Mostly Martha, written and directed by award-winning Sandra Nettleback, is the charming story of Martha (Martha Gedeck), a chef obsessed with perfection. Martha's stoic, regimented life is turned upside down when her sister is tragically killed in a car accident and she gains custody of her young niece, Lina (Maxime Foerste).
Completely ill-prepared for her role as mother figure to an impetuous eight-year-old girl on a grief-fuelled hunger strike, Martha and Lina struggle to find their footing as a new family in scenes both touching and traumatic. All the while, Martha searches for Lina's Italian father, who is unaware of her existence.
Forced to take some time off from the restaurant to regroup, upon her return, Martha is horrified to encounter new hire Mario (Sergio Castellito), a renowned Italian sous-chef, who is everything she is not: fun-loving, exuberant, robust and sensual. As one might expect, and through some manipulation on Lina's part, romance blossoms between the two opposites. And then, there were three, until Lina's father arrives to claim her.
Mostly Martha is a foodie's dream movie and a most enjoyable, entertaining film. As such, it comes as no surprise that Oscar-nominated director Scott Hicks (Shine) produced 2007's Hollywood remake No Reservations starring Catherine Zeta-Jones and Aaron Eckhart. I have watched this film so you don't have to. Most of the food photography is dramatically sub-par. The dialogue is basically translated into English scene for scene, but without the same weight and intensity. No Reservations is simply inferior.
With 91 points in the June 15, 2008 issue of Wine Spectator, Domdechant Werner'sches Riesling Kabinett Rheingau Hochheimer Hölle 2006 ($24.00 USD, $19.95 CDN) is the perfect match for Mostly Martha which similarly racked up the accolades on its release in 2001, although mostly in Europe.
The name of the wine is admittedly a mouthful! Domdechant Werner'sches Weingut is the name of the estate. Hockheimer Hölle is the name of the wine from the 2006 vintage and Hölle is the name of the single vineyard from which this delicious nectar is drawn. It's a Riesling from the Rheingau, the most central of the 13 wine growing regions of Germany. And Kabinett is the term for the driest classification of sugar concentration in the unfermented grape juice (aka must). This is based on the Oechsle scale (developed in the 19th century) which classifies wines in order of sweetness from least to greatest as follows: Kabinett; Spätlese; Auslese; Beerenauslese; Eiswein and Trockenbeerenauslese.
Mercedes Benz is to cars as Riesling is to the Rheingau region: a shining star. Almost 80 per cent of the Rheingau region is planted with Riesling, due to its favorable climate, ideal soil conditions and gently sloping hills along the banks of the Rhine river. A versatile grape, Riesling produces wines with racy acidity, huge flavor and real aging potential. Due to the perfect balance of sugar, acid and an alcohol content of 10 per cent (on the high side for a Kabinett), the Hochheimer Holle 2006 can be aged for up to 15 years.
In North America Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc still dominate the white wine market. Riesling, however, makes for a wonderful food wine or can be enjoyed all on its own. If you have stayed away from German wines because of their lingering reputation for cloying sweetness, try the Domdechant Werner'sches Riesling Kabinett Rheingau Hochheimer Hölle 2006. Flavors of passion fruit and peach abound with a finish that lasts a good 15 seconds. Enjoy with Mostly Martha and maybe some poached salmon in a light basil cream sauce? You and your mouth will be very happy.
Jill Vanderkooy, Sommelier and certifiable bon vivant, has worked in the wine industry for over 10 years, has been drinking wine for 25 years and is a true devotee of film across all genres. Her liver thanks you for reading.