I went expecting to learn more about the this thick-skinned, dark purple wine-producing grape, but was astounded instead by the film's back story, the "Other Stories of Wine," in which many long time grape growers with a passion for their land are facing the very sad prospect of losing everything. Many of the scenes tug at the heart strings and, just a little over a year into what more and more looks like a Depression, things will probably only get worse.
In Zev Robinson's film, there is lots of talk about converting to produce "quality" wines from the big, thick-skinned grape Bobal, a grape that was used to provide alcohol and color for train tankloads of bulk wines that were shipped from La Grao, the port of Valencia, where large warehouses that once held huge quantities of wine awaiting shipment were recently covered into hangars to house the sailing vessels that competed in the last edition of the America's Cup.
There were many memorable scenes in La Bobal, which I will report more on later when I have a chance to go back over the film (Zev gave me a copy). One of the most striking statements was made by a grape grower who was talking about being paid more money for high alcohol content potential in their grapes, less for lower potential. The irony is that no one mentioned that this high alcohol incentive is still being done at a time when people are rebelling against heavy wines with high alcohol.
The very sincere sounding Bruno Murciano is the same young man chosen by Pancho Campo as the head sommelier at Parker's Garnacha tasting in La Rioja at WinePast-Aragón 1899* on November 12 & 13, where only two Rioja wines were put in after immense pressure on Campo and tractor brigades are being organized for a grape price protest invasion on Logroño (and are being planned for Madrid from not just Rioja, but other regions around Spain), milliones of kilos of grapes were left on the ground during this harvest and many farmers are facing ruin.
I hasten to add that Burno Murciano is not to blame for this Garnacha fiasco in La Rioja, but the irony of Murciano's poignant lament about the diminution of per capita sales of wine in Spain as scenes of his family's modest restaurant in Utiel-Requena are shown in the film is notable.
Robinson filmed Pancho Campo's presentation at Fenavin this year, in which he told the attendees that Spain needed to conolidate efforts more like Constellation has (and by extension the big boys who support his "Spanish wine education" diploma mills and conferences) and at one point suggests that wine is missing an opportunity for selling wine in places like Burger King.
Pancho Campo's Wine Future presentation (in Spanish), pt 2 from Zev Robinson on Vimeo.
High alcohol wines cut into by the glass sales, restaurant wine sales where second bottle sales are lower because of powerhouse wine styles and even in home consumption, where even this veteran wine man often finds that he and his companion have left a third of a bottle of such wines undrunk, something we never experienced when tasting and drinking over dinner the wines of Ribeira Sacra, which average around 13% (with many at 12%-12.5%).
BTW, Ribeira Sacra sales are up 35% this year in this down market.
Gerry Dawes was awarded Spain's prestigious Premio Nacional de Gastronomía (National Gastronomy Award) in 2003. He writes and speaks frequently on Spanish wine and gastronomy and leads gastronomy, wine and cultural tours to Spain. He was a finalist for the 2001 James Beard Foundation's Journalism Award for Best Magazine Writing on Wine, won The Cava Institute's First Prize for Journalism for his article on cava in 2004, was awarded the CineGourLand prize in 2009 and received the Association of Food Journalists 2009 Second Prize for Best Food Feature in a Magazine for his Food Arts article, a retrospective piece about Catalan star chef, Ferran Adrià.
Gerry Dawes can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org; Alternate e-mail (use only if your e-mail to AOL is rejected): email@example.com