A new film about Burgundy – starring the formidable co-owner of Domaine de la Romanée-Conti – premieres next week in London.
A Year in Burgundy follows the fortunes of seven producers from bud-break to harvest – in one of the most remarkable vintages of recent times, the 2011.
Lalou Bize-Leroy of Maison Leroy, who owns Domaine de la Romanée-Conti along with Aubert de Villaine, features alongside six of her neighbours.
These include Christophe Perrot-Minot of Domaine Perrot-Minot in Morey-Saint-Denis, Michel Morey and Fabienne Coffinet at Dme Morey-Coffinet in Chassagne Montrachet, Bruno Clavelier at Vosne-Romanée and others.
British director David Kennard – a veteran of documentaries who a few years ago made a film with John Cleese called Wine for the Confused, whose distribution Cleese blocked – wanted to ‘show the heart and soul of an artisan winemaker,’ he told Decanter.com from his production company offices in San Francisco.
Kennard’s consultant on the film is American-based importer Martine Saunier, who eased access to the formidable Bize-Leroy, and the other winemakers.
‘Lalou is a perfectionist and demands that things are the way she wants to be,’ Kennard said. ‘But she gives some stunning interviews in the film.’
A Year in Burgundy – the name is a conscious echo of Peter Mayle’s expat memoir A Year in Provence – follows the fortunes of the producers as they cope with spring heatwaves of 2011, the fear of frost, and devastating hailstorms before harvest.
‘It’s a human drama,’ Kennard said. ‘We see the lines on their faces. It’s anxiety in real time.’
The director said he was keen not to follow in the footsteps of the renowned but divisive anti-globalisation documentary Mondovino.
‘It’s the exact opposite to Mondovino in that I don’t have a message that I want to put across. It’s much closer to [2004’s romantic comedy Sideways], but here I’m the fly on the wall.’
A working cut of A Year in Burgundy was first shown at the International Pinot Noir Celebration in Oregon in July, where LA Weekly described it as ‘luxurious and quite beautifully shot’.
It will be released to DVD with limited US-only cinema distribution. Kennard is ‘looking for a deal with UK TV’ at the moment, he said.
The film’s backer, an investment banker, has already given the green light to start filming A Year in Champagne, which features ‘boutique growers’ as well as Bollinger and Gosset. Kennard said he would like to make a series along the same lines. More funding will be dependent on the success of the first film, he said.
A Year in Burgundy premieres in London next week, followed by Paris and New York.
Written by Adam Lechmere