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Published:  23 July, 2008

By James Mottram

A new documentary unveiled at the Cannes Film Festival has launched a scathing attack on the globalisation of the wine trade. Mondovino, by Jonathan Nossiter, features some of the most renowned names in the wine industry, such as the Mondavis, Michel Rolland and Italy's Antinori family. Pitting these major players against smaller independent winemakers, the film sets out to examine the conflicts between two opposing worlds: winegrowers who maintain traditional, cultural and rural values, and those who support the globalisation of wine. In particular, California's Napa Valley comes in for strong criticism. Up until 1980, when President Reagan was elected, American wine was made with an openness of spirit,' says Nossiter. There was an absolute acceptance that they were starting out. There was a humility, prices were reasonable, there was a notion of experimentation. But after Reagan, the wine world got transformed. Why? Because he encouraged society to dedicate itself to the greedy pursuit of money. Wine became a vector, a symbol of the corporate Reagan revolution. Even Coca-Cola bought a winery in Napa in the Eighties. American wine was then transformed into this marketing powerhouse.' Others featured in the film - which passes through three continents and 60 wine-growing regions - include Michael Broadbent MW, Robert Parker and Jean-Luc Thunevin, of Chteau Valandraud in St-Emilion, who describes Rolland as the Spielberg of the wine world'. Nossiter explains: Rolland is a pure expression of his era. He instinctively understands the trends and aspirations of his time, and knows how to capture them in a product that anticipates what consumers will accept.' Nossiter, who has been making films since 1991 and previously worked as a sommelier and wine journalist, is delighted that his work is the first documentary about the wine industry to be accepted into Cannes. As far as I'm concerned, I've just won an Oscar. Being in competition in Cannes is the biggest honour in the film world.' Mondovino has yet to secure UK distribution, but with the film also turned into a 10-part television series, Nossiter hopes it will be seen by a wide audience.