It’s early summer of 2014 in Burgundy. The weather is calm as you admire your pristine vineyard site in what looks to be a rather promising vintage. Then, without notice, giant hailstones shoot down from the sky like the rapid fire of a machine-gun, wreaking havoc throughout your entire vineyard.
Within mere minutes, you have just lost 50% of your entire crop for the year….
While that may sound like a scene out of a movie, that is just one of the many realities the vignerons (winegrowers) of Burgundy are all too often forced to face. Many of us ask ourselves, “What does it mean to be a Burgundian winemaker? What about the terroir makes it the most enigmatic wine region in the world?”
Europe-based filmmaker Rudi Goldman aims to shed some light on questions like these with the recent release of his award-winning film, Burgundy: People with a Passion for Wine. Rudi and his team filmed throughout the Cóte d’Or over the course of 100 days – shooting between the annual Hospices de Beaune Wine Auction in November of 2012 until that last filming in November of 2015.
“When we first began shooting in Burgundy, my wife and I never had the intention to make a feature-length documentary film. Our original motivation to shoot in Burgundy was that we had the most famous and oldest wine region in the world just an 8-hour drive from our home in The Netherlands. We kept going back because we just fell in love with the place.” – Rudi Goldman
Focusing on both Côte de Beaune and Côte de Nuits, the film follows a set of renowned industry leaders such as Véronique Drouhin-Boss of Maison Joseph Drouhin, grower– négociants Olivier Leflaive and Maison Louis Jadot, and several others.
Throughout the film, narrators present a broad scope of the region – explaining its unique terroir, varietal characteristics, French wine terms, cooperage, and the unstable conditions that its vineyards endure year after year.
In addition to the winemaking itself, the film also dives into the traditional Burgundian culture. Among the interviewed are local Michelin-starred chefs, a truffle forager and her adorable truffle hunting dogs, runners from the semi-marathon in Côte de Beaune and others.
The film also features footage from the annual Hospices de Beaune Wine Auction – the region’s most highly anticipated event and first presentation of the newest vintage where upwards of 5 million euros worth of wine is auctioned.
What I loved
There is a genuine honesty to the film’s narrative that gives viewers a chance to feel the emotional rollercoaster that is Burgundy – at one point in the film, being a Burgundian winemaker is even referred to as a “masochist lifestyle.”
For wine lovers who find themselves ultimately perplexed by the region, this film is a perfect gateway into the world of Burgundy. It leaves out much of the dogmatism associated with the wines and instead offers first-hand accounts on some of the true pillars of Burgundy’s wine industry. It is informative, insightful, and even a little comedic at times. So whether you are brand new to wine or a veteran of the industry, you will be inspired by these incredible folks who continue to battle difficult conditions in order to produce some of the world’s finest wines.
My only critique – if this can even be considered that – is that the film only scratches the complex surface of what truly goes into each bottle of Burgundy. Its focus on négociants and traditional domaines illustrates only one side of the story. Don’t get me wrong, the négociants have everything to do with region’s commercial success in the international marketplace. But the film overlooks the new generation of winegrowers who are transforming the Burgundy wine industry as we speak. But hey, perhaps that just leaves room for a sequel?
Burgundy: People with a Passion for Wine will be released in the US & Canada on January 3rd, 2017 – available on Amazon, iTunes, and has been licensed by InDemand as a new release. Subtitles available in English and Spanish.