An echo resonates in a dingy cellar after a bottle of 1969 Dom Ruinart champagne—one of only 19 bottles in the world—is popped. This is one of the many memorable pieces of cinematography in SOMM: Into the Bottle, a new documentary by director Jason Wise.
His first documentary, SOMM, followed four candidates for the prestigious Master Sommelier test as they rode the emotional roller coaster to become one of only a few hundred Master Sommeliers in the world. Ian Cauble, Brian McClintic, Dustin Wilson and DLynn Proctor return to impart their knowledge for the second documentary.
Cauble, a Master Somm, is now an adjunct wine faculty member at the International Culinary Center in Campbell, which held a screening of SOMM: Into the Bottle after a Q&A session. He is exactly as he appears in the movies: energetic and passionate, with a pool of knowledge that he shares openly with the audience. As the film played in a classroom built specifically for the sommelier program, with rinsing sinks at each seat, attendees noshed on buttered popcorn paired with Chardonnay and house-made hot dogs paired with Beaujolais. It turns out these pairings were mentioned in the movie.
The four Somms are joined in the film by well-known winemakers and industry professionals to discuss the history, politics, culture and future of wine. A smattering of topics are touched on, including the 2013 Napa Valley earthquake’s effect on that year’s vintages, the history of war and wine in Europe, and the business of pricing wine. The film does well to weave interviews into a variety of wine-related topics, and viewers are privy to rarely seen images such as the cellar of DRC Winery in France, where the world’s most expensive wines are produced. From its start, Into the Bottle deviates from SOMM’s premise greatly, in that it lacks the drama and tension of the Master Sommelier test and rather seeks to educate the viewer about wine.
The documentaries have become a pivotal influence in the public’s perception of wine, teaching us that entire industries of obsessively passionate people pour endless hours of work into a bottle. Wise romanticizes wine in the way Netflix’s Chef’s Table did for fine dining—slow pans of the perfect pour, a swirling wine glass against the sun and even a tiny mushroom growing on a cork. He chases down the foremost experts on the topic and gains exclusive access to places the general public never knew existed.
Somm: Into the Bottle can be found on iTunes, Google Play and Amazon.