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05 February 2013

Film: 'Les Terroiristes du Languedoc'

I was slouched in the off-red velvet front row (stiff neck anyone) at the packed out Diagonal cinema in Montpellier old town recently for the premiere of American wine filmmaker (or film winemaker perhaps?!) Ken Payton's new documentary, Les Terroiristes du Languedoc. This enjoyable (although arguably half-hour too long, a little more editing needed me thinks...) piece of wine storytelling follows the trials and tribulations of a dozen Languedoc wine estate owners from worries about the weather and bank manager in late spring 2012 to slight relief of vintage time of that same and somewhat unpredictable and challenging year.

Ken Payton
The stars of the film are (highlight = link to post, updates to follow on some of these): John & Nicole Bojanowski from Le Clos du Gravillas in stunningly set St. Jean de Minervois; John & Liz Bowen from Domaine Sainte-Croix in not exactly ugly either Fraïssé-Corbières; Emmanuel Pageot & Karen Turner from Domaine Turner Pageot in Gabian; Virgile Joly, wife and kids in Saint Saturnin; Cyril Bourgne from Domaine La Madura, Saint Chinian; bubbly Brigitte Chevalier from Domaine de Cébène in difficult to pronounce Caussiniojouls, Faugeres country; André Leenhardt at Château de Cazeneuve in Pic St-Loup; François Delhon from Domaine Bassac in Puissalicon north of Béziers; Eric & Vianney Fabre from Château d'Anglès in St Pierre la Mer on beautiful La Clape 'almost-island' near Narbonne; Frédéric & Marie Chauffray, La Réserve d'O up in the Terrasses du Larzac; Jean-Pierre Vanel from Lacroix-Vanel in Caux near Pézenas; and last but not least Thierry Rodriquez from Prieuré de St Sever/Mas Gabinèle, in Causse et Veyran on the far-eastern St-Chinian high ground.
I particularly liked the way you get an insight into the problems, setbacks and difficulties (keeping a sense of humour though) that face guys like this running a vineyard and selling the wine they produce, as a business trying to make a living as much as any lifestyle choice or whatever. You also get a feel for these likeable personalities behind the labels including e.g. those little disagreements between the partners involved (business, husband and wife, sons and daughters etc.), which is certainly more interesting than 12 people would be all going on about nothing but their special terroir. There are some pretty vine-scape shots for sure (not too difficult in the Languedoc wild-lands), but not too much - menacing cloud and big wind are as much a feature here as what could easily become over-idealized dream-scapes.

Anyway, nice one Ken. Apparently, Les Terroiristes du Languedoc will be available on DVD and online sometime soon-ish. Check out their Facebook page for more info: facebook.com/LesTerroiristesDuLanguedoc

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Header image: Château de Flandry, Limoux, Languedoc. Background: Vineyard near Terrats in Les Aspres, Roussillon.