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2000 Labégorce, Margaux $39.99

A great value in Bordeaux! This bottle is mature enough to drink now, but has time in hand if you want to keep it in the cellar for the future. We love it for its laid back elegance and classic balance. A must try for your next nice steak dinner.

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Entries in winemaker (7)

Wednesday
Jun092010

Winemaker Interview: Alfred Tesseron

 

Name: Alfred Tesseron

Winery: Ch. Pontet Canet

Number of years in business: More than 35 years

Describe your winemaking philosophy? 

As pure as possible in the wine process. Vinification has just to express the potential of the grapes, without the help of any technology or technique. Winemaking became secondary regarding terroir and growing.

How do you think your palate has evolved over the years? How do you think that’s influenced your wines?

I like wines that are more sincere in the expression of their terroir. So, I like lower oak taste than 10 years ago. I think that many amateurs had the same evolution.

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?

There are too many great wines to focus only on those I don't like!

What changes are planned for coming vintages? Any new (top secret) varietals, blends or propriety wines on the horizon?

I don't know what will be the next Pontet-Canet vintages. We do not totally decide it. We just try to serve the terroir and the vines growing on it. They will decide and we will try to express what they want to say with the utmost sincerity.

Do you collect wine? If so, what’s in your cellar?

I have too many wines in my cellar and these wines are made to be tried not too old. I enjoy very much using the corkscrew to be aware of what is happening throughout the world.

What do you see as some of the biggest challenges facing the wine industry today?

The term "wine industry" is not totally correct. There is a wine industry that means that some wines are produced on industrial basis for customers with low tasting-culture.

We don't belong to this world. Apart the "wine industry" there is a "wine sphere" containing the great wines; among them, Pontet-Canet.

The wine industry will have to move and evolve to adapt to know customers and high competition; a business close from classical industry (cars, socks, clothes…)

Great wines will have to preserve their terroir for next generations and keep on producing wine that expresses any subtlety provided by this terroir. It is an other challenge.

Tuesday
Mar302010

Winemaker Interview: Sean & Nicola Allison

Describe your winemaking philosophy.

We believe that good wine is made in the vineyard. To this end, over the last five years we have been concentrating on our vineyard management—reduced yields, good canopy management and sustainable viticulture. We have officially entered this year into the organic conversion for the Avocat vineyards. We have been following a non-chemical path for the land and have decided to officially formalise it, and it will take three years before we can label our wines organic. As a consequence, the grapes that enter the winery should be ripe, disease free and tasting good! However, we live in Bordeaux and some would say that the powers up above dictate the weather and hence the vintage!

What wines or winemakers helped influence your philosophy?

Didier Dagueneau, who passed away last year, for his use of biodynamic practices, wild yeasts and generally not being afraid to do things (and look) differently. Sandrine Garby, winemaker at Yquem, for being a fantastic winemaker and such a gracious person.

How involved in grape-growing are you? Is there a particular vineyard site that wows you year after year?

We do everything here; we own all our vineyards and we don’t source fruit from elsewhere. So pretty involved! The Avocat vineyard, which we bought in 2002, is a single “enclos” vineyard. Before we bought it, it had been abused, but after five years of careful viticulture it is starting to produce WOW fruit. It is on an elevated plateau exposed to the elements, and 100 years ago it was a famous vineyard that had been allowed to lose its way!

How do you think your palate has evolved over the years? How do you think that’s influenced your wines?

Yes, of course. I believe it is so important to taste as many wines as possible, from all different regions and producers. The cellar palate is a huge disability for producers. I think our wines have evolved due to our palates, but we also listen to our consumers, who are looking for less alcohol and approachable wines. Studies show that apart from investors, 90% of wine bought is drunk within five days of purchase.

What kinds of food do you like to pair your wines with?

Our dry white with “fruit de mers.” Come to the Bassin D’Arcachon and have a glass of dry Bordeaux /Graves wine with a plate of oysters—unbeatable! Of course the barrel-aged Graves has sufficient enough weight to accompany chicken and pork dishes. I have to admit to being partial to it as an aperitif when I am cooking! The Avocat red is excellent with any red meat, game (I have a recipe for Hoi Sin Duck on the barbecue if any one is interested!), pasta and cheese. However, my view is that there are not any right and wrongs in wine matching—if you enjoy it while eating popcorn in front of the baseball game, GREAT.

What changes are planned for coming vintages? Any new (top secret) varietals, blends or propriety wines on the horizon?

We have planted half a hectare of Carmenère this year—it will be interesting to see how that ripens here in Bordeaux. It was widely used here in the 18th Century. I have another secret, but it would not be a secret if I told you…

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?

I am afraid that some of the old boy critics would not really like our wines; we are not into gigantic alcoholic fruit bombs and do not use a reverse osmosis machine to concentrate the wines. Reverse osmosis=points with several important critics. We deal with it by finding clients who are capable of making their own mind up about the style of wines they appreciate, generally these clients appreciate finesse, quality and good value! For example K&L!

What do you drink when you are not drinking your own wine?

At the moment we are fortunate to have a collection of Napa wines made by female winemakers. I am part of a group of women, “Women in Wine,” and we received 16 female vintners from Napa in January. So, had a glass of Spottswood 2005 last night—delicious .

Do you collect wine? If so, what’s in your cellar?

Yes, we collect all vintages from Léoville-Barton—one of the good value Cru Classé each year. We also have a few cases of the ’05 Bordeaux from the top Cru, but I think they will go towards college fees. I cannot bring myself to drink wines of this value.

What do you see as some of the biggest challenges facing the wine industry today?

There are quite a few! At the moment the strength of the Euro for us is a problem for our export market, we do listen to our importers and try to make things easier for them to sell our wines at a consistent price. Unfortunately, production costs are still increasing here in France, and with the weaker economy worldwide it is tough for everybody at the moment…

The other big challenge for the wine industry is to try and negate the publicity put out by the anti-alcohol brigade. Of course wine must be drunk in moderation, sensibly and socially. Wine is a vital part of the food experience. No one is recommending over-drinking nor drunk behaviour. However, surely individuals should be responsible for their behaviour, not relying on the state to make all alcohol consumption illegal?

What about the French paradox? Why not ban butter, salt, sugar, fat and red meat while we are at it? Let us all eat lentils, rice and drink only water. Whoever thought life should be fun and living a pleasurable experience would be mistaken in this current big brother environment. People have to start taking responsibility for their own decisions (good and bad) and stop looking to Government all the time!

 

Wednesday
Sep022009

Winemaker Interview: Frédéric Mabileau, Domaine Frédéric Mabileau

Frédéric Mabileau in the vineyard.

How would you describe your winemaking philosophy?

Walking the thin line between erasing myself as much as possible from the process, being the least intrusive as possible while trying to conquer nature without violating it.

What wines or winemakers helped influence your philosophy?

All the great French domains, especially the ones working organically or biodynamic always were models for me. In the Loire Valley I learned a lot from people like the Foucault brothers (Clos Rougeard) in Saumur-Champigny, Marc Angeli (Ferme de la Sansonniere) or Nicolas Joly (Coulee de Serrant) in Savennières about the farming and the soil diversity of my vineyards.

How involved in grape-growing are you? Is there a particular vineyard site that wows you year after year?

I am a classic example of an Old World wine “vigneron,” this French word that does not have a direct translation in English but which means being a farmer AND a winemaker at the same time. Therefore I grow and harvest my own fruits and this part of my work is essential to me. I am everyday in my vineyards with my team, from the pruning to the harvesting season. It is so important to see the vine evolving, suffering and expressing itself throughout the different seasons.

I have always been impressed by the breathtaking slopes of Mosel, Rhône Valley or the Beaujolais, but on a more personal level I love a parcel that was planted 40 years ago by my grandfather: no dramatic slope although it is overlooking the appellation but I like going there to watch the sunset and receive some special vibes that make me feel like I am part of my family history.

How do you think your palate has evolved over the years? How do you think that’s influenced your wines?

I had the same evolution as any average person: At first I liked big, rich, opulent bottles. Today I favour wines with finesse, elegance, acidity, saltiness and find demonstrative wines boring. Naturally, I have been trying to produce wines with tension and finesse.

What kinds of food do you like to pair your wines with?

I have always loved Japanese cuisine and right now I like to pair it with my Cab Franc Rosé. On the red side, and to stay on Asian food pairing, Peking duck and Bourgueil is a nice bridge to build between two culinary worlds.

What changes are planned for coming vintages? Any new (top secret) varietals, blends or propriety wines on the horizon?

Actually quite a lot for my artisan standards: We will be harvesting for the first time this year a white Rouilleres bottling made from Chenin Blanc that I planted five years ago right next to my single vineyard of Cab Franc. Also, in few weeks we will bottle our top cuvée “Eclipse” which is made of our oldest Cab Franc (over 50 years old) and only produced in great vintages (2005 was the last vintage).  

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?

The reality is that many wines today are tailored to win awards, accolades and great scores and as a result tend to be uniform: big, rich, high alcohol, in your nose vanilla notes... But most of the time I don’t enjoy drinking them. This “trend” actually pushes me to go even further in the search of minerality in my wines.

What do you drink when you are not drinking your own wine?

Anything! French, non-French, natural wines with low sulphites, Syrah wherever it is coming from... I usually do not drink my own wine during lunch or dinner as I have all day opportunities to taste them and therefore I really try as much as possible to discover new producers or varietal when I am dining.

Do you collect wine? If so, what’s in your cellar?

Not really. But I do have some great Bordeaux and Rhône: Latour, Fieuzal, Pape Clément, Pichon Comtesse, Côte Rôtie from Cuilleron, Jamet and Cornas from Clape.

What do you see as some of the biggest challenges facing the wine industry today?

There are many: Make wines that are ethically correct and educate  customers about terroir-driven wines. A great challenge is for producers all around the world not to fall into mass-production, which often leads to pollution. I want to leave to my children a vineyard which is clean from pollutants and I hope we can all do the same globally and leave a planet free of any pollutants for future generations. If on top of that we can also explain that wine, when drunk moderately, is good for health we would have done a nice job!