Tuesday, January 26, 2010

BBC - Wine

Documentary series about the wine industry.

Episode 1 - The Firm
Takes a look behind the scenes at Berry Brothers and Rudd, the oldest and poshest wine merchant in the world.

After 310 years of business there is still a Mr Berry at the helm as bombs, wars, kings and queens have come and gone, but this charmed existence may be under threat as the credit crunch bites deep. The film unwittingly becomes a chronicle of the changing world order, where the super-rich look alarmingly as though they are about to turn into the ancient regime.

Quaint anachronism it might seem from the outside, but this is the firm that turned fine wine into the sine qua non of the super-rich. Everyone here, from Berry's larger-than-life Bordeaux and Burgundy buyers to the eccentric and ambitious chateau owners and producers they do business with, services what seemed to be the ever-increasing demand for the finest wines available to humanity, until the rot creeps in and threatens three centuries of history.

Episode 2 - The Faith

Charts the creation of the 2008 vintage at Margaux, arguably the world's greatest wine estate.

Corinne Mentzelopoulos, daughter of a Greek supermarket tycoon, introduces us to the chateau her family has owned for the past 30 years, as everyone from vineyard worker to chief winemaker looks anxiously at a sky which appears hell-bent on making the year a wretched one. One bottle of this cult wine can cost up to 1,000 pounds a bottle if the vintage is good, but the quality of the vintage is always in the lap of the weather gods.

Blessed by sunshine and a soaring economy in previous years, Margaux has turned itself into the world's luxury wine. From the inside, we track the meticulous cultivation of a top-notch brand, with Margaux's urbane director Paul Pontallier serving the role of chief evangelist as we follow him all the way to China where he is almost mobbed by devotees of Margaux.

Episode 3 - The Future

This episode looks at how the importance of the industry to South Africa's future and why, despite a history that stretches back to the 17th century, it still hasn't decided what its identity should be.

Oupa Rangaka and Mark Solms are unlikely two wine producers. Six years ago, Oupa, a retired philosophy professor, didn't even drink wine, let alone make it. Today he and his family, including three-year-old grandson Kwena, are the only black people to own a vineyard in South Africa. Its survival depends on their ongoing relationship with Marks and Spencer and convincing the judges at London's International Wine Challenge that their pinotage passes muster.

Mark is a world-renowned neuroscientist who inherited the family business, and is struggling to reconcile his idealistic plans for the farm with the practical realities of post-apartheid South Africa. He worries that the harvest festival he is organising may degenerate into an orgy of violence and drunkenness

Via the struggles of these two remarkable men, wine becomes a prism through which to view the current state of the Rainbow Nation.



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