June 24, 2021
Bolly or Veuve Cliquot? If you ever wanted to bluff your way through that baffling list of bubblies, then pick this warm-hearted film
Sparkling: The Story of Champagne review – a fine aperitif for the summer
Irish film producer and distribution executive Frank Mannion makes a genial host and guide to this polished survey of the highest of high-end sparkling wines; it’s entertaining in itself to watch Mannion gulping down giant goblets of the vintage under the guise of interviewing the heads of various champagne houses. There’s very much a wine-tour atmosphere to this documentary, particularly in the first half as Mannion wanders from one vineyard HQ to another, most of them located in gleaming perfume-factory type cubes perched oddly in the French countryside. If you ever thought champagnes were pretty much the same, whatever the label, well, this parade of beautifully turned-out old school champagne-makers will put you straight on the difference between Veuve Cliquot, Pol Roger, Bollinger, and the rest.
In the middle section, Mannion’s attention turns to the beverage’s successful attempts to market itself internationally – “Champagne Charlie”, AKA Charles Heidsieck of Piper Heidsieck renown, appears to be the key figure here – as well as the way champagne has smartly inserted itself into top-end entertainment and sporting events, from James Bond to Wimbledon, to keep its glamour ratings high.
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