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MONDOVINO

If Sideways is wineís buddy movie, Mondovino is its shockumentary. Jonathan Nossiterís survey of industry globalization travels to Italy, France, South America, and the USA to show how traditional winemaking methods are vanishing as wealthy corporations buy up hectares from small European vineyards. Traveling "consultant" Michel Rolland teaches modern fermentation techniques that produce homogenized flavors and the loss of "terroir," that distinctive blend of soil, sun, and location. Ah, but Rollandís "improvements" earn mediocre wines high ratings from pretentious wine critic Robert Parker, and cynical French shopkeepers admit that a high score in the Wine Spectator doubles sales. Fellow critic James Suckling smugly opines that "our parents wore Hermès, we wear Armani" to justify his preference for generic Italian wines over particularized French ones. Wine is "blood, poetry, passion," says Languedoc vintner Aimé Guibert, a grizzled purist, "but wine is dead." Napa-based Robert Mondavi talks of "changing with the times," his blinding tennis whites beaming affluence. This ideological split is the heart of this ambitious, visually eloquent film, by turns a charming, celebratory ramble and a provocative, cautionary ode. In English and French, Spanish, Italian, and Portuguese with English subtitles. (135 minutes)

BY PEG ALOI

Issue Date: April 15 - 21, 2005
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