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/)