It’s time for the first wine movie of the year: A year in Champagne. I got the chance to see a pre-screening of the movie a few days ago. The film is structured much the same way as A year in Burgundy (2013), I wrote about it in Swedish about a year ago. We are allowed to come along on a trip into the vineyards, into wineries, into the cellars and into the private sphere of the familes of Champagne wine making and get glimpses of what they during a year.
The film crew followed a few champagne makers during 2012. A year that turned out to be a dramatic year. It all starts up with the hopes and preparations during the winter and continues into a cold and harsh spring with only a few hours of sun. Hope turns into nervous nail-chewing and despair. A well deserved break is Midsummer eve, the sun seems to return and so also the good mood of our winemakers, dancing and parting lifts the spirits. But the rain do return and there seems to be no light at the end of the tunnel…
Let’s start from the beginning of the film where we follow with the winemaker Xavier Gonet and his wife Julie Médeville up in a hot air balloon, on his 40th birthday and along with them to see Champagne from above. The view over a the beautiful Champagne lanscape and the vineyards is a perfect begining for the journey. Our traveling companions are, except Gonet & Médeville, Stephane Coquilette, Isabelle Diebolt and winemakers and owners of the wine houses Bollinger and Gosset and a few others from different organizations in Champagne.
They tell us about the work and the different stages work during the year. If they are not in the vineyards to control knobs, disease, insect infestation, picking grapes etc. then they are in the wine cellars turning bottles or controling how the wine develops, discussing cuvées, cleaning vats and barrels or making wine after the harvest. There is always work to be done. It is in these stories you get an insight in how rigorously it all works, how rule-based it is. There are rules on how the vines are bound and cut, when to harvest, how much grape juice, you have the right to squeeze from the grapes and the list goes on. You need to know your Champagne-bible if you want to do Champage.
The rules are there for a reason, to ensures and maintain the quality of even the cheapest champagnes and thus maintain champagne as the noblest of drinks. The rules make it more difficult for those who want to be individual and innovative, however, there are those who succeed to be that as well, within the regulatory standards.
The film is based on the current situation, 2012, and provide an understanding of how they make their fabulous wines. It illustrates the work in the vineyards, the harvest and the work in the winery. 2012 was a hard year and that do shines through in the movie. We see many wrinkled brows, rain drenched vines and hear about problems, but we also see knowledge and a willingness to move forward to find solutions. It shows how they try to save what can be saved, how there is room for innovation and how new rules comes to be: No more helicopters in the Champagne vineyards!
This is a film for those who love champagne and who are interested in wine, it has something to give to those who are beginners but also for me who has more knowledge. It also has something for you who are not wine geeks, there are human stories and meetings, on history of Champagne as a brand, the 1500 years of wars that scared Champagne, about the grand lafy of Champagne Lily Bollinger and about the dog Bouchon (cork).
Did they see the light at the end of the tunnel, did they get any grapes, were they quality grapes – all these and many questions will be answered if you take your time to see the film. So pour your self a glass of champagne, sit back and enjoy A year in Champagne!
The film is directed by David Kennard and will be released on iTunes March 6, 2015 and will also appear in some movie theaters.
You can pre-order the film here.
The offical webpage is here.
All pictures in this article are © Ruppert International Inc. 2015
Ps. I don’t know if you ever heard of Champagne Jayne or not. if you haven’t you should read Jim Budd’s execellent article on her struggle against CIVC. I love champagne and I won’t stop drinkig it, but I don’t love what CIVC is doing against Champagne Jayne, if you feel the same I advise you to consider supporting her by a donation via Jayne vs. Goliath Ds.