The Clever Root

Winter / Spring 2016

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2 2 | t h e c l e v e r r o o t Wise Words Back in November, I caught up with Jason Wise, director of SOMM: Into the Bottle at the Napa Valley Film Fest where the movie headlined and premiered. "I'm not an expert on wine," he said, "but I'm not afraid to em- brace it—and lucky for me I don't have to sell it." But he is selling stories on wine and, while this film is not exactly a sequel to the first SOMM documentary, there are a lot of repeat characters, such as Fred Dame, Brian McClintic, Ian Cauble and DLynn Proctor, who, along with a cast of recognizable people to those in the industry, do a great job of telling an invigorat- ing tale of the history of wine. "The wine list in my opinion is the only thing," explained Wise, "that every person has opened up and at some point felt confused and stupid. So we decided that the wine list is a storybook that only certain people can read—and som- meliers are those people. They don't look at a bunch of Burgun- dies and go straight to price—they look at the names and think, 'This guy uses new oak,' 'This guy's a jerk,' 'This guy has a ton of money and it's all BS.' They know all this stuff, so our goal was to show that the wine list is really a storybook in code. The film doesn't solve the code, but it points out that it's there." —Jonathan Cristaldi PHOTO COURTESY OF NAPA VALLEY FILM FESTIVAL Director Jason Wise at the Somm: Into the Bottle opening night party at the Riverfront Promenade at the 2015 Napa Valley Film Festival. EVENT WRAP-UP Bartender David Ruiz mixes an Old Pal, featuring Michter's Single Barrel Straight Rye. Man does not live by wine alone. Supporting the dramatic trend toward artisan fla- vors, in spirits and wines, was the booth of Michter's US*1 Whiskeys. As the direct descendant of America's first whiskey distillery and supplier to George Washing- ton's troops during the terrible winter at Valley Forge, Michter's Kentucky Straight Rye, Kentucky Straight Bourbon, Sour Mash and American Whiskey exemplify how American passion and commitment to excellence are historical qualities. Soaring Spirits Old Pal • 1 oz. Michter's Single Barrel Straight Rye • 1 oz. Cocchi Americano • 1 oz. Gran Classico Bitter Somm selfie (left to right): DLynn Proctor, MS, Penfolds Winemaking Ambassador for the Americas; Ian Cauble, MS, co-founder SommSelect; Yoon Ha, MS, Wine Director, Benu San Francisco; Chris Sawyer, sommelier and wine consultant; and Fred Dame, MS at the SOMM: Into the Bottle premiere after-party at the Napa Valley Film Festival. Proctor, Cauble and Dame are featured in the documentary. Sipping with Somms SHARE THE RED CARPET WITH TOP SOMMELIERS AT THE NAPA VALLEY FILM FESTIVAL by Dan Vogel / photos by Alexander Rubin IN NOVEMBER, THE SOMM JOURNAL joined with passion- ate food and wine fans attending the fifth annual Napa Val- ley Film Festival to see the World Premiere of SOMM: Into the Bottle. Flooding into the VIP Party at the Napa River Inn, the audience, as well as industry insiders, were treated to an extraordinary range of foods, artesian spirits and, of course, a fair selection of wines from around the world. But the real draw—the target of nearly all the party goers—was the prospect of actually meeting the starring Master Sommeliers; Dustin Wilson, DLynn Proctor, Ian Cauble, Brian McClintic and, of course, Fred Dame. They were not disappointed. Crushes of people from all aspects of film and food gathered around to discuss wine and the people involved with this extraordinary event. Also in the rooms were many other wine professionals, some with Court of Master Sommelier pins of lesser rank. In all, an unusually large gathering of sommeliers for a non-trade-specific event gave witness to a new and signifi- cant threshold within our craft. Considering that somms generally work alone within their properties, this gravity of awareness illustrates the world's interest in the art of the sommelier, as it moves from the lonely cellar and into the lights of popular film. ■cr

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