Was glad to catch this film on my last flight. It’s a French film set in Burgundy, and it’s probably the most gorgeously wine-focused film I’ve seen: even more so than Sideways. And Jean-Marc Roulot, winegrower and professional actor, is in it!
The main characters are three siblings, Jean (the oldest), Juliette and Jérémie. Frustrated by the life as a vigneron’s son, and experiencing a difficult relationship with his father, Jean leaves for the new world, eventually settling in Australia where we learn later he has a son with his partner Alicia. We meet him as he returns to the family domaine during his father’s final illness. He reunites with his two siblings (who are surprised to see him: they haven’t heard from him for years) and together they have to decide the future for their domaine: they need to pay €500 000 in inheritance taxes, money they don’t have. But their vineyard holdings are worth €6 million, so do they sell part or all of their land?
But first, there is vintage to deal with. Jean joins in, supporting his inexperienced but strong-minded sister who was expecting to have to make the wine on her own. They go through the vineyard, tasting the grapes. This is an example of some of the wine detail in the film: it’s an exchange between the main characters, when Juliette suggests they should pick in 8 days’ time.
Jean: In 8 days?
Juliette: Yes, in 8 days.
Jean: Taste the sun side. I’d say Thursday.
Juliette: In 4 days?
Jean: Yes. If you start in 8 days you will be too late for the reds. It will be sweet by the end. They taste good already, don’t they?
Juliette: But the skin is tough, and shouldn’t it be thinner and juicer? The seeds are barely brown. I’d wait till they are fleshier.
Jean: So you want to make an easy wine? Like Dad’s? Don’t you want a taut, acidic wine?
Jérémie: Why not wait for the lab results. By 3 o’clock we will know what we are talking about.
Jean: Taste it again.
This is a really wine-focused film, exploring family dynamics with the wine domaine at the centre of it all. There’s some lovely footage of the growing season, the harvest, tasting in barrel cellars and the winemaking process. There’s even discussion of the proportion of stems in Pinot Noir.
This is a trailer of the film: