A billionaire sex toy maker-cum-Bordeaux connoisseur ranks among the racier characters in Red Obsession, a documentary that focuses on China and its recent fascination with the jewels of the wine world, particularly Chateau Lafite. The film underscores the reality that China’s sustained economic boom, built largely on manufacturing, created an elite caught up in what it considers the best things in life. This, as well as the fact that it is hard to make wine interesting for the average person without sexing it up at bit.
Red Obsession is certainly worth a watch. From the stunning visuals of French vineyards, to insights into the Bordeaux-in-China phenomenon from a wide range of personalities that includes Beijing-based winemaker Li Demei and wine teacher Fongyee Walker, the expertise of global wine lovers including one Francis Ford Coppola, and the earthy tones of Russell Crowe as narrator (in his second wine-related outing of 2013 – his first A Good Year was widely panned), the documentary provides an min-depth look at the phenomenon.
Hearing someone say doing business in China is different from doing it elsewhere will induce a few eye rolls from many who live here, but this is also part of the appeal, namely, how those making the film view China’s market. From Chinese seeking the top tipples in Bordeaux, to a Hong Kong businesswoman revealing her wine auction strategy – she simply holds her hand up until she wins – it underscores how deeply the pursuit goes.
Or at least went. Despite coming out just last summer and being focused on recent events, Red Obsession’s main theme, the fascination with top Bordeaux, feels a bit old hat. Already, changing fashions among the country’s elite has seen other wines, including those from Burgundy, come to the fore. But keeping it still relevant are scenes on what China is doing to make good wines of its own, something that would be much better to obsess about.
While Red Obsession is a bit like looking at China’s car market based on people who buy Lamborghinis, examining the potential for large quantities of good made-in-China wine is something everyone can enjoy.
Thirsty now? Here are three bottles to down while watching Red Obsession:
Great River Hill ‘Chateau Nine Peaks’
Made in Shangdong by Chief Wine Consultant Mark Dworkin. Everwines.com
Silver Heights ‘Family Reserve’
From Ningxia, by Bordeaux-trained wine maker, Emma Gago. Emw-wines.com
Grace Vineyard ‘People’s Series’
Made in Shanxi with grapes from Ningxia. A tribute to those who aren’t uber-rich. Everwines.com
Photos: Courtesy of Jim Boyce, www.beartooththeatre.net
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