Sunday 15 April, 2012

Blood Into Wine: 90+ Cine Du Vin

Blood-Into-Wine1




I sat and stared at this DVD for several months before finally watching it, and even though I have no excuse, I know exactly why. The film is a documentary about Tool/A Perfect Circle singer Maynard James Keenan’s foray into winemaking, and while I have no prejudices against career changes (Kurt Russell is making interesting […]




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Blood-Into-Wine

I sat and stared at this DVD for several months before finally watching it, and even though I have no excuse, I know exactly why. The film is a documentary about Tool/A Perfect Circle singer Maynard James Keenan’s foray into winemaking, and while I have no prejudices against career changes (Kurt Russell is making interesting wines, for example), Blood Into Wine’s cover image and packaging have all the earmarks of a slick piece of marketing.

Which is essentially what the film is, though to my surprise, in a good way. Filmmakers Ryan Page and Christopher Pomeranke have a strong, sometimes whimsical, sometimes straightforward sense of storytelling, using modern techniques to help a story along that is in many senses, extremely slow and technical.

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To be sure, there is a lot here about Keenan’s “other” life as a very successful musician—even making it fairly obvious to what extent he’s using that popularity to help promote this “new” business (few, if any other, winemakers get interviewed on rock radio stations, for example, and the lines of people waiting to get bottles signed don’t look like typical Spectator subscribers).

Keenan's Puscifer bandmate Milla Jovovich makes enough of a cameo so they market her as being in the movie. Sly devils.

Keenan's Puscifer bandmate Milla Jovovich makes enough of a cameo so they market her as being in the movie. Sly devils.

But the core of this film—and what is well worth recommending to wine drinkers who don’t even like Keeenan’s music (I like some of A Perfect Circle, but have never been a Tool fan)—is an exploration of the process of winemaking. And it is as good an exploration of all aspects as I’ve ever seen. Blood Into Wine takes us into the fields planting root stock (even offering a little history on grape proliferation), discusses terroir at length, shows vineyard management—good and bad—harvesting, crush, fermentation, even the actual bottling process. An extended sequence regarding wine rating features a stunt appearance by James Suckling, who flies in from Europe to tell Maynard that at least one of his wines does not suck. Reviewers from Wine Enthusiast and Vinography.com also weigh in, and winemakers from several regions of California also appear. By comparison, Sideways and Bottle Shock are just cute stories that give little insight.

James Suckling actually praises at least one of Keenan's wines...though we don't see his actual scores/notes

James Suckling praises at least one of Keenan's wines...though we don't see his actual scores/notes

Ultimately the story is Keenan’s, and it certainly captures a lot of his own dark sense of humor (a Bob Oedenkirk skit at the end is not to be missed), as well as the quixotic sensibility which inspired him to try making wine in an essentially unproven region of northern Arizona.Whether or not that interests you, Blood Into Wine is still a valuable 100 minute journey through the life of a small winemaker, and that’s something any curious wine drinker ought to see.

"Everything you know about wine...is completely wrong."

"Everything you know about wine...is completely wrong."

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED SEPTEMBER 2011


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