This sprawling documentary explores the struggles of family vineyards as they confront globalized McWineries. Napa Valley’s Robert Mondavi is the film’s symbol of modernization, developing most of its flavor from lab techniques rather than terroir — the combination of vine, region and soil that characterizes French wine. This mass production is why, in the words of one French winemaker, "Wine is dead."
Such declarations are part of Mondovino’s charm, but Nossiter is interested in more than the personalities of old-world wineries and portrays their ideas about wine as noble and foolish compared with the marketing savvy of Californians and American-influenced European companies.
But at two and half hours, the film’s attentive style strains the narrative structure. At its best moments — and there are many — this is a Zola-esque tableau of class and change, but too often it becomes a poorly edited home movie.
Opens March 23