Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Ways of Wine

"The Ways of Wine" is a new film by Argentine filmmaker Nicholas Carerras about Miami-based sommelier Charlie Arturaola, who travels to the Mendoza wine country in Argentina to participate in a typical international wine event, the kind of tasting event that many wine professionals take part in every year. Except nothing about this journey is typical. Charlie, the tasting master, loses his way. After realizing that he's "lost his palate," and cannot taste anything, he seeks help from a variety of well-known wine professionals such as French consulting winemaker Michel Rolland and winemaker Susana Balbo (playing themselves), but nothing works.
 Charlie finally undertakes a new kind of journey to connect with his family in Uruguay that results in an extended, poignant last scene that restores not only Charlie but also a belief in family, wine and the joys of life.
 Blending fact and fiction, the film uses innovative camera work and the lovely backdrop of the Mendoza wine country. One of the most arresting things about it is the way director Carreras coaxes natural performances from the cast --- none of them professional actors.
 "The Ways of Wine" is one of the best of the recent crop of "wine movies" from the last few years. I saw it at the inaugural Napa Valley Film Festival last weekend. It will be distributed in the U.S. by Shoreline Entertainment, but so far there are no dates for theatrical showings. Look out for it.