Joe Fattorini on The Wine Show - Series 2
We all loved watching Matthew Rhys, Matthew Goode, Amelia Singer and Joe Fattorini on the first series of The Wine Show.
At last, the second series has arrived to Friday-evening TV – hurray! We caught up with Joe to find out some of his highlights, funny moments and what went on behind the scenes…
Q. What’s the theme behind the places you’re visiting for Series 2 of The Wine Show?
“To be honest, we don’t have a theme so much as a series of great stories spanning all sorts of aspects of life. When making series one we kept finding stories that we couldn’t fit in to the time we had. It’s been great to return to the notes we made then and investigate all the things we couldn’t look at the first time. We saw how wine is intertwined with wars, history, religion, gastronomy, immigration… all sorts. I think we imagined that it would be impossible to exceed the highs and excitement of making series one. But we were totally wrong.”
Q. Which country’s wines exceeded your initial expectations?
“Georgia. Without question. I’ve been a bit sceptical of Orange Wines. Although I’ve learned to now call them “Amber Wines”. These are skin-contact wines made in a qvevri - large earthenware vessels buried in the ground. But the quality of wines we tried was remarkable. They’re… how shall I say… different. But compelling. And in Georgia, the birthplace of winemaking, where vines are so entwined with the country’s culture and history and identity, it was hard not to fall in love with them.”
Q. Did you experience any dangerous or slightly sketchy moments during any of the filming?
“Yes. More than once, actually. I ran the Marathon du Medoc, which frankly shouldn’t have been too much of a challenge. I’ve done loads of marathons in the past. But I’ve never run one in four layers of fancy dress. I was dangerously dehydrated at the end and had to go to the hospital tent to be put on several drips. And in Bosnia we visited a vineyard that was part of a project to bring the former warring communities together. In the vineyard, I started casually kicking something that had been ploughed up between the vines. People became suddenly very panicky, as it seems the vineyard was a former minefield. But it turned out just to be an old mess canteen from a soldier, who must have dropped it there twenty-five years ago. Not so dangerous. Although a stark reminder of that part of Bosnia’s history.”
Q. Do any stories take you by surprise?
“They do and more often than you imagine. It happened in Argentina where we were filming a story about immigration. We were with Laura Catena, looking at how Malbec is an immigrant grape that’s become naturalised. Much like the Catena family and many other Argentinians. A welcoming approach to immigration is written into Argentina’s constitution. But we filmed this against the backdrop of Brexit negotiations, the Trump administration’s attempts at travel bans and a general global retreat from liberal migration policies. We weren’t there to make a big political point. But it was hard not to see the contrast between this part of Argentina’s story and the very different mood of the world at large.”
Q. What was the funniest thing that happened to you (or anyone else...) while filming?
“Well you may have to be the judge of that. I did a tour of California with comedian Gina Yashere. She’s an absolute riot and we had a brilliant time trying to find a wine for her, especially as she started out saying she only wanted something that tasted “like Sprite”. But she also gave me a challenge. I had to do a stand-up comedy set at one of North Hollywood’s top comedy clubs. I was the first on stage. I can tell you, it wasn’t funny for me. But I think the absolute terror written all over my face made it hilarious for everyone else. I’ll not tell you how I did though. You’ll have to wait…”
Q. Where would you like to go back?
“I’d go back to Georgia tomorrow. In fact, I might. They’ve started direct flights from London just after we went. It’s a fascinating country and still unknown to people in the West. In the early 1980’s a British traveller, Sir Fitzroy Maclean, wrote “Georgians are much the hardest drinking nation on earth”. So the nights out are fun. And it’s a melting pot of cultures from the Arab south, European west and Russian north. The food is phenomenal. In a very different way I loved Japan for how its total isolation from the rest of the world has given it a culture so utterly unfamiliar to my own. And I fell in love with sake. The complexity and texture and way it works so differently with food. We were only there a week and there’s so much more to discover.”
Q. Which of the wines that you tried could be a contender for the ‘next big thing’?
“Canadian Chardonnay. Boy, that’s good stuff. Canada has the climates and terroirs to make some truly beautiful wines with precision and character and gorgeous fruit. And it has a longer, more complex winemaking history than people credit. It’s really a country of two halves. There’s the west, centred on the Okanagan Valley, where we were. And the wines of Niagara and other regions in the east, and home to people like Norman Hardie. Tasted blind, Norman’s wine just blow people away, and we tasted others that are set to rise to that level too. Keep your eyes on these ones.”