What do a “freshly opened can of tennis balls,” “wet wool,” a “new rubber hose,” and a “can of green beans” have in common? They’re all phrases used to describe wine in SOMM, a documentary directed by Jason Wise (pictured). While the film makes its Denver debut this week (at a benefit and media premiere tonight, followed by a public opening on Friday), 5280 had the opportunity to preview the 93-minute flick over the weekend. Glass of 2008 Fronton Négrette in hand, of course.
SOMM follows several assiduous candidates on their journey to take the Master Sommelier exam, a test that only 133 people in North America have successfully passed (the first American earned his diploma in 1973). Given the Centennial State’s unusual per capita density of Master Sommeliers, many Coloradans are already familiar with this elusive society and its fabled exam. But the documentary gives us an entertaining and accurate look at the blind tasting sessions, flash cards, middle of the night Skype calls, and pressure that goes on for months—even years—of studying for the test. Three sommeliers with Colorado ties are featured in the film: Jay Fletcher, a Roaring Fork resident who passed the exam in 1996 and serves as a mentor to today’s young candidates; Brian McClintic who worked at Aspen’s The Little Nell, Il Mulino, and Matsuhisa before settling in Santa Barbara, California; and New York City’s Dustin Wilson, formerly of The Little Nell and Boulder’s Frasca Food and Wine. While the movie left me wishing that producers had negotiated their way into the exam room itself, it still managed to make me nervous and anxious right alongside the candidates.
Follow Stacey Brugeman on Twitter @denveromnivore.
—Photo courtesy of Forgotten Man Films and Samuel Goldwyn Films