Wine Industry Interviews:
Rudi Goldman, Filmmaker
“Burgundy: People with a Passion for Burgundy.”
by: L.M. Archer
Note: This is an update of a previously published interview.
I first met Netherlands-based media impresario Rudi Goldman through our mutual appreciation of Burgundy, and my own appreciation of his film Burgundy: People with a Passion for Wine.
In this exclusive interview, Goldman shares what it was like working with Burgundy’s notables, including Véronique Drouhin-Boss of Maison Joseph Drouhin, plus a few of his most memorable moments behind the camera, and the inside scoop on some never-seen ‘outtakes’…enjoy!
What inspired you to make a movie about Burgundy? Did you know a great deal about the region before filming the movie?
During the past several years, my wife and I made several short wine/food/lifestyle promotional films in Argentina and Chile. Being a two-man crew, we ended up schlepping a horrendous amount of equipment onto cars, busses and planes, and in and out of hotel rooms and wineries. This was just too exhausting and expensive, since we are based in Europe. In 2012, we came to realize that Burgundy, one of the most famous and oldest wine regions in the world, was just a 6-hour drive from our home in The Netherlands. This is how it all began.
Later, through a Dutch Burgundy wine consultant friend, we were introduced to Alex Gambal, an American négociant Burgundy wine producer in Beaune. I remember the words he spoke as if it were yesterday: “If you really want to make a documentary about Burgundy, then you have to read these books and watch these films.” He threw down the challenge, and we eagerly accepted. Along with Véronique Drouhin-Boss, who also narrates, Gambal is featured in the film.
Talk about the significance of enlisting Véronique Drouhin-Boss of Maison Joseph Drouhin, a fourth-generation vigneron from one of Burgundy’s most prestigious producers, as a featured presence throughout the film? What was she like to work with?
Winemaker Véronique Drouhin-Boss is the “guardian” of the Maison Joseph Drouhin style. A kind and extremely knowledgeable English speaker, Véronique was a pure pleasure to work with. It was important for us to enlist one of Burgundy’s most prestigious wine producers for the film. Additionally, some rarely seen and visually captivating footage was shot in their historic 12 -13th century cellars, formerly owned by the Church of Notre Dame.
What were some of the most memorable moments for you from the film?
Côte d’Or harvests of Domaine Vincent Bourzereau, Bernadette & Bernard Ecobichon in Meursault, Château de la Crée in Santenay & Clos du Moulin aux Moines in Auxey-Duresses; expert winemaking insights with Maison Louis Jadot head winemaker Jacques Lardière (retired); hail damage comments with Thiebault Huber, Domaine Huber-Verdereau in Volnay; New York Sommelier Michael Madrigale’s closing words at the Paulée de Meursault; two-week old barrel tasting at the Hospices de Beaune cellars; singing hunting horn group in the cellars of Meursault winemaker Vincent Bouzereau.
What about behind the camera?
Caught in the hail storm overlooking Puligny-Montrachet; Paulée de Meursault, winemaker lunch with 700 attendees; barrel making in the shop of the world’s most famous wine barrel producer (Tonnellerie François Frères); wine brotherhood gathering at the prestigious Château de Santenay and behind the scenes with Michelin-starred chef Jérôme Brochot; fighting for the best angles and shots with a slew of other camera crews at Christie’s Wine Auction.
Your international, award-winning film and television career spans over forty years, and includes other wine, food, travel and tourism films. What about filming this movie differs from any of your previous projects?
I am accustomed to having a reasonable budget and professional crew. This film was made on a very low budget, and was self-funded. As a two-person crew, we were literally a one-man band. I produced, directed, shot, lit and edited the film. [My wife] Lydia, who is a medical doctor conducted interviews in French and English and functioned as camera and lighting assistant, as well as sound recordist and translator. We needed to move quickly and grab the action. At events like the Paulée de Meursault, and the pre-auction Hospices de Beaune barrel tasting, there was no time for setups. We used portable, battery operated LED lighting, many times hand-held by Lydia. To capture intimacy, there was a lot of hand-held camera work. At the Paulée de Meursault we shot for six hours without sitting, eating or drinking. The camera became one of the participants. In general, we had to work smart to get into events and activities that were not open to the public or to the mass of journalists covering the Trois Glorieuses weekend.
On a personal note, you are a former USAF pilot and Hollywood producer/director. How do these past experiences inform how you approach your work today?
Finding great stories and good story telling are always the primary objective. Then there’s experience, technical knowledge, a deep compulsion to learn, a sense of visual and sound flow, inventiveness, creativity, perseverance, gung-ho attitude, respect for local people and their culture, a child-like excitement and a love affair with the subject. These were the secrets to success with our Burgundy film.
Anything else you care to share about your movie ‘Burgundy: People with a Passion for Wine’ that you think readers should know to help them better understand and appreciate the film?
Burgundy is complex. Our concept makes an attempt to demystify Burgundy for buffs, wine lovers, amateurs, industry professionals and anyone who cares about where the wine they buy comes from. We attempted to find out how the consumer can navigate the complexity of Burgundy and how to recognize quality over name recognition, as well as what to look for to recognize quality over marketing and reputation. Voila!
Finally, if making ‘Burgundy: People with a Passion for Wine’ has taught you anything, it’s taught you…?
How to find an enjoyable Burgundy wine at a reasonable price. For years before venturing into making the film, my wife and production partner and I would overnight in various Côte d’Or towns and villages on the way to the Provence. We were always disappointed when tasting wines at local wine bars and restaurants. Not only was the price/quality ratio completely out of whack, but the wines just didn’t taste that great compared to other French wine regions. And paying a higher price didn’t really seem to make that much of a difference. Back then, Lydia was actually convinced that she didn’t like Pinot noir.