How would you describe your winemaking philosophy?
To see oneself as a caretaker, allowing as many intelligent conversations as possible to take place between micro-organisms in the vineyard and in the cellar. It’s this life force that gives a vineyard and its wine a sense of time and place. Vitality and complexity in the wine naturally follows. The ability to capture a time and a communication between man and nature in a bottle for people to enjoy gives great pleasure.
What wines or winemakers helped influence your philosophy?
Richard Mc Intye of Moorooduc Estate passed on valuable information about wild ferments; Nicolas Joly and Marcel Deiss inspired me to focus on the multiplicity of life in the soil to generate complexity and vitality in the bottle. Laurent Baraou of Clos Des Camuzeilles explained the importance of being pro-active in the vineyard and a procrastinator in the cellar. Magali and Dominique Terrier of Domaine Des Deux Anes introduced me to Mourvèdre in the Corbieres.
How involved in grape-growing are you? Is there a particular vineyard site that wows you year after year?
For me winemaking starts at bud burst and continues ’til the wine is placed in the bottle.
At Les Clos Perdus we have vines on three very different terroirs. Over our seven years each vineyard seems to have developed a unique voice. Like children, you love them all the same but differently.
How do you think your palate has evolved over the years? How do you think that’s influenced your wines?
I’m no longer seduced by big flavours. I like a wine to gently introduce itself and keep your attention while it takes you on a journey that lasts the duration of the bottle. I believe these wines are achieved by allowing the terroir to do the talking.
What kinds of food do you like to pair your wines with?
Our wines have good acids, a high level of minerality and are complex. Because of these factors they suit a broad range of foods. However, the reds sit really well next to game such as pheasant, wild boar, and tomato-based sauces such as tatatouille. The whites are great next to rich risottos (wild mushroom and/or duck), scallops and fish.
What changes are planned for coming vintages? Any new (top secret) varietals, blends or propriety wines on the horizon?
We have half a hectare of 110-year-old Terret Gris vines that sits just above a coastal lagoon. Thet [the grapes] give wonderfully unique whites, but we are also experimenting with a small quantity blended into our Mire Le Mer red.
Is there a style of wine that you think appeals to critics that might not represent your favorite style? How do you deal with it?
Yes, some wines jump out when placed in a group of wines, but when you get them home and are able to pay them more attention,you find they lack complexity and soul.
What do you drink when you are not drinking your own wine?
There is knowledge to be gained and wonderful jewels to be found in the wines of the Languedoc. This is whereI put most of my attention at the moment.
Do you collect wine? If so, what’s in your cellar?
My decision to collect wine always coincides with an increased rate of consumption. If I did have the discipline and time I would search out traditional style Barolos and Barbarescos. Domaine Leroy, Château Beaucastel, Giaconda, Polish Hill and some Guigal Côte Rôtie would be nice for starters.
What do you see as some of the biggest challenges facing the wine industry today?
I’m sure there are many important issues missed by winemakers like myself that spend most of their energies in the vineyard and winery. However, I do see that as producers are pushed more and more to cut prices and payments become later a lot of mid-sized producers will fall. A greater gulf will develop between commercial supermarket wines and small artisan wineries. I believe this gulf will replicate itself in the consumers who will be divided by those who just want an alcoholic beverage to consume and those who want a bottle that is able to reflect and communicates a particular time, place and culture.