I saw this brilliant and inspiring documentary this week: Blind Ambition. It’s directed by Australians Rob Coe and Warwick Ross, who made a 2013 film called Red Obsession about the booming demand for fine wines in China.
This time, they’ve turned their attention to the story of Tongai Joseph Dhafana, Tinashe Nyamudoka, Marlvin Gwese, and Pardon Tagazu. They’re four Zimbabweans who fled the economic meltdown in their home country in the mid-2000s, seeking refuge in neighbouring South Africa. Taking on any kind of work they could, they all ended up in the hospitality industry, where they discovered – completely by chance – an interest in and a talent for wine. They eventually all became sommeliers, getting jobs in top Cape Town restaurants.
By 2017, they’re at the top of their game, and want to enter the wine-tasting olympics: the World Blind Tasting Championships, held each year in Burgundy. And so they start the first-ever Zimbabwean team, a team for a country with no wine-tasting traditions of its own, made up of people who didn’t even encounter wine until well into adulthood. The documentary follows them on their mission to raise enough money to travel to the competition and throughout the competition itself, and it stirring stuff.