Narration something to Crowe about
DIRECTOR Warwick Ross wishes he could tell a different story of how Russell Crowe came to narrate his wine documentary Red Obsession.
‘‘I’d like to tell you that I met Russell in a sleazy bar in Manhattan and I got him drunk on a bottle of 1982 Lafite. But that’s not the case at all,’’ he says.
Instead, executive producer Robert Coe is a friend of Crowe’s and told him about the idea.
Crowe was keen but the three-month window to get him to record the narration quickly turned into two, then one – until they were down to the final days.
‘‘Russell was shooting a film called Noah in New York,’’ Ross says.
‘‘Then Cyclone Sandy came through, the superstorm, and swept across Manhattan and, ironically, shut down Noah with a biblical flood. Russell was then snapped up by Les Mis and somewhere between Les Mis and Noah he found three hours for us.’’
The documentary by Ross, who owns a vineyard on Victoria’s Mornington Peninsula, and co-director David Roach looks at how the great chateaux of Bordeaux are struggling to deal with the demand for their rare, expensive wines – particularly in China.
‘‘Unaffected by the global financial crisis and minting millionaires at this incredible rate, this is a new status symbol in China, the fine wines of Bordeaux,’’ Ross says.
Roach found when they got to France doors were opened thanks to executive producer and Master of Wine Andrew Caillard, and during interviews rumours were flying about the Chinese market.
‘‘Who are these people who are buying these extraordinary, ethereal wines for thousands of dollars a bottle?’’ Roach says others were asking.
‘‘People said, ‘oh they’re rich and they don’t know anything about wine and they put Coca-Cola in the wine when they buy it’. So we started to hunt down those stories.’’ To get to the bottom of it, they went to China. What they found was that, unlike in the West where you can find brokerage houses set up to trade only in wine, the Chinese are the opposite.
‘‘The wine that they buy – whether it’s $2000 a bottle or $5000 a bottle – they are actually pulling the corks and drinking the wine,’’ Ross says.
‘‘So in many respects the Chinese seem to be honouring the passion and art of wine more than the Westerners, who are seeing it as a commodity to invest in only.’’ So is the Coca-Cola rumour true? ‘‘Definitely true (but) not really so much anymore,’’ Ross says.
‘‘Twenty years ago, the people that we interviewed were telling us that the wines that were going into China, a lot of them were pretty terrible and even said to us we would be adding Coke to them as well.’’
Red Obsession opens today.
A Chinese billionaire in his $60m wine cellar in a scene from