In the past few years there have been many wine movies out there that have missed the mark, but every now and then one “wows” me. I think that wine being such a detailed and seemingly magical product it is a bit more difficult to appropriately convey via film or television. This is why I think most wine shows have not taken off and why it takes a special knack for a film to be meaningful and evocative when wine is the key subject. Sideways back in its day did a surprisingly great job at getting things right and allowing wine to share the spotlight amidst a very engaging story, but I think it’s more difficult to do this in a documentary. A partnership between acclaimed Senior Producer, Director, Writer David Kennard and famed Burgundy importer Martine Saunier has created the most perfect pairing resulting in a film, A Year in Burgundy, that is both visually and mentally engaging.
A carefully selected group of dynamic, unique and engaging vignerons all connected by Martine Saunier, present a stunning look at a year in the Burgundy region. While the requisite shots of vines and scenery abound, Kennard has adeptly captured the true personalities of these producers and Madame Saunier herself. This is what makes it so engaging. I happened to see the premiere in San Francisco seated in front of some people who were not in the industry as evidenced by their “Oohs”, “Ahs” and “Mmms” during certain scenes. It was so interesting to hear them vocalize their reactions to things such as hailstorms and issues with starting the Willmes press. Amazingly as I became enrapt by the film I found myself gasping at the care with which Lalou Bize-Leroy takes by sorting grapes individually. I laughed out loud at the perfectly captured matter of fact shrug of a vintner, and the unruly behavior of Dominique Cornin’s horse Coccinelle (Ladybug in French) who was definitely not pandering to the camera. The film was shot by Jamie LeJeune and a glance at the stills you can find on Pinterest will give you an idea of the beauty captured, cue a perfect escargot snailing across the screen in high def. There’s also a certain sense that they happened to time their visits perfectly rather than stage the shots. I was also struck by the sound quality, especially in a scene shot in the cellar, you don’t see the old wood doors but you hear them creak open and see the shaft of light enter the ancient cellars at Domaine Morey-Coffinet and hear the crunching of the stones as footsteps enter the cave. This film is an invitation into the inner sanctum of some of Burgundy’s best producers thanks to Martine Saunier… If you can’t get there yourself, I recommend buying the DVD, and settling in with a friend, a bottle and a corkscrew. You won’t be disappointed.
What are some of your favorite wine, food or restaurant movies or shows?
by Rebecca Chapa, DWS, CWE, CS
Instructor, San Francisco Wine School
Owner, Tannin Management