Last night's viewing - Chateau Chunder: When Australian Wine Ruled the World, BBC4; Some Girls, BBC3

 

Australian wine wasn't always a byword for excellence, to put it mildly.
Chateau Chunder: When Australian Wine Ruled the World
, a very enjoyable parable
of snobbery, success and self-damaging greed, set the context for its account of
a wine revolution by opening with a Monty Python sketch, in which Eric Idle
warned us off the eponymous bottle. While "a good Sydney Syrup can rank with any
of the world's great sugary wines," he said approvingly, Chateau Chunder was
"specially grown for those keen on regurgitation, a wine that really opens up
the sluices at both ends."

You laughed at the caricature, but then Bruce Tyrrell, a Hunter Valley wine-maker, recalled the early days when his uncle would sit in the winery shooting rats off the rafters. One day, one dropped straight into a vat. "Do you want me to get that out?" Bruce asked his uncle. "Nah," he replied, "It'll add a bit of body."

Back then, beer was the national drink and "plonkies", as wine drinkers were known, were regarded as either effeminate or alcoholic. Penfolds exported "medicinal" wines to Britain, but it was into a market where the vast majority of the public, as Oz Clarke noted, believed that wine wasn't "for the likes of us". Stephen Oliver's film told the story of how Australian wines helped utterly transform that drab landscape, and how their triumph over French wine snobbery came with a sting in the tail. And at the beginning it was a buccaneering sort of affair, in which cheeky marketing provided the chief weapon. When Australian wine growers invited British wine writers down under to see how much things had improved they posted a bottle to the partners they'd left at home, just to seal the deal.

The French were appalled, naturally. But early attempts to nip this intrusive shoot in the bud failed. When French growers took legal action to prevent the use of descriptions such "claret" or "burgundy", the Australians started labelling with grape varietals, and shiraz and chardonnay were launched. And when European cork producers fobbed off Australian wineries with sub-standard corks, because they couldn't keep up with the new demand, the Australians responded by developing the screw-top seal, another democratising touch. It still hurts, obviously. One of the funniest moments in a film with quite a few of them was the scornful reaction of a French wine-maker, Jean-Luc Colombo, to that last development: "Where is ze dream," he said. "Where is ze legend?" He was such a ludicrous caricature of Gallic disdain that I had to Google him to check that he wasn't played by an actor.

There was a nice concluding twist to this story of insurgent triumph, as big brewers and distillers greedily exploited and coarsened the very qualities that made Australian wine so desirable. So, as French vineyards belatedly play copycat with regard to informality and marketing, their Australian counterparts are discovering the advantages of a certain amount of stuffy connoisseurship and artisan mystery. And all this was captured in a way that reflected the qualities of the wines that made the difference. Cheeky, vivacious but with surprisingly complex undertones, Chateau Chunder slipped down a treat.

The crude description of Some Girls would be a female Inbetweeners. It's got four crisply differentiated school-age friends and a similar salty take on teenage sexuality and exasperation with the adult world. But the crude description doesn't entirely do justice to what's distinctive about Bernadette Davis's comedy, which is a definite tilt towards drama and sympathy. When the camera catches Holli preparing her siblings' lunch boxes by putting a boiled potato and M&Ms into each one, you're simultaneously invited to laugh at the menu and to feel a little pang at her precocious maternal responsibilities. I'm far too old and male to say whether it's authentically representative of young girls' lives, but there's heart here.

 

Arts and Entertainment
Friends is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year
TV
Arts and Entertainment
A spell in the sun: Emma Stone and Colin Firth star in ‘Magic in the Moonlight’
filmReview: Magic In The Moonlight
Arts and Entertainment
Liam Neeson said he wouldn't

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Maisie Williams plays 'bad ass' Arya Stark in Game of Thrones

TV
Arts and Entertainment

TV
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
The former Doctor Who actor is to play a vicar is search of a wife

film
Arts and Entertainment

music
Arts and Entertainment
Pointless host Alexander Armstrong will voice Danger Mouse on CBBC

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Pharrell dismissed the controversy surrounding

music
Arts and Entertainment
Jack Huston is the new Ben-Hur

film
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Cara Delevingne modelling

film
Arts and Entertainment
Emma Thompson and Bryn Terfel are bringing Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street to the London Coliseum

theatre
Arts and Entertainment
Sheridan Smith as Cilla Black

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Robin Thicke's video for 'Blurred Lines' has been criticised for condoning rape

Robin Thicke admits he didn't write 'Blurred Lines'

music
Arts and Entertainment
While many films were released, few managed to match the success of James Bond blockbuster 'Skyfall'

film
Arts and Entertainment
Matt Damon as Jason Bourne in The Bourne Ultimatum (2007)

film
Arts and Entertainment
Sheridan Smith as Cilla Black

Review: Cilla, ITV TV
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Tom Hardy stars with Cillian Murphy in Peaky Blinders II

TV
Arts and Entertainment

art
Arts and Entertainment
Keira Knightley and Benedict Cumberbatch star in the Alan Turing biopic The Imitation Game

film
Arts and Entertainment
Kanye West is on his 'Yeezus' tour at the moment

Music
Arts and Entertainment
Rob James-Collier, who plays under-butler Thomas Barrow, admitted to suffering sleepless nights over the Series 5 script

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence star in new film 'Serena'

film
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

    A shot in the dark

    Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
    His life, the universe and everything

    His life, the universe and everything

    New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
    Save us from small screen superheroes

    Save us from small screen superheroes

    Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
    Reach for the skies

    Reach for the skies

    From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
    These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

    12 best hotel spas in the UK

    Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
    These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

    Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

    Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
    Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

    Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

    Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
    How to make a Lego masterpiece

    How to make a Lego masterpiece

    Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
    Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

    Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

    Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
    Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

    Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

    His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
    'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

    'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

    Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
    Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

    Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

    The Imitation Game, film review
    England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

    England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

    Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
    Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

    Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

    Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
    ‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

    ‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

    Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week