Monday, July 29, 2013

Documentary Review: Boom Varietal

The best chefs in the world are those who commit their lives to always be a student of food and accepting that they won't know everything.  Chef's take this endless education on as a challenge and use every opportunity as a tool for learning something new.  In the wine industry, this similar type of thought is helpful, but it is applied to a much more fickle subject: the grape.

To begin to know and understand wine, often the submersion technique is recommended, highly regarded for its participation element.  But the isles in the wine shops and the array of names can overwhelm even the more savvy of wine drinkers and so often the submersion process can create a wine-rut for people who stop trying new wines, after finally finding one they like.

But here's what wine neophytes are rarely told: the secret charm to wine is its story.  All wine has a romantic, war-like story of survival that speaks, not only of the grape, but of the maker.  As is the case of Argentinean Malbec.   

Malbec grapes are originally from France and are one of the six grapes allowed in Bordeaux.  In the 19th century Domingo Faustino Sarmiento, an Argentinean statesman had Frenchman and agronomist Miguel Pouget bring a variety of grapevines from France to Argentina.  One of the vines brought back was Malbec and it thrived in the Argentinean weather as it is especially susceptible to grape diseases and sensitive to frost.

Argentina was a large wine-producing area, but in the 80's the international demand for wine exploded leaving Argentina behind in quality.  For the next 15 years, Argentina made great strides to increase their quality and the world increased their consumption of international wines.  In 2002 when the peso was devalued by 75% and Argentina was in an economical crisis, an odd thing happened.

At this time, Shiraz was the much sought after wine, but due to its popularity (or 'boom') it was being mass produced, which affected the quality.  So people started looking around for better quality.  They found it in the less expensive, hand bottled Malbec wines of Mendoza, Argentina.

Sky Pinnick's documentary Boom Varietal takes a 360-look at Malbec wine, where it came from and how it has gained the momentum in popularity over the last ten years.  Boom Varietal goes into the wineries of Mendoza and shares the generations of Argentinean wine makers who share their beautiful stories on how they created a champion out of an underdog and how Malbec, in-turn, saved Argentina.

Pinnick's beautiful shots of Argentina's landscape and the amazing soundtrack propel the viewer into the warm climate and daily gamble that is, the wine business and how at any point in time-the 'boom' could cease.

Complete with nay-sayers and those who have lost-it-all trying to ride Malbec's coattails, Boom Varietal gives you all the dirt and romance of a war-story played out over the years in Argentina.  For those looking to expand their knowledge of wine or add a vacation destination to their passport-Boom Varietal gives the viewer a brief look inside the world that is, Argentinean Malbec.

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