Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Review of the Wine Documentary: "Somm: Into the Bottle"

Being a sommelier, I was really happy to hear that a sequel to the original documentary "Somm", would have been made this year. It often happens that sequels are of lesser quality than the original. However,  "Somm: Into the Bottle" has improved from the original "Somm", which focused mostly on the studies behind the qualification of MS (Master Sommelier).

"Somm: Into the Bottle" looks at the wine industry from a much more holistic perspective. It analyzes the history of wine (including Prohibition in the US), the importance of terroir, how the weather impacts the harvest, why certain wines are more expensive than others, the role of the sommelier, as well as food and wine pairing. It does this by dividing the documentary into chapters and bringing the audience to different parts of the world, including California, Alsace, Germany and Australia. There are several Master Sommeliers that are interviewed and give deep insight into the wine business. However, what I found most interesting were the visits to wineries, during different seasons and parts of the world. I enjoyed the fact that the winemakers guide the audience into the vineyards and show their relationship with the land.

What is clear from the movie is that history and time play a crucial world in wine. Indeed, many wineries have been passed down from generation to generation, keeping tradition but also adapting to modernity. At the same, despite wars (e.g. World War II), several bottles have been stocked in the cellars for decades (and centuries in some cases) and have improved with age. In particular, there is a quote from winemaker Jean Louis Chave from Hermitage, southern France, which is quite telling: "People come and go, but the vineyard is still around (...). When we open a bottle, we taste it and go back to what happened from now all the way to back then". For him, in particular, the year 1969 was particularly significant as it was the first vintage after his birth. This is why his father kept some of these bottles for him. One can see the emotion that the winemaker feels in tasting that 1969 bottle.

In short, this movie shows well and holistically the wine industry today, focusing on the role of the sommelier, with an international focus. I would suggest to watch it while tasting a fortified wine. In my case it was a Terre Arse Marsala 2001, dry with nutty and dried figs notes. This wine, I must admit, aged very well too.
Location: Londra, Regno Unito