I was recently asked to contribute a movie or television wine moment to a recent Snooth article, Wine in the Movies and on TV, and being the hopeless romantic that I am, my immediate choice was French Kiss, a longtime favorite movie.
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It was a beautiful evening in Beaune. We had checked into our small hotel and headed downstairs for dinner. Many memories of that summer in France as a college student studying French have faded with time, but not this meal and not the wine. This red elixir moved me. I had never had wine like this before. Our hosts kept bringing us bottle after bottle to the dinner table. We drank well into the night. Our dinner celebration spilled into the streets near our hotel, where you could hear our laughter before a backdrop of a clear, starry night. My best friend on this trip, who never drank wine, was giddy with delight. She said, “I don’t even like wine!” But that night, we all fell in love with Beaune, with Burgundy, with pinot noir.
The award-winning documentary, Burgundy: People with a Passion for Wine, a film by Rudi Goldman Productions released October 13, 2016, captures a similar sense of celebration. Through a series of video snapshots across time and place, the door into Burgundy’s wine, culture, and lifestyle is opened to us. For one hour, we become Burgundy. We experience the excitement of harvest. We learn of the power of Mother Nature’s wrath when hail damages precious grapevines. We listen to the wisdom of notable producers such as Maison Alex Gambal, Domaine Huber-Verdereau, Maison Louis Jadot, Maison Joseph Drouhin, Coffinet-Duvernay, Maison Olivier Leflaive, Château de la Crée, Domaine Vincent Bouzereau, and Château de Santenay. Other perspectives of Burgundy, such as those from Laurent Peugeot (Michelin Starred Chef/Owner of Le Charlemagne, Pernand-Vergelesses), Jérôme Brochot (Michelin Starred Chef/Owner, Jérôme Brochot Hotel-Restaurant Montceau-les-Mines), Willy Roulendes (a grape harvester from New Zealand), and Romain Schneider (Tonnelerie François Frères Saint Romain), are intertwined to give us a comprehensive portrait of the wine, food, and people of Burgundy. Scattered amongst these renowned tastemakers, we catch a glimpse of other cultural aspects of Burgundy. Especially captivating for me was Burgundy truffle hunting with Karine Magnin of Les Truffières de Crépey, Aubaine.
During this hour inside of Burgundy, we attend celebratory events such as a traditional harvest lunch, the Great Burgundy Wine Festival, the Confrérie des Grumeurs de Santenay, the Hospices de Beaune Press Tasting, the Semi-Marathon de la Vente des vins de Beaune, the Hospices de Beaune Wine Auction, and La Paulée de Meursault.
As states the film, Burgundy winemaking is like Baroque music. It possesses a duality of complexity and simplicity. Its minimalist approach and great diversity of terroir result in some of the world’s greatest wines, exhibiting exemplary structure, acidity, and balance. Vintage variation means that these wines are never duplicated again.
As explains Cécile Mathiaud, press contact for the Bureau interprofessionel des vins de Bourgogne, there exists a word in French that we do not have, gourmand(e). It means to eat, drink, and enjoy with pleasure. With this one word, she identifies the essence of Burgundy. Across these portraitures of Burgundy, one begins to feel the humanity and passion that is Burgundy. This film took me back to that evening in Beaune years ago. In that moment and during this viewing, nous sommes gourmands. Nous sommes Bourgogne.
Video and photos courtesy of Rudi Goldman Productions
I had the opportunity to preview American Wine Story the weekend of October 10-12, 2014, and after viewing it, I saw bits and pieces of myself in the movie. I moved to Napa, California nine months ago, my own leap of faith after a divine storm that shook me awake from my comfortable, yet unsatisfying life, and led me to a career in the wine industry after an initial wine epiphany in 2008.
In my mind, I also envisioned some of my wine friends in this movie: Cindy Cosco of Passaggio Wines, Mike Anderson of MTGA Wines, Michael Westerberg of Hardball Cellars, Kim and David Vance of Zoetic Wines, William Allen of Three Shepherds, Carlo Razzi of Penns Woods Winery, Brad and Lele Galer of Galer Estate, and Anthony Vietri of Va La Vineyards, just to name a few.
The primary focus of the movie is Oregon winemaker, Jimi Brooks, and the pursuit of his American dream. When Jimi suddenly dies in 2004 at the age of 38, the impact of his legacy is felt as a community of winemakers come together to work his harvest. Subsequently his sister, Janie Brooks Heuck, and winemaker Chris Williams save and grow Brooks Wines into the business it is today. The winery is now owned by Jimi’s son, Pascal, who at age 18, plans to join the business after college and traveling.
The supporting cast of passion-following winemakers, owners, wineries, and distillers includes other Oregonians such as Sam Tannahill of Rex Hill/A to Z, Jim Day of Panache Cellars, Dick Erath of Erath, Scott Wright of Scott Paul Wines, Stewart Boedecker and Athena Pappas of Boedecker Cellars, Airlie Winery, Chehalem Wines, Bull Run Distilling, Ransom Spirits, as well as those from other states, such as Alan Baker and Serena Lourie of Cartograph Wines (CA), Mike Officer and Kendall Carlisle of Carlisle Winery & Vineyards (CA), Drew Bledsoe of Doubleback (WA), Luca Paschina of Barboursville Vineyards (VA), Cindy and Al Schornberg of Keswick Vineyards (VA), Michael Amigoni’s Amigoni Wines (MO), and Todd and Kelly Bostock of Dos Cabezas WineWorks (AZ).
I was happy to see some wineries from nontraditional wine states included. However, I kept thinking, “What about the Finger Lakes and other areas of New York, Pennsylvania, Maryland, North Carolina, etc.? ” There are so many American wine stories to be told.
While on the surface, the movie is about the irresistible, career-changing call to make wine, it is ultimately a movie about living life in the moment, listening to your heart, and following your passion without hesitation, regardless of your career choice. As Pascal Brooks says near the end of the movie, “I’m not afraid to die, but I’m really afraid not to live.”
The movie will be available for purchase on October 14, 2014.
A Year in Burgundy follows San Francisco-based wine importer Martine Saunier and seven of her wineries – Domaine Leroy, Domaine Perrot-Minot, Domaine Morey-Coffinet, Domaine Bruno Clavelier, Domaine Mortet, Domaine Michel Gay & Fils, and Dominique Cornin – across the 2011 vintage year. Saunier is unique in her business, as she only imports wines from people and wineries she knows personally and visits frequently, some of which have been making wine for five generations.
The film begins with a wine trade show in San Francisco to introduce us as to why wines from Burgundy are some of the best in the world: they’re a balance of nature, terroir, and human artistry.
From that point on, the film itself resembles the birth, growth, and development of a Burgundian wine – a delicate balance of education, history, humanity, nature, and personalities – as we learn about each winemaker-artist’s approach to both life and winemaking and follow them through the four seasons of the year: spring, summer, harvest (not autumn or fall), and winter. The 2011 vintage year was a challenging one, which began with an early heat wave and bud break, continued with a summer drought, and then concluded with wet, cold rains at the end of summer close to harvest that precipitated the risk of mildew and rot to the grapes.
The viewers also learn a little about French culture especially as it concerns the importance of meals, as they witness a four-generation family meal at Domaine Morey-Coffinet, the annual Tastevinage of the Chevaliers du Tastevin at Château du Clos de Vougeot, and one of 14, four-course harvest meals at Domaine Morey-Coffinet prepared by Thibault Morey’s mother, Fabienne.
An added treat is that the movie’s music is composed by one of the younger-generation winemakers, Thibault Morey of Domaine Morey-Coffinet.
Like life and wine, the movie is very cyclical and circular, and holds you in its spell until the end when all comes to fruition, both literally and figuratively.
As someone who studied abroad in France and had my first wine moment in Beaune at age 21, as well as someone who has been tasting and studying wine both formally and informally for five years, this film is not to be missed, especially by Francophiles, those in the wine business, or those who study and/or love wine.
(All photos courtesy of www.ayearinburgundy.com/gallery/film-stills/)