“While there are more than 3,000 wine growers in France, less than 3 percent of them are working in bio, biodynamic or natural methods of wine production. For ethical reasons, this relatively small community of wine growers has chosen environmentally friendly farming practices aimed at finding the natural expression of “terroir” – the full breadth of land, geography and climate – and the living character of the wine. It’s in the south of France, in the heart of Catalonia, that WINE CALLING has followed over a year, from the harvest to the bottling, some of the most exciting of these new wine growers, springboard of a rising global movement for taste and sustainability” -Wine Calling.
I first watched Wine Calling last year while working for a natural wine producer in the Jura region in France. Bruno Sauvard, the film director was doing a promotional tour around the country, and winemakers in each region hosted a tasting, complete with a summer fête, and we all sat down together to enjoy the film, glass in hand.
The tasting itself before the screening accurately captured the essence of the film: community. This was a wine tasting hosted at the local crèche, where families gathered together to support their local farmers. Children ran around the playground, under the careful yet relaxed eye of their grandparents, while thevigneron parents set up the event, poured wines and cooked for everyone. A small donation went to the film producer, and the tasting itself was free. Of course, the wines were so pure it was hard not to purchase a few bottles after forming a real connection with these farmers. Sauvard was also here in Wellington last year during the French Film Festival so you may have already heard about this documentary or even seen it. Academy Cinemas now have it available to watch in NZ online (with subtitles).
Watching the first time around with no subtitles it was a little hard to get my head around everything the vignerons were saying. Yet, at the same time, it was easy to pick up what was going on. Why? Because the scenes were so beautifully shot,they transcended the language barrier. Scene after scene of friends and families coming together and working tirelessly for a unified goal. This is something I’ve been lucky enough to experience first-hand throughout my exploration down the rabbit hole of natural wine. (One of the best rabbit holes to go down!) These are farmers who work the land respectfully and with integrity as a community and bring “something into the world and raise it well”. Collectively allowing their wine to express itself without chemical or heavy mechanical intervention.
Wine Calling is an insightful look into the culture of natural winemaking and captures the hard work that goes into what we many months later, get to drink whenever it pleases us to do so.
“If you think natural wine is made by dropping grapes into a vat and waiting, you’re crazy!”.
Yes, there are the naysayers who believe natural wine is a regression; made by luddites for neo-consumers and hipsters. And that’s about as much attention as I’ll give these people.
Without trying to neatly summarise what ‘natural wine’ is, Wine Calling gives you a pretty good understanding of what it can be and what it certainly is not. It is not a commodity; it is not a product. It is a 2000+ year old culture, a movement, a lifestyle and a holistic approach to this crazy thing we call life. Overall it is transparency, integrity and passion. These are artists who live and breathe their work. Charles Bukowski said a lot of crude things, but I’ll give him this one “Find what you love and let it kill you”. These vignerons have found what they love, and I hope we can all be so lucky.