Sour Grapes




How a produce, wine, became a commodity on the markets and opened up new opportunities for the unscrupulous.


Sour Grapes


The first third of this documentary feature by Jerry Rothwell and Reuben Atlas shows how in recent times expensive wines have established themselves as a prime attraction for collectors and have become featured at prestigious auctions. It led to Acker, Merrall & Condit becoming the top auction house in New York in 2006 and much of that was achieved through their reliance on a Chinese Indonesian named Rudy Kurniawan. The firm offered wine from his cellar at a time when his expertise and exceptional wine palette had been recognised in those rich social circles devoted to wine and ready to pay any price that was necessary.


Interviewees commenting on this world include the author Jay McInerney who is also something of a wine expert, a reporter from the L.A.Times, Corie Brown, and a filmmaker, 'Hollywood' Jef Levy, who was a friend of Kurniawan. But more significant in the long run are the French vintner Laurent Ponsot, first seen in Burgundy, and the wine collector Bill Koch whose cellars immediately proclaim his billionaire status. It was Ponsot who was incensed when discovering that forgeries of his wine were on the market and Koch who resented it on realising that he had been deceived into purchasing bogus historical wines. The individual endeavours of these two through the use of investigator Brad Goldstein and ex-FBI agent Jim Wynne uncovered a trail that would lead to concerns about Rudy Kurniawan whose supposed back history when followed up only added to the mystery surrounding him.


This investigation into fraud becomes the central concern of the film and, if the tale that unfolds is not quite as remarkable as that revealed in the recent Tickled, Sour Grapes comes across as an intriguing narrative well presented. When the tale is ultimately played out, the viewer can decide whether or not in the long run justice has been done.                  




Featuring Laurent Ponsot, Jim Wynne, Bill Koch, 'Hollywood' Jef Levy, Jay McInerney, Brad Goldstein, Corie Brown, Maureen Downey, Arthur Sarkissian. 


Dir Jerry Rothwell and Reuben Atlas, Pro Al Morrow and Catherine Siméon, based on an idea by Nick Ware, Ph Simon Fanthorpe Rothwell, Frank Larson, Jean-Michel Dury and Jérôme Huguenin-Virchaux, Ed James Scott, Music Lionel Corsini.


Met Film/Arte France/Faites un voeu/VPRO-Dogwoof.
85 mins. France/UK/The Netherlands/USA/Denmark/Sweden/Israel/Finland. 2016. Rel: 16 September 2016. Cert. 15.