What a charming way to spend 82 minutes. Read the rest of my review if you like, but I won’t be offended were you to opt instead for a quick download, a bottle of your favorite bubbly, your favorite movie companion and a quick call to your boss apologizing for some sudden 24-hour malady.
What? You’re still here? Guess I’d better get on with the full review.
This film’s award-winning director, David Kennard (Cosmos, A Year in Burgundy) is based in Mill Valley, CA. This factoid has nothing to do with the quality of the film and everything to do with my desire to tip my hat to the talent pool in the Bay Area.
In this, his second of three “A Year In _____” films, Kennard has replicated his success with “A Year in Burgundy”, also a joint project with the esteemed wine importer Martine Saunier.
Martine has a fine palate – I lust after some of the wines in her portfolio – and she represents some of France’s finest producers. The fact that the wineries in Kennard’s film are limited to producers she represents takes nothing away from the film itself. Though it likely makes other importers greatly jealous, she likely took more flack from other producers SHE represents who didn’t appear in the film.
I intended to watch this movie on my own, but our 12 year-old daughter wandered into the room as I was starting the DVD, and she was sufficiently moved to watch the film to its satisfying end, enjoying the process of making champagne as told in each of the film’s four seasonal sections. She even asked intelligent questions, and for the first time understood how the secondary fermentation process creates bubbles in each individual bottle. I also think the riddling rack might have its next young Riddler in the wings, at least, until she tries the repetitive job for about ten minutes.
Kennard’s film is poetic, a paean to the featured wine region, without being cloying. The music and the photography alone make it worthy of your limited free time. But his film also provides intelligent insights into the essence of the region, into its wines, of course, but also the history, people and foods that are the foundation of these wines.
This is not a film for learning ABOUT wine. You can get the more raw information in far less time from any basic introductory text. This is a film that lends a better UNDERSTANDING of wine, and what makes them fascinating and uniquely different, one from the other.
Trust me, “A Year in Champagne” will leave any wine buff smiling. Especially if you follow my suggestion to watch it with a bottle of your favorite bubbly well chilled and close at hand.