization on the wine world, specifically how capitalization & ego can control markets. It’s polarizing fare, as its’ long & really goes to town on some of the major characters in wine (Michel Rolland, Robert Mondavi & Robert Parker respectively). Hones in on their dogs when things get a bit close to the bone. Worth embarking on if the above titillates.

Drink: depends what camp you want to sit on: a rustic Sicilian Nero d’Avolo or a bold Californian number. Luckily it’s long enough for both.

 

3. The Secret of Santa Vittoria (1969)

 

Set in an Italian village during WW2, this beautiful old film tracks the battle of wits & bottles between the village mayor & occupying German forces who want to take all of their wine which the villagers have hidden in a secret cave. The Germans are given a few thousand bottles, but know there is a lot more lurking somewhere.

Drink: well a Nebbiola or Barbera d’Alba of course

 

4. A year in Burgundy (2011)

 

Follows California-dwelling native-Burgundian Martine Saunier on her trips back home over the course of a year in doing so giving a rare insight into some of the oldest families in Burgundy. The love & dedication of the vignerons, from La Romanee Conti’s Lalou Bize-Leroy who is still involved in every aspect of the making of her wines, despite being in her 80s; to Dominique Cornin’s assertion that he really does have the best job in the world as he roams around on his horse carriage through his vines. A beautiful & extremely touching glimpse of an extremely specialist area.

Drink: well I hardly need say, when you see the passion that goes into it’s creation, you will appreciate all the more.

 

5. Tu seras mon fils (You will be my son) (2011)

 

From Burgundy to Bordeaux, 2011 was quite the year for the 2 French greats. Although rather than a documentary, here we have a French film with all the tensions & passions we have grown to expect. Set in a fictional right bank estate, Tu seras mon fils sees the estates domineering patriarch set his down-trodden son against an upstart young winemaker in a battle for its inheritance. With cameos from the real estate (Clos Fourtet, as Bordeaux officionados will notice), this feels like a fictional trip down reality lane.

Drink: Clos Fourtet if you’re feeling like pushing the boat out, but anything from St Emilion could suffice

 

6. French Kiss (1995)

 

Kevin Kline as the (not-so) prodigal son of a family of Loire winemakers who comes to the aid of fiancé in distress Meg Ryan on her way to France to confront her straying husband to be. Kline sits next to her on the flight, planting a stolen diamond necklace & vine cutting in her bag. After a comedy of deceptions, Kline & Ryan, travel through France on a few more, with sweeping vineyards providing a stunning backdrop to their respective games. Full of gallic reference, both the charming & the less so.

Drink: A good Loire should do the trick

 

7. This Earth is Mine (1959)

 

A wonderfully twisted melodrama set at the end of the prohibition, portraying the issues that divided Napa valley in the 1930s. Claude Rains is patriarch of a Napa family who still insists on making wine every year, seeing it as a gift from god.   His wayward & callous grandson is determined to shift the grapes to bootleggers in Chicago instead. A telling & eerily resonant tale for the modern day.

Drink: Well probably an Inglenook Rubicon (where it was filmed), to stay true to its roots.

 

8. Red Obsession (2013)

Russell Crowe takes the viewer on a moody & atmospheric journey across the continents, starting in Bordeaux & ending in China, or does it? Red Obsession is a beautifully shot Australian documentary that addresses the soaring Asian-Bordeaux relationship & the bubbles it creates, both financial & emotional. With interviews across the industry, wine is given an almost mythical quality & cultural juxtapositions, although rather simplistic, do all the talking they need to; obsession being a friend most fickle in nature.

Drink: A Bordeaux worth obsessing about.. (there are many!)

 

9. Somm (2013)

 

Documentary following 4 men’s quest to become master sommeliers; real people trying to follow their passion under immense pressure, devoting their lives & sometimes sanity, to the humble grape. Since its inception 40 years ago, only 200 candidates have reached top sommelier level & here we see way, alongside unprecedented access to a world normally shrouded in secrecy. A voyeuristic tale via the lenses of hope, friendship & obsession.

Drink: Anything. But make sure you’ve done your homework.

 

10. Sideways (2004)

 

Comedy/drama following 2 middle-aged men & respective crises on a road trip through California’s Santa Ynez vineyards. Miles (Paul Giamatti) is a struggling writer in life-rut & his friend Jack is a cad about to get married. Wine divides then brings them back together, becoming an extended metaphor for their friendship.

Drink: Califonian Pinot Noir. Lots of it.

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