A Vineyard Marathon


Wine is more than once extolled as the essence of civilization in Jonathan Nossiter’s DV documentary. The major point of this vineyard marathon is that civilization is inexorably succumbing to the homogenizing forces of globalization. Mondovino is mainly bathed in Mediterranean light, but the movie justifies its travelogue title with jaunts to California and northeast Brazil. Nossiter subscribes to the anti-globalist notion that terroir—literally soil, but more generally the site-specific geological qualities of a particular vineyard—is more important than the label on the bottle. Mondovino has its own particular terroir. The mode is jagged, informal, and highly personal. Nossiter frequently puts himself on-screen, and in an unarticulated running joke, never resists a close-up of some indulged canine slobbering over the cheese. The handheld camera, slightly saturated colors, and constant wine chat provide a mildly inebriated feel that, given the movie’s rambling structure and leisurely length, slides easily into disorientation. Nossiter has an eye for stray details and a knack for relaxing his subjects—although the scene with the naked guy trampling his own grapes may make you sorry that you ever gave up drinking Ripple.

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