Not everyone was a fan of Jonathan Nossiter’s film Mondovino, but it’s hard to believe that 10 years have passed since its release. Now, Nossiter has returned to the subject of wine with a very different sort of documentary, the theme being very broadly similar but relayed in a very different way. It is a slow-paced, relatively static 84 minutes capturing the conversations and lives of a group of artisan and ‘natural’ wine producers in Italy (one described as “a radical farmer poet,”) along with the curator of the Cineteca of Bologna, Gian Luca Farinelli,a passionate film historian. Nossiter attempts to draw parallels, and does through entirely by ‘eavesdropping’ on conversations amongst this group and following them as they wander through vineyards and tell their stories. It’s a far more wistful film than Mondovino, though I’m not sure it is any more compelling. It’s available to buy on DVD from 27th July. More information at www.sodapictures.com
A slice of pineapple with your Champagne?
No, the suggestion doesn’t come from some more money than sense rapper with dubious taste, but direct from one of the most prestigious Champagne houses, Veuve Clicquot. The company has recently launched Veuve Clicquot ‘Rich’, designed specifically as a mixing base for cocktails with some of VCs own suggested ingredients for cocktails including not only pineapple, but everything from bell pepper to leaf tea. At its launch in Toronto, Veuve Cliquot’s president Jean-Marc Gallot said: “We believe Clicquot should always move forward. Tradition is good in life, but in this challenging world, we have to push the boundaries.” The wine sells for around £40 per bottle and a special web site gives recipies and serving suggestions at rich.veuve-clicquot.com. Heavens above.
Mis en bouteille en Orkney
Tales don’t come stranger than this, but though unlikely, it’s true. Vallet Frères has joined forces with Orkney playwright and wine merchant Duncan McLean to celebrate the staging of his tale of 19th Century gin smuggling on the island. His play, ‘Telling The Truth Beautifully’, had a four-night run at the St Magnus International Festival in Orkney, relating the tale of the importation of a barrel of gin by a former owner of McLean’s wine merchant business in the 19th century. Having ‘forgotten’ to pay duty and tax on the spirit shipped from Holland by a smuggler, the subsequent trial when he was caught was one of the most sensational Orkney had ever seen – the merchant being fined the equivalent of more than £70,000 in today’s money. When he heard this tale, Bernard Vallet sprang into action to recreate it with McLean, only this time with a barrel of Bourgogne Rouge, a barrel of which was rolled through the streets of Kirkwall before being bottled as 294 bottles and six magnums labelled as ‘mis en bouteille en Orkney’.
Big bucks for Coravin
It’s fair to say that a wine preservation system called ‘Coravin’ has taken the wine service industry by storm: restaurants, bars and wine retailers have been unaminously positive in praising the effectiveness of the system which injects an inert gas through the cork of an unopened bottle to pressurise it, then allows a measure of wine to pour out. Once the needle is withdrawn, the cork naturally seals behind it. The company has just announced a that it has raised $13.6 million in funding to fuel research, development and market expansion.The funding round was led by Windham Venture Partners, based in New York, with renewed support from its other main shareholder, Quadrille Capital, which is based in Paris and led the previous round. The company has raised over $39 million to date. “We are committed to the talented and dedicated team at Coravin,” commented Windham Venture’s CEO Adam Fine. “They have made great progress in commercialising a game-changing technology for the wine industry not just for aficionados, restaurants, and vineyards, but for consumers of all types who simply want to enjoy wine in an innovative way. My own Coravin System has transformed the way I enjoy my own wines.”
The Chinese Lexicon Project
A two year long research initiative funded by the Australian Grape and Wine Authority has revealed what terms Chinese consumers use when describing a wine and what Asian fruit and vegetable flavours are equivalent to the Western ones used to describe wine. The project involved more than 250 Chinese wine consumers from Shanghai, Guangzhou and Chengdu. The participants described the taste of a selection of Australian white, red, sparkling and dessert wine choosing from a series of generic wine descriptors as well as choosing from a list of specific fruit and vegetable flavours. These flavours were either Western fruit and vegetables or proposed Chinese equivalents. The research found that generic wine descriptors, such as “mellow” or “fruity” were three times more likely to be chosen than specific wine descriptors. Project leader Dr Corsi says that wine has been predominantly described in China using Western terminology but such descriptors lack meaning if the consumer has little or no experience of tasting that particular fruit, vegetable or spice. “We can now say that the equivalent to blackberry preserve is dried Chinese hawthorns,” is one example he quotes, adding “There is the potential for similar research to be undertaken in other countries to determine what cultural descriptors they would use to describe the taste of different wines.”