Losing It: El Camino del Vino (A Real Wine Movie, At Long Last?)

Vinted on July 19, 2010 binned in commentary

Sommelier and wine educator Charlie Arturaola and film directors Nicolás Carreras & Sebastián Carreras may just be putting together the most intimate wine movie yet made, and one that finally may have just the kind of reality-show crossover appeal to gain success among wine pros, wine geeks, and non wine-lovers alike.

At least, that’s the sense that I got from viewing the well-made trailer for El Camino del Vino (“The Ways of Wine” – with “Ways” taking on multiple nuances of meaning).

Like all promising films, El Camino del Vino starts with disaster and conflict, and promises to end with redemption. For wine pros and budding wine enthusiasts, the premise of the film is particularly terrifying (emphasis is mine):

“Charlie travels to Argentina invited to do tastings at the prestigious Masters of Food and Wine event at the Park Hyatt Hotel in Mendoza. Before the festivities begin at the Masters, Charlie is shooting a publicity spot for a wine and disaster strikes.  The combination of the pace of the shoot and a red dye used to enhance the photographic contrast and deepen the color of the wine, provoke the complete loss of his palate.”

I imagine that the loss of Charlie’s ability to taste wine critically echoes a deeper fear for many, many people in the modern industrial working world: What do you do when you lose the very thing upon which you rely to make your living?

I’ve met Charlie and he is warm, friendly, knowledgeable and approachable – exactly the kind of guy to whom you wouldn’t want this sort of thing to happen.  And it didn’t – not in real life, anyway.  But based on the trailer for El Camino del Vino, Charlie puts in a convincing performance, especially for someone who makes his living on wine and not via acting.  After seeing the trailers, I’m stoked to try to see this film when it gets released in August.

I caught up with Charlie last week (via e-mail and in-between trips for both of us) to briefly talk about the film and how he went about playing the part of himself.  Check out the trailer and the short interview below…

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Weekly Twitter Wine Mini-Reviews Round-up for 2010-07-17

Vinted on July 17, 2010 binned in wine mini-reviews
  • 08 Jordan Chardonnay (Russian River Valley): A complicated dame w/ huge peaches; sweet as vanilla, but she has a big acid streak too. $29 B+ #
  • 09 Gavalas Assyrtiko (Santorini): Distinctive blue bottle houses a not-so-distinctive but ultimately solid & mineral-driven white. $24 B- #
  • 08 Gavalas Nyktiri (Santorini): Quite simply the tastiest, most balanced & nuanced Nykteri-style Assyrtiko I’ve come across. Bravo. $24 A- #
  • 08 Gavalas “Xenoloo” (Santorini): Trying to decide whether it’s a red or a rose, while you’re waiting (impatiently) & at your expense. €5 C+ #
  • 03 Gavalas Vinsanto (Santorini): A very fresh but decidedly less complex take on the standard Santorini caramel & dried fig goodness. $35 B+ #
  • 03 Jordan Cabernet Sauvignon (Alexander Valley): Everything’s just *a hair* too heavy-handed in this jammy, licorice-infused blend. $55 B+ #
  • 09 SantoWines Athiri: Comes across like a really decent CA Sauv. Blanc. Alas, production is way too low for the U.S. to ever see this €11. B #
  • 09 SantoWines Assyrtiko (Santorini): Offering of lemons, grapefruit, & floral perfume that’s as solid as the wet rocks in the finish. $18 B #
  • 09 SantoWines Nykteri (Santorini): Equally as solid as its non-oaked Assyrtiko counterpart. Balance (praise Zeus!) rules the day here. $18 B #
  • 03 SantoWines Assyrtiko (Santorini): Organic vineyards & nearly orgasmic with honey, petrol, nuts & crisp mineralty. Downright elegant. A- #

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Terroir At The Edge Of The World (In The Vineyards of Santorini)

Vinted on July 15, 2010 binned in on the road

Peering out across the ancient caldera into the Agean from just about any spot on top of the beautiful Greek island of Santorini, you could be forgiven for mistaking the place for the edge of the world.

And when I say “beautiful” I don’t mean beautiful in the “my backyard garden is beautiful” sense of the word; I mean beautiful in the “top ten most beautiful places on planet Earth” kind of beautiful. It might be the edge of the world, but after spending any appreciable amount of time on this one big photo-op of a rock, you might also be forgiven for literally treating as the world’s edge, in so far as never wanting to travel any farther ever again.

If you’d been here in Minoan times, it very well may have seemed like the end of the world, if not its edge.

It was during this time, some 3,600 years ago, that the caldera as we know it today – possibly the world’s largest, stretching some 18 kilometers – was largely formed, the result of an eruption so massive that it has been linked to the sinking of Atlantis and the parting of the Red/Reed Sea during Moses’ flight from Egypt.

The resulting spew of earth and volcanic matter covered Santorini in almost 50 meters of volcanic rock and ash; for a few hundred years afterward, nothing could live there.

The effects of that massive and violent eruption are still felt today – they are directly responsible for the uniqueness and potential of Santorini’s wine.

Of course, you could get a similar overview from a history book, brochure, or Wikipedia; the difference here being that I spent several days on Santorini last week, walked those stony, ashy vineyards, and tasted my way through the direct impact of the islands soil and climate…

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