Playboy.com: Are you guys Bordeaux lovers, yourselves?
Ross: Yes, massive. And more so after spending more than a year immersing ourselves in the wine culture of Bordeaux. To have walked the vineyards of Saint-Émilion with Christian Moueix and to have seen the vestiges of Roman vine rows carved into the limestone on his property adds so much to the experience of drinking wines from that ancient terroir. Reading Thomas Jefferson’s letters, describing how much he and his friend, General Washington, loved the wines of Chateau d’Yquem, makes the experience of tasting that wine yourself extraordinary (albeit a different vintage!).
Playboy.com: Do you think the top Bordelais Chateaux got too greedy in their pricing of the 2009 and 2010 releases?
Ross: Greed certainly played a role in what happened over that extraordinary year. And, as I mentioned above, hubris played a role too. But had the crash not happened, would it have been just good business? There was an element of fate at play, almost Shakespearean (without the blindings and murders!). Christian Moueix also talked about many of the Bordelais having an attitude that “the sky’s the limit, nothing can go wrong.” Arrogance, greed and ultimately humility all played their parts.
Roach: This is not the first time this question has been asked through the decades. Boom and bust is the natural cycle of things, and the fine wine trade is no different. The distinguishing factor of this particular cycle is its strength and rapid growth and of course the price rises, all of which were a direct consequence of what was happening in China. One of the recurring themes in Red Obsession is the shift in economic power from the West to the East. This can tell us a lot about the fine wine game, but it also has much broader implications. The fall, when it came, was much harder than anyone expected.
Playboy.com: What's Russell Crowe's fave Bordeaux?
Ross: He loves his Bordeaux; not sure if he plays favorites. If it’s a great producer in a great vintage, you can’t go wrong.
Roach: We were all working too hard to find out that piece of information. Russell was doing three other films at the time!
Playboy.com: Do you think Bordeaux will remain relevant as a standard-bearer of fine wine globally at the highest classification levels? Or have they jumped the shark in effectively pricing almost the entire Millennial generation out of their market (for now, anyway)?
Ross: Bordeaux will remain the reference for some time to come. They roll with the punches and adapt, as they have always done. Historically, Bordeaux has always been linked to the fortunes of global economies: as great nations rise and fall, so does the fate of Bordeaux (as we say in our intro). But it’s still there. The terroir will be there, the talent will be there and the extraordinary wines will still be there. I do think Bordeaux needs to be more mindful of its old customers. Chasing the glittering new opportunity needs to be balanced with maintaining the old relationships. And, of course, Bordeaux will always have the history, the narrative and the mystique, and for the aspirational emerging middle class in China, it will continue to symbolize prestige for many years to come.
Roach: I agree, Bordeaux will maintain its position as the reference point for fine wine. Its production levels are higher than Burgundy and most other major wine regions, which gives it critical mass. But in the future, it will be sharing the fine wine stage. As the Chinese become more knowledgeable about wines, the "New World" wines will start getting important traction in China, too. This is normal market evolution. We found that many actors in Red Obsession had become somewhat detached from reality because of the hype. That's why we made the film. We wanted to look beyond the hype.
About the Author:
Want to learn more about maximizing your wine pleasure? Visit Joe Roberts’ award-winning website 1WineDude.com, where you can find him regularly roasting wine's sacred cow (and pairing it with robust, obscure red). Roberts is a certified wine geek and has been called "an original" by media maven Gary Vaynerchuk, "provocative" by the Seattle Times and "a Robin Hood in the exclusive world of vineyards and corkings" by The Urban Grocer. His wine knowledge has been tapped by the L.A. Times, New York Times, CNBC.com, Mutineer Magazine, PalatePress.com and Washington Post.