Warning: This is more of an angry rant than typical review. Contains spoilers.
I don’t consider myself an angry person but watching Somm 3 made me angry. And this was all the while drinking some great natural wines at my local watering hole which should have made watching the movie a more than pleasant experience. The opposite happened.
How to begin? Thematically Somm 1 was most straightforward in focusing on the MS exams, illuminating the obscure process and struggle for the lay viewer. They focused on the individual candidates, making you really root for their success. Great movie material. However Somm 2 tried to go behind the scenes, becoming a more typical “wine movie” in showcasing the producers and winemaking. Somm 3 tried to go in between to feature the wine market, in what makes the market tick by curiously focusing on the Judgement of Paris. The idea of the second Judgement of Paris for Pinot Noir and discussing the Burgundy market around the world afterwards, would have made for a cool movie. Despite the showing of famous names Jancis Robinson MW, Fred Dame MS and Steven Spurrier — it all fell flat.
The first half spent time hyping up Jancis Robinson MW, Fred Dame MS and Steve Spurrier but their actual appearance in the show ended up being only a small portion. They talked about their respective wine journeys and how they ended up where they are. This in itself would have been cool mini biopics but alas, no. Randomly they wavered off after covering the Judgement of Paris in creating a market for Californian wines. Instead of asking Steven Spurrier to host it himself with current market’s top Pinots, they hand the baton to familiar Somm 1 face Dustin Wilson MS to host it with his fellow elite somm pals all based in US.
This is still not a problem since they were top professionals right? No. The wine selection is baffling, choosing Marquis D’Angerville Volnay 1er Cru Champans 2015 and Bachelet Gevrey Chambertin 1er Cru Les Corbeaux 2015 as representatives of top Burgundy today. These are two very respectable producers but they hardly make for top billing of the region. They didn’t have to pick old cliches such as DRC and Leroy but there are certain more exciting new domaines on the block, namely Roumier, Rousseau, Dujac as just examples I can immediately think of. The new world wines they chose were also curious: namely Rajat Parr’s Domaine de la Cote and By Farr from Australia. I think there was also a Chilean Pinot but I didn’t pay attention. But um, what? Is that all you canvassed so far when you are trying to think of great Pinot from around the world? In the US alone, there are tons of options in California but also Washington and Oregon. Australia and New Zealand are not very well presented as well.
This lazy attempt to find good Pinot Noir for their new Judgement of Pinot is made worse into a Rajat Parr advertorial when Domaine de la Cote is found to be on par with Marquis D’Angerville. I’m sure Rajat Parr is a great guy but Dustin Wilson reeks of sucking up to him when he goes on about the great work he is doing in California. The only one who was honest at the tasting was Arvid Rosengren, who described Domaine de la Cote blind as something on the lines of, clearly someone trying hard to make an elegant style wine out of a hot place. He appreciated the effort but he also insinuated that someone is trying too hard to conform stylistically to what’s fashionable now (Burgundian) instead of attempting to make a good wine for the region period.
Later Dustin reconvened with the famous critics and they respectively chose their faves then end. That’s it. I am not fucking kidding you. Firstly they failed to thoroughly describe the effects of Judgement of Paris and its ramifications, secondly they don’t make a connection as to why there is great Pinot everywhere (better technology, more sharing of wine techniques, shift in tastes etc) and what the Judgement of Pinot will try and prove. All in all, the movie seemed like a haphazardly edited B-roll of a movie they were trying to make and then gave up halfway.
Watch C’est Qui Nous Lie/Back to Burgundy (2017) instead and run!