A Taste Of Burgundy On The Big Screen
If you are a wine lover, you should definitely get hold of a new film by David Kennard, A Year in Burgundy. Produced by Martine Saunier, who also is an importer, this film follows six different artisan domains peppered about Burgundy through the trials, challenges, joys and celebration of the growing year.
It features Dominique Cornin of Domaine Cornin in the Macon; Michel and Sebastian Gay of Domaine Michel Gay et fils in ChoreyLes-Beaune; Michel and Thibault Morey of Domaine Morey-Coffinet in Chassagne Montrachet; Christophe Perrot of Domaine PerrotMinot and Arnaud Mortet, both in Morey-Saint-Denis; as well as Bruno Clavelier of Domaine Clavelier and Madame Lalou Bize-Leroy of Domaine Leroy, both of whom are located in Vosne Romanee.
What I liked about the film is that it conveys much of the story very romantically. Every single one of these producers is family owned and operated. The people who are making each of the decisions in the vine growing, harvest time, winemaking and technique actually have their names on the label. There is even an instance when Michel Morey has to gather the rest of the Morey-Coffinet family members to pick their best vineyard site, a mere eight rows, the Grand Cru white Batard Montrachet, because they were unable to gather the regular picking crew on short notice. You see each of these vine growers in their vineyards, inspecting, overseeing and doing everything in their power to produce the finest grapes possible.
What also is engaging is that the film shows just how much differently each winemaker will treat those grapes within the winery. Michel Gay has a beautiful explanation of how during the harvest “the doors of the winery are wide open.” Everyone can see exactly what the other producers are doing in the vine and during harvest. But once the grapes are harvested, “the doors to the winery are closed.” How each wine-maker treats his or her wine is very different. Yet each one believes his or her method to be the best. And the goal is the same: to produce the finest wine possible, to make a wine expressive of the vineyard and the vintage.
Another beautiful aspect of the film is showing the amount of attention to detail with which the winemakers treat their wines. There is a series of scenes where Christophe Perrot finds a bucketful of nothing but rotten grapes and gruffly brings it to the attention of his pickers. Being so worried, he races and runs to the winery to make sure none of the rotten grapes have gotten into the cuves. I don’t want to spoil the story, but he is rewarded by a visit from the police to check records of the harvest team at the most inopportune time. Another perfect example of attention to detail is at Leroy, where the triage table is lined with at least a dozen people and the conveyor belt moves imperceptibly slowly to give every berry the opportunity to be viewed by more than one pair of eyes.
The glorious celebrations of Burgundy, including the Chevaliers de Tastevin dinner at the Clos de Vougeot, and the after-harvest celebrations truly bring the hospitality and hedonism of the Burgundy region to the fore. The song, food and conviviality are as much a part of Burgundy as are the wines.
The beautifully philosophical quotes from the winemakers are too many to recall, but the film is a very romantic presentation of the winegrowers’ year. The veil is opened for the viewer to see just some of what goes on behind the production of the wonderful bottles of wine that we enjoy. And the producers did a great job of avoiding the “geekiness” or minutiae that might have brought down the spirit and generosity of the region.
This film is a must-see, and it’s even better when you watch it over a hearty meal with wines from the producers in the film, which is exactly what I was lucky enough to do with a club in Honolulu. It’s almost is as if you were there.
Recommendations: 2010 Saint Ginglin “Carte Verte” Bordeaux ($19) Bordeaux at this price isn’t supposed to taste this good, but this one does. It is satisfying, full of all the beautiful dried berry fruitiness you would want, with a pleasant aftertaste.