I have long held a belief that for every batch of fruit that arrives at the winery door there is a perfect way to make it, but the million dollar question is of course just what is the perfect way? I guess the more that a winemaker has seen, tasted, smelled and thought about then the more likely it is that they will know what to pull out of their armoury when a given batch of fruit knocks at the winery door. Perhaps the perfect way will never be found and will always remain a quixotic quest but with every attempt we must hope to at least get closer.
I have been incredibly lucky in my wine travels to have worked for a variety of philosophical rebels who have all shared one thing in common and that was to express their piece of land in their own way.
From Alessandro Dettori in Sardinia making powerhouse Cannonau; the great Bruno Di Conciliis in Campania who introduced me to skin fermentation of white varieties as well as the wines of Stanko Radikon and Josko Gravner. There has been learning of a different kind from Ernie Loosen in the Mosel and Saverio Petrilli in Tuscany through to Bertrand Ambroise making his own style of structured and extractive Nuits St George. All of these champs have taught me that if it is not your own way then it must certainly be somebody else’s way, so why follow?
With all this in mind it is easy to see why a winemaker must contemplate, express and experiment each year to see just what aromas and textures lie within the grape waiting to be discovered, waiting to be expressed and waiting to be championed. If you don’t look you don’t find.
It is not enough to experiment in a small scale way and then blend it back into the mainstream. That is only a fraction of the experiment. You have to see it all the way through…you have to give life and freedom to the trial…you must be brave enough to commit it to bottle.
This series of wines under the ‘Poets and Writers’ banner is the explorative side of winemaking. It is very much driven by the modus operandii of “…but what if?”
“…but what if you don’t do any punch downs or pump overs?”
“…but what if you don’t take it off lees?”
“…but what if you don’t do anything at all?”
Already we have learnt a great deal in the short time we have set off in other directions.
This is only the very start!
Michael Glover, Winemaker