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Monday, 11 March 2013

Chinese Wine in the Voice of Russell Crowe

A new documentary film about China’s fixation on Bordeaux as a symbol of wealth and power

Unfiltered was given an exclusive sneak preview of Red Obsession this week, a new documentary film about China’s fixation on Bordeaux as a symbol of wealth and power, which premieres at the Berlin Film Festival Feb. 13. The all-Australian production by Warwick Ross and David Roach scores for high production value and casting Russell Crowe as the narrator (we would listen to that sexy, rumbling voice describe wine labels drying). On screen, the Aussies filmed thoroughly engaging interviews with négociant and grower Christian Moueix and Château Palmer's Thomas Duroux, as well as cameos by Francis Ford Coppola, Lafite's Charles Chevallier, Margaux's Corinne Mentzelopoulos and Latour's Frédéric Engerer. Overall, the film is a good primer on a swiftly evolving relationship, but it’s already dated. The scope is narrow, focusing on first-growths Margaux, Lafite, Latour and third-growth Palmer, with noticeable no-shows by Mouton and Haut-Brion. Moueix holds up his end representing the Right Bank, but there’s no real exploration of the négociants that actually sell the wine to the Chinese, and very little input from Lafite, even though the wine gets a lot of screen time. Of course, it wouldn’t be about Bordeaux if there wasn’t some wince-inducing hyperbole, and the clichés about ultrarich Chinese wine investors titillate then tire—an interview segment with highly regarded wine collector Peter Tseng is intercut with clips of the sex toys on which he made his fortune coming off the production line, and the oversimplified depiction of Chinese collector George Tong, interviewed standing next to boxes of head-bobbing plastic dolls made by his company and comparing Bordeaux to Disneyland, borders on insulting. "It is an interview-based film," Tong told Unfiltered. "I may not agree to everything the interviewees said. I know some of them. They said things maybe because of his or her profession or maybe she or he wanted to exaggerate things." But there are some really worthwhile moments in Red Obsession, particularly the images from China and the interview with Fongyee Walker, an English-Chinese consultant who offers insight into the complex East-West dynamic that is changing the wine world.
In other wine documentary news, filmmaker Jason Wise's Somm, which follows four Master Sommelier candidates through their preparation for the big exam, has been picked up by Samuel Goldwyn Films for a national release this summer. Somm was the opening film at this past November's Napa Valley Film Festival and played to a standing ovation at the Santa Barbara International Film Festival in January.
Source: Wine Spectator