I always knew there was a big difference between sparkling wine and Champagne, but I thought the biggest difference came from the fact that Champagne is made in Champagne and therefore inherits the name. After having seen A Year in Champagne I know how incredibly wrong I was.
In the French documentary A Year in Champagne we follow wine importer Martine Saunier to the north east of France, there we get to visit Champagne and here the incredible story this region has to tell. It is a harsh story about wars and bad weather, as one wine maker from the region states, if you look at old pictures from Champagne you will notice that no one is smiling. Which is quite ironic since smiling is probably one of the first things you come to think of when you hear Champagne. It is a beverage for happy care free occasions. The story then continues and shows how the beverage is made, all the way from vine to wine and then ending up as a bubbly refreshing bottle of Champagne. We get to follow some of the biggest brands in the region as well as some smaller producers, it is truly a historic place and the people who live and work there carry on the tradition.
Director David Kennard is the one who takes on this journey and he does a good job. Sure he has a lot of help from the beautiful and photogenic landscape but he manages to take the luxurious elegant beverage we all know and show the ordinary people behind it. It starts of very extravagant with one producer celebrating his birthday by traveling across his fields in a hot air balloon while looking down at his workers. But it ends up humanizing the way Champagne is made and the way the people of Champagne care for their beverage.
This is a good documentary about a global beverage with a really interesting history, however some parts of the documentary takes some shortcuts and speeds up a bit too fast. The result is that as a viewer you sometimes get a bit lost, especially when trying to understand if it is the wine importer Saunier or the narrator who is telling the story. All in all it was a pleasure to experience A Year in Champagne, visually stunning and at the same time educating.
Check out the trailer below.