Thursday, September 11, 2014

Becoming a Winemaker

Becoming a Winemaker

Two books, two very different approaches to becoming a winemaker. One celebrates love of a place, while the other celebrates the idea of a place, albeit at an emotional distance.

Ferenc Máté moved to Tuscany almost on a whim - it started in a rented farmhouse, segued into the creation of a family, then became a story of finding oneself in one's surroundings. Máté purchased a farmhouse, but, unfortunately, when the wine bug bit, there was no land and no hope for a vineyard. Searching high and low throughout Tuscany, Máté ended up purchasing one of the crown jewels of the Banfi Estate, Il Colombaio. Rebuilding the old friary, patching up terraces, planting olives and vines, becoming friends with Angelo Gaja, Máté immerses himself in his dream and the resulting wines reflection of place. This is a winemaking dream I can get behind - finding the perfect place and then making wines reflective of the terroir.

Ray Walker is removed from the romance of making wine. Living in California, he is bitten by the winemaking bug, but does not bother finding terroir or place there. His dream is to make wine from grapes in Burgundy. Where doesn't matter, the actual grapes don't matter, only the fact that he believes that the grapes of Burgundy are true reflections of their sites. He travels to France, making mistake after mistake in his search for grapes and a place to vinify them. Beyond belief, he not only finds grapes, but they are of the utmost quality from one of the finest vineyards, Chambertin. Walker approaches winemaking as a hands-off endeavor, with minimal intervention before they are fermented and poured into barrels. While the wines are successful, this is not my winemaking dream, where the wine is important, but where it is made is not important.

Two books, two very different approaches to becoming a winemaker. Both success stories, but one much closer to my heart. Awesome world that has a place for both approaches.

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