10-11-2014

A review of “Natural Resistance”

At the press screening night for the Most Festival, I had the chance to see “Natural Resistance” at the Filmoteca in Barcelona. I was very excited to see the screening as Jonathan Nossiter’s previous documentary on the wine world, “Mondovino” was released a decade ago. A seminal film, it took him five years to shoot and tore open the sordid commercialism of wine and I posit that this film, along with a medley of other writers and opinion makers is responsible for the large sea of change we’re starting to witness in the wine world in regards to trying to take the “industry” out of something that has been with us as long as taxation and prostitution.

So it was with great excitement that I went in to see this film last week as love or hate the “natural” wine movement, it’s pointing a way to the future and the core of this documentary talks about this. I came out sorely disappointed. The film felt shallow and removed with little extrapolation of the subject. Sure, there were winemakers from different regions of Italy talking about their woes in making wines the non-industrial way, but these just came across as random, flat chats. At the Q&A after the show, Nossiter stated that the interviews and chats took place over four days so yes, this isn’t a mistake.

I would never say that you need years to weed out a proper narrative for a documentary, but this felt rushed and without much substance and the last 10 minutes or so are the only part that hold value and form what should have been the beginning of the film. The winemakers didn’t come across as terribly thrilled to even really be discussing the subject. While one winemaker stating, “No, we don’t make ‘natural wine’, we just make wine.” could be seen as the spirit behind the movement, I took it to be a winemaker who tired of the subject and not particularly in to Nossiter’s filming in general.

Given that material comes across as incredibly thin 84 minutes, Nossiter seemed to want filler that came in form of various mid-20th century movie clips strewn about the film at inopportune moments, sometimes breaking up the narrative and at others seeming like non sequitur fluff. At first I thought maybe I was seriously missing something as the film is mostly in Italian and had Catalan subtitles but a cine file friend who watched the film said she felt the same way and two other reviews said essentially the same thing (sorry, they’re in French.)

The more unfortunate aspect to this film is that the “natural” wine cult will probably grab a hold of it and hail it as true propaganda for the movement. This will be despite none of them getting it either, but their being too afraid to admit it much like admitting that wine without sulfides that goes through additional fermentation in the bottle is piss wine.

The only thing that was truly on point was when a member of the audience asked what the message of the film was and Nossiter stated, “The film doesn’t have a message.” To this, I agree as it’s a generally rambling collection of sound and images that won’t help anyone to understand “natural” wine nor does it make for pleasant viewing. I just hope that the next time Nossiter makes a film about wine, he applies the same passion that we saw with Mondovino. I truly recommend anyone to watch this film who hasn’t seen it.

WINES

Ancestral Wine Cellar - Khikhvi 2014 95
First harvest of Khikhvi. Light apricot notes, peach skin, lemon peel. Citric in the mouth, fresh, lively acidity, vibrant. Very holistic, full and deliciously good.
100% Khikhvi · 12% · 30GEL
95 3 Stars

Petriaant Marani - Khikhvi 2015 94
Bruised red apple, touch of lemon peel, limestone minerality, and some white pepper notes at the back of it. High acidity and full in the mouth. Luscious, involving, elegant wine.
100% Khikhvi · 14% · 25GEL
94 3 Stars

Domaine Augustin - Adéodat Blanc 2016 93
Lemon and white peach, strong kick of salinity, and toasted notes. Very fleshy and full on the palate, peach notes more prominent as well as Meyer lemon, medium plus acidity and a lengthy finish.
100% Grenache Gris · 14.5% · 20EUR
93 2 Stars

AA Badenhorst - Secateurs Red Blend 2012 93
Forest bramble with ripe red fruit, touches of cherry, ripe red plum, tiny bit of prune, cumin, anise, black licorice, wet cement mineral note, underlying fig jam. Crisp medium plus acidity, medium tannins, medium plus length, medium alcohol, overall medium plus body that’s ripe and lively but super fresh and balanced at the same time. Bit of rugged wildness to it but doesn’t get out of hand. Easy to drink but with just enough underlying complexity so that it stays interesting.
56% Syrah 27% Cinsaut 6% Grenache 4% Cabernet Sauvignon 7% "Others" · 13.5% · 12EUR
93 2 Stars

Domaine Treloar - Motus 2015 93
Dark ruby, minor rim. Big, mighty bouquet of red cherry and other brambly forest fruit, vanilla, almond blossom, orange peel, and cocoa. Rich and full on the palate with a wealth of tannins still integrating, leading into a crunchy, lingering finish.
80% Mourvèdre 10% Syrah 10% Grenache · 14% · 14EUR
93 2 Stars

Domaine of the Bee - Cuvée 2015 93
Ruby with minor garnet rim. Rich red fruits with an underpinning of ripe plum, orange peel, licorice, cocoa. Broad, round tannins with a touch of toast and sweet cocoa in a long finish. Manages to stay very light on the palate despite the higher alcohol.
50% Grenache 50% Carignan · 15% · 25EUR
93 2 Stars

Tchotiashvili - Khikhvi 2014 93
Apricot, yellow peach, orange peel, and a touch of honey. Quite complex aromatically. Orchard fruit much more prevalent in the mouth with young apricot notes. Rich and elegant, touch of astringency in the finish.
100% Khikhvi · 13.1% · 28GEL
93+ 3 Stars

Domaine Augustin - Adéodat Rouge 2015 92
Medium ruby. Fresh red cherry, raspberry, and young strawberry, lifted and breathy, saline tinge along with light stoniness and rosemary and garrigue. Fresh red fruit on the palate, medium acidity but still light on the palate, fresh, and while the alcohol sticks out a little, holds and excellent, long finish.
Grenache Carignan Mourvèdre · 14.5% · 20EUR
92 2 Stars

Domaine Fontanel - Prieuré 2014 92
Dense ruby with brick flecks. Crisp red fruits, lifted by a waft of volatility making for a light nose with a spicy licorice and leather component. Crisp and lively with red cherry fruit in the mouth and a nudge over medium acidity. Nice, lingering finish.
50% Syrah 25% Grenache 25% Mourvèdre · 14.5%
92 2 Stars

Cave Abbé Rous - Cornet & Cie Blanc 2016 92
Peach, orange peel & blossom, honey, dried apricot, and a hint of green apple. Very nicely balance in the mouth, green apple notes more prevalent, medium plus acidity and a lengthy finish. Fresh, lively, very pleasing wine to drink.
60% Grenache Gris 25% Grenache Blanc 5% Marsanne 5% Roussanne 5% Vermentino · 14.5%
92 2 Stars