French grapes, Chinese billionaires and a Gladiator have added up beautifully for Wombarra film-maker David Roach, netting him another prestigious award nomination.
Roach has this week been recognised with an Australian Writers' Guild annual AWGIE award for the documentary Red Obsession. The film, originally setting out to explore and document a historic period in the Bordeaux wine industry, soon became a story on the world's newest wine heavyweight - China.
"In 2009, it was a vintage of the century in Bordeaux. There had been no vintage like this in 70 years and there were rumours 2010 would be a perfect vintage also," Roach says.
Producing perfect vintages in two consecutive years is almost unheard of, and vintage prices were at world record highs. However, the global financial crisis meant despite the incredible quality, the traditional wine markets had collapsed.
"Into this void came a new market. The Chinese, with all this power and wealth, became obsessed with the wines of Bordeaux," he says.
Roach, with co-director, co-writer and longtime friend Warwick Ross, spent several years criss-crossing the globe from France to London to China. Their film, narrated by Russell Crowe, morphed from a story on the historic quality of Bordeaux wine to "a story about money and business and the shift in economic power".
Red Obsession became their obsession. They went from the new vineyard estates on the Chinese border of Afghanistan, to the $60 million wine cellar of a Chinese sex-toy billionaire, to interviewing Francis Ford Coppola and Michael Parkinson.
The real kicker, however, is that Roach is by no means a wine buff.
"I'm not a wine expert.
"I love drinking it, but don't know a huge amount about it," he says.
Red Obsession will have a DVD release in November, and is currently playing in several Sydney cinemas.