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Mondovino Malbec - A Brief Movie Detour
Copyright 2005 by Robin Garr. All rights reserved. Originally printed August 4, 2005. For more information go to

I've been enjoying a lot of Argentine Malbec recently, including the tasty and affordable 2003 Budini from Mendoza that was featured in the July 20 Wine Advisor, and a large batch of Argentine wine and food sampled over the weekend ...more about that coming soon.

Today, though, let's take a brief side trip to talk about a Malbec that put me in mind of the movie Mondovino.

Anyone who's followed the discussions about film maker Jonathan Nossiter's documentary about the wine business on our Wine Lovers' Discussion Group might have concluded that it's a film about the American wine critic Robert M. Parker Jr. or the French "flying wine maker" Michel Rolland. It's not. In fact, Parker plays a cameo role at most in Mondovino; and Rolland's somewhat more frequent appearances merely underscore a point through comic relief, sort of like Sir John Falstaff's role in Henry IV.

What Mondovino is about, really, is the corporate-driven trend toward internationalization and globalization in the world of wine, and the resistance to this movement among some smaller, more artisanal wine makers who want to make wines that reflect a sense of place ("terroir") and the wine enthusiasts who prefer those wines and don't want to see them lost in a sea of sameness.

Nossiter's sympathies clearly lie in the latter camp, and if the movie - as I observed in my June 27 review - is more reminiscent of a wine-scented version of Michael Moore's polemic Fahrenheit 9/11 than it is of Alexander Payne's wacky Sideways, it's still worth watching, with appropriate skepticism, for one point of view into an important wine-industry issue that may ultimately affect what's in all of our glasses.

Which brings us back to today's featured wine, Bodegas Norton 2002 Mendoza Malbec Reserve, a Malbec that some people might like more than I did. Made in a distinctly "international" style, big and strong, it speaks strongly of ripe blueberry milkshakes and sweet oak but not at all of earth or place. It could be an Argentine Malbec, an Australian Shiraz, a Sicilian Nero d'Avola or even a Santa Barbara Pinot Noir, and it would taste pretty much the same

I have no idea whether Parker adored it or Rolland helped make it ... but it wouldn't surprise me at all to learn that they did.

The Mondovino DVD is now available from for $22.49, a 25 percent saving from the $29.99 list price. (Purchases made using this exact link will pay a small commission to


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