For more than 30 years, Martine Saunier was one of the most influential wine importers in the US, bringing in some of France’s greatest wines from Burgundy, the Rhône and Champagne, from producers like Henri Jayer, Domaine Leroy and Château Rayas. But in 2012, she sold her company and started working on a new project: documenting the vineyards and regions of which she’d been an ambassador for so long. Her first documentary, A Year in Burgundy, was released in 2013, and her newest, A Year in Champagne comes out this Friday, March 6, available on iTunes and in select theaters.
To make this gorgeous new film, Saunier teamed up with writer/director David Kennard. The film begins with an early-morning hot-air balloon ride over Champagne vineyards and ends with at 30-second Champagne ballet, with bottles bopping down the bottling line. “Champagne people can’t be too serious,” says Ghislain de Montgolfier, the president of the Union des Maisons de Champagne. “Their wine is made for celebrating and telling jokes. But perhaps when you visit their cellars and see all the hard work, you realize that it is only one aspect of their personalities.” The film covers Champagne from several angles: the war-torn history of the region, the 600 miles of chalk caves beneath it, the way in which Champagne is made and some pretty cute winery dogs. But the bulk of the film is spent trailing six producers throughout the entire 2012 vintage, a very difficult one for growers. There was practically no sunshine until August that year. It’s a great look at how everyone, from little artisan producers like Diebolt-Vallois and Gonet to larger ones like Bollinger, work in their vineyards and wineries. Open a bottle and watch the whole thing this weekend.
In the meantime, watch the full trailer here: A Year in Champagne.