With Champagne and Burgundy, the region is as famous as the wine. With Port, however, it’s the wine that shines and its source, the Douro valley in the northern provinces of Portugal, is left in its shadow. This poses a challenge and an opportunity for the filmmaker to the open our eyes.
A Year in Port brings Port into our homes the history, people and places that make it the legendary drink it has become. From the serene and cinematic Douro Valley with its steep, terraced vineyards to the bustle of Porto, the filmmakers follow the biggest names in Port wine from the picking and stomping to the blending and aging. Tradition remains strong with Port, so the segues offer glimpses that go beyond the wine nerd’s necessities and opens the film up to the masses.
Though at times feeling like a travelogue or a Niepoort ad (he is the rebel to the Brits who have dominated this niche for centuries), there’s passion in the film as we’re given an intimate look into the struggles the wineries face and the traditions that bind them while keeping the end product true to its roots.
I am a keener, true, so I felt some details were missing such as plunging us further into the vineyards, talking about the grapes and such. But granted, naming grapes doesn’t make for a very cinematic experience and I do have wine bibles to trawl through.
All in all, it was a pleasant and quick ride that makes me want to book a flight for Porto and wine my way up and down those Douro hillsides.