Sunday, January 02, 2005


Can't wait until March when 'Mondovino', Jonathan Nossiter's documentary about winemaking and globalisation comes to America. Nossiter's 2.5 hour paean to small vineyards and local methods has already struck a nerve with some of the large scale producers, and should continue to do so as the film gets wider distribution. It is perhaps in winemaking that the idea of "local is best" is most evident. Fine wines have almost always been identified by region and sought by educated drinkers and collectors who have known that two vineyards on opposite sides of a river valley can create radically different qualities of wine. So why now the push for homogenization? We'll see what Nossiter says, but my own guess is that the emphasis on varietals in naming (Merlot, Chardonnay, etc.) has conspired with efforts to open new markets to create global consistency of the characteristics (as defined by whom?) for those grapes. Connoiseurs will still follow terroir, which seems to be staging a comeback on its own, but in the meantime how many wonderful vineyards will be pulled up to be replanted with grapes whichcan command higher prices on the world market? Let's hope the forces for small will win out in the end.

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