SOMM, The Film (2012) is a documentary film wherein four sommeliers attempt to pass the prestigious Master Sommelier exam... a test with one of the lowest pass rates in the world. It's not a love story. Its a story of a beautiful crazy OBSESSION. Whether or not you are obsessed with or even interested in wine, this film is layered with values on all levels, offering a taste of obsession and determination that can be appreciated by the "palate" of any film viewer.
One of the four obsessed stars of the film, Ian Cauble MS, came to Kelowna on September 13, 2013 to launch the first annual Okanagan Food, Wine and Film Festival, with a showing of SOMM. I will say, to see Ingo Grady, Director of Sales at Mission Hill Family Estate Winery and MC of the event, a little misty when the lights came back on post screening, is a very endearing testament both to Jason Wise's filmmaking, and to the passionate wine culture of this film.
A brief conversation with Ian at the event revealed that he would be spending the next three days in the valley so I quickly decided I would catch up with him after his trip for a recap of his first visit to our wine region. I gave him a call at his home, a few days after his visit.
What I could aim to derive from a conversation from the world's 196th (ever in history) Master Sommelier was a little insight and understanding of our wine and wine business in the context of the world wine stage. First though, I satisfied my interest in what he enjoyed most here.
Some of Ian's dining highlights in the Okanagan:
Mission Hill Terrace Restaurant- Chef Matt Batey, great guy, a very beautiful dining experience.
Raudz Regional Table- great food - Ian ate with Christina Ferreira and Alison Love, the film festival organizers.
Korean food on Bernard Street - Some of the best Korean Ian has had. He couldn't remember the name so I dare to guess at the one and only, SS Korean Restaurant at 280 Bernard Street.
La Bussola - Ian made a friend of the Sommelier and GM, Luigi Coccaro, and found some real gems on his extensive wine list.
Of the wineries Ian was able to visit, some stand-out wines were:
Crush Pad Pinot Noir, 2011, 2012, also Pinot Gris and Chardonnay
Fox Trot - Chardonnay (enjoyed the burgundian style)
Ex Nihilo - Reisling
Tantalus - Solid wines all around
Painted Rock - Chardonnay really good
Laughing Stock - Syrah
Black Hills - Nota Bene vertical tasting showed well, 2011 Chardonnay great.
Hester Creek- Terrafina lunch & tasting - Cab Franc 2007 very good, Pinot Blanc, Pinot Gris - all good
A highly valued (Krug hired him as North American Ambassador on the spot, when he passed his exam), expert and outside perspective on our Okanagan wine region from someone who truly tastes and knows the entire world of wine, is what to me is of lasting value...
I asked the questions - Where do we fit (in the world)?" - and "Where do we go from here?" - Ian answered with these words of wisdom:
"Drink international wines, learn from the outside... Cotes Du Rhone..."
"It's important to look outside the region. You don't want a house palate."
"Don't over crop - lessen the fruit per shoot..."
"The Okanagan is making world class whites. Reds, its tougher. At 50 degrees north of the equator ripening reds is tough."
"I drink and enjoy 88-94 point wines. The higher wines are more syrupy, not as drinkable."
I will be following Ian Cauble MS' career and wine knowledge through his new business, sommselect.com. His concept is simple, to offer wine selected by Ian to wine drinkers around the country at the best possible price, one wine at a time. Wine will only be available in limited quantity and will be sourced from appellations around the world. The business officially starts it's offerings late this year, 2013.
Tarynn Liv Parker