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Guest Stars
Guest Stars

The producers take to the road, part three

Winemaker Roundtable

How much of a priority for you is visiting other wine regions?  What is the NEXT wine region you plan to visit, and why?

Cris Cherry, Villa Creek (Paso Robles, California). Just recently has my schedule allowed me to visit other regions of interest. This past summer my family and I traveled to the Roussillon, Costières de Nîmes, and Châteauneuf du Pape. Those regions have been exciting me for several reasons. The main grapes grenache, carignan, mourvedre and syrah are all grapes I make wines from in West Paso Robles. The climate is similar and I find the wines to have tremendous personality. The next region to be re-visited will be CdP. We are attending and pouring at the Printemps de Châteauneuf du Pape in early April. From there, up to the Northern Rhone. The ideas and inspirations that come from tasting and chatting with other vignerons is always thought-provoking. Although I don’t want to copy the wines of any one region it is fun to channel the inspiration back to our terroir.

Lynnette Hudson, Pegasus Bay Winery (Waipara, New Zealand). Visiting other wine regions is very high on my priority list as it is important to learn about all other wines styles of the world and to keep up with new vintages as well as new and established producers. In fact, in the last 20 years I have based all my holidays around visiting other wine regions and only remember one holiday in this period which did not involve a trip to a wine region as well.

I recently travelled to Burgundy and Champagne and toured through Italy from Salento to Umbria and Tuscany, finishing in Piedmont. Burgundy being my region of priority as it is the home of great pinot noir and chardonnay. Tasting with producers provides the opportunity to taste current vintages and to discuss trends and wine production techniques. This stimulates new ideas for making better wines in the forthcoming harvest. Tasting in August 2012 in Burgundy it was interesting to see how many producers are again using whole bunches during fermentation of pinot noir. Discussions particularly revolved around the percentage of whole bunches—ranging from 30 to 40%, and when to use 100%.

Travelling through Italy was enlightening to see the range of wine styles and to try to broaden my knowledge of the country’s wines. White wines especially are rapidly changing, with many producers making more elegant, restrained wines using reductive techniques, rather than the more oxidative handling typical of the past.

There are no plans at the moment for my next holiday to a wine region, but I am hoping to go back to Hungary and Romania one day soon. I worked in these two countries back in 1994 and 1995 and I imagine that the changes to the wine industry, especially in Romania, will have been huge since then. It will be exciting to see regions I visited almost 20 years ago and see how viticulture and enology techniques have changed—to visit new producers and, most importantly, to taste the wines and see the improvement in quality.

Marcelo Pelleriti, Bodegas Monteviejo (Mendoza, Argentina). I am very interested in visiting other wine regions, understanding winemakers, owners, their viticulture , learning how each link of a terroir works. I travel every year. My next visit will be to Burgundy , mother of elegance and wines with literary complexity. And then to Cahors, a region that must be respected because it gave us in Argentina our origins.

Anthony Hamilton Russell, Hamilton Russell Vineyards (Hermanus, South Africa). It is a big priority for me, both from a business point of view and a personal point of view. I find these visits enormously motivating. They remind one of all that is beautiful about wine in a way that visits to markets can’t match.

This year I will visit Burgundy (which I try to do each year), the Niagara Peninsula for the International Cool Climate Chardonnay Celebration, followed by Oregon for the Pinot Noir Celebration.

Olivier Humbrecht, Domaine Zind-Humbrecht (Alsace, France). I just visited McLaren Vale/Adelaide Hills in South Australia. Partly for family reasons but also, while there, I was curious to see how the place has changed since I saw it last time, about 20 years ago! Grape varieties, vineyard management, wine styles, evolution of new farming techniques (bio-dynamie developing strongly, for example) are all very informative. There is always something new to learn and understand while visiting another wine region, whether old and established or brand new.

No specific place though. Even though I am from a “cool” climate riesling area, that doesn’t mean that I will only go and see similar places. Seeing how organic farmers cope with huge grass competition in the McLaren Vale area, for example, is more informative than seeing it in Germany.

Jeremy Seysses, Domaine Dujac (Burgundy, France) and Domaine de Triennes (Provence, France). Visiting other regions was something that I did with avid enthusiasm when in my early 20s. I still do it enthusiastically, although I adopt a more leisurely pace and try to be a little bit more focused. It is something that has been important in my personal learning curve, helping me question certain practices I may have once taken for granted, and also expanding my growing and winemaking horizons.

Currently, my visits focus mostly on the regions that are geographically closest and where I have friends. Consequently, I visit the Rhône Valley, Piedmont, Alsace and the Mosel fairly regularly. I also spend some time for family reasons in Northern California, mostly in Napa Valley, where I visit wineries on occasion. My next trip will be to the northern Rhône, where I need to purchase some 2010s. It is my younger son’s birth year and I want him to have plenty to drink once he is old enough. Keep him away from hard liquor for a few years.

Nigel Greening, Felton Road Vineyard (Central Otago, New Zealand). We have always viewed it as an essential part of our development to regularly visit the key regions that grow our varieties. Last year we were in Oregon, and the previous year I spent a bit of time in California. This year we will be visiting Burgundy and maybe the Mosel (Baden may sneak in as well).

We have such an international team in our vineyard that there are several ex-Felton Road alumni in each region, so plenty of people to catch up with. Also we feel a very strong tie between Burgundy and Central Otago with a formal exchange of young workers between the two centres and continuous contact between friends.

This is very much a two way thing, with many Burgundians coming down to see us (similarly, but to a lesser extent, we see visitors from the US wineries). In the wine world there are the producers who are engaged with the larger wine world, who make that effort to be part of the greater picture and are rewarded by their peers and by their perspective for doing so. I have sometimes been struck by the correlation between those that don’t engage and those that drink their own wine. Perhaps that leads to another question: do you drink your own wine?

Bernard Hervet, Domaine Faiveley (Burgundy, France). Of course it’s more than necessary to travel outside Burgundy.  It’s a good way to be open-minded.  I not only visit but also work in other countries.  Mainly, everything is quite similar, if your target is to produce balanced wines.  My next trip will be to California in early March.

January 29th, 2013 | no comments

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