Exploring the Passion of Burgundy

I am often asked what is my favorite wine. Favorite? The world of wine is so vast it is next to impossible for me to select one. That being said I do have a desert island wine, the one I would select if I could only have one wine for the rest of my life. My desert island wine is Pinot Noir, and if pressed for a region, I have to say Burgundy.



Though I have not been to Burgundy yet, I feel there is no wine more expressive of its time and place than Burgundy. I was recently offered the opportunity to preview the award-winning film Burgundy: People with a Passion for Wine, released October 13, 2016. I jumped at the chance for a peek inside Burgundy through the lens of filmmaker Rudi Goldman. Take a moment to watch the trailer

Over the course of an hour this movie transports the viewer into all that is Burgundy. We are introduced to a myriad of Burgundy wine producers who share their love for the grape and the complexities of their home. Alex Gambal, winemaker/owner of Maison Alex Gambal, Beaune, an American who moved to Burgundy with his family and became a winemaker in the late 90’s, explains the paradox of Burgundy; the rules are tight and rigid regarding what is planted, where to plant, how to harvest, etc; however, within the strict rules there is limitless freedom for creativity and nuances. He further uses music as an analogy to explain, at times Burgundy holds the complexities yet simplicity of Baroque music, with its rigid rules, yet also providing space for the wild freedom of classic rock. This is Burgundy.

Burgundy's harvest in the Côte d’Or
Burgundy’s harvest in the Côte d’Or

“I listen to Bach and Baroque music all day. I think to a degree Burgundy is a bit Baroque. Its complex, yet there is a certain simplicity to it. The more you listen to it the more it makes sense. You never grow tired of it. At the same time, about 5 o’clock I’ll put on old classic rock and roll. I love that kind of music. I think sometimes there is a certain wildness to it, a certain freedom. This is Burgundy. Even though we have to make the wines within very strict rules, there is a certain freedom because within those rules you can do a lot of interesting things.” ~ Alex Gambal, winemaker/owner Maison Alex Gambal

The Burgundy paradox is depicted throughout the movie as it highlights classic Burgundian traditions meeting modern technologies and cultural adaptations. However, the beauty of the traditions appear to be honored and even elevated as new generations express their love of Burgundy. From the Beaune market, to Grand Cru vineyards, to villages such as Meursault, we are offered an experiential and visually stimulating tour of Burgundy. We are transported on a Burgundian truffle hunt, a harvest lunch, taken into dark, mold covered historical cellars that date back a century or more where the wine ages quietly. We visit iconic Burgundy events such as the Great Burgundy Wine Festival, the Confrérie des Grumeurs de Santenay, the Semi-Marathon de la Vente des vins de Beaune, Wine Brotherhood Ceremony, Hospices de Beaune Wine Auction, and La Paulée de Meursault. And we drool as we witness the artistic preparation of meals at two of Burgundy’s Michelin Star restaurants.

Truffle hunting in Crépey
Truffle hunting in Crépey

“Some of our wines are really gourmand, in French. But gourmand is a word you don’t have in English. It’s when you drink this glass and then you say I want another one as soon as possible…just because you enjoyed it and it was such a pleasure in your mouth and in your nose that you want to taste it again to enjoy this moment again. Gourmand is appreciat[ion] of good food and good wine in small quantities with elegance and a little snobbish.” ~ Cecile Mathiaud, Attaché de Press, Bureau Inter-professional des Vins Bourgogne, Beaune

The quaint Burgundian village of Monthélie
The quaint Burgundian village of Monthélie

The movie takes care to illustrate the environmental challenges and benefits of Burgundy. Located at the 47th parallel, Burgundy is as far north as possible to ripen red grapes and chardonnay. Hail is an annual weather event in Burgundy. The movie explains hail typically effects a small area of vineyards; however, over the past few years hail has increased in size, and intensity while becoming much more wide spread. In 2014, it took four minutes of hail to wipe out 50% of all Burgundy grapes. The movie highlights solutions that are being sought to protect the vines but they can be expensive. The limestone soil of Burgundy is diverse and changes frequently as a result of historical continental collisions and erosion, adding different nuances to Burgundy wines depending on the vineyard location. The movie explains, “if you don’t believe in terroir Burgundy is the wrong place to be.”

“I feel I have a mission…for the wine that is bottled to really reflect its origin.” ~ Veronique Drouhin-Boss, 4th generation winemaker, Maison Joseph Drouhin.

The movie takes us inside harvest, which brings joy and hope each year. It is celebrated by the winemakers and the workers that come from all over the world to harvest Burgundy. Finally, we are exposed to the construction of Burgundian wine barrels. A craft that is timeless in its techniques and made to order. In Burgundy, the barrel makers believe “oak is a wife to the wine.”

Toasting the wine barrels at Tonnellerie François Frères, Saint Romain
Toasting the wine barrels at Tonnellerie François Frères, Saint Romain

Burgundy: People with a Passion for Wine is a movie for anyone who loves Burgundy, loves wine, or enjoys learning about how others pursue their passions. It is filled with heart, joy and laughter, is educational but not stuffy or dogmatic, and conveys the passions of the Burgundian wine industry with charm. Watching it further fueled my desire to not only visit Burgundy, but to know Burgundy. I watched it twice and loved it both times.


In the spirit of gourmand, I enjoyed this movie with pleasure.

Burgundy: People with a Passion for Wine pairs perfectly with a glass of Burgundy!

You may rent the movie for $4.99 or buy it for $10.99. It is also available now on Amazon and iTunes in the EU and coming soon in the US. Click here to learn more, rent, or buy this charming movie.

5 responses to “Exploring the Passion of Burgundy”

    • I simply must go! I am a bit nervous to go the first time on my own b/c there is so much I don’t know. I would love to take a press trip there to learn the region then go back with my hubby to explore. You have been so many times, perhaps you can be our tour guide!

      • Sign me up! If you decide to go on your own, I’d be happy to share the resources I’ve used. The personal/small group wine tour guides are just too expensive for my taste. Plus, some of the mistakes we’ve made have turned into wonderful experiences!

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