Freitag, 13. Februar 2009

The paradox of wine

This week I read an article in „DiePresse.com“ (Im Keller: Riesling Zöbinger Heiligenstein 2007 « DiePresse.com). It made me think about a few things concerning the wine business. I thought about journalism, winemaking, Emile Peynaud and the question „Why do we need Wine Marketing?“


Examples are very good things and I would like to use an example to explain my thoughts.


E.g.

Thesis

A winemaker makes serious changes in his vineyard management system and cellar work. As result his wines do not ferment until dry - of course the wine shows a lower alcohol level but with a residual sugar level above 12 g/l. Wine does not need any interference by man. Wine creates itself. 


Antithesis: (from „The taste of wine“ by Prof. Emile Peynaud 1996, p289ff)

There are several kinds of quality. I would like to refer to the innate quality - which corresponds to natural factors and acquired quality - provided by the intervention of man. Prof. Peynaud points out that nothing is completely innate in a processed product of agricultural origin. Natural condition are only potentially, in effect everything has to be acquired, discovered or invented.

Without choosing the location, constant work in the vineyards, without drainage and improvements there would be no good soils for wine and no production of quality grapes. It is man who has chosen the grape variety and for the wine itself, it is a direct product of man´s labor. The quality of the wine depends on the choice of a method of vinification and how it is carried out.

Essentially, quality only exists if it is desired, sought after, patiently waited for; it is not a free gift. Prof. Peynaud cannot agree with the view that „one accepts human intervention (in vinification), as long as it allows the natural charateristics to remain intact,“ since it is precisely human intervention which has created and highlighted this so-called natural charateristics! 

Baron Le Roy: „Quality can be endlessly improved because it is essentially the work of man.“

BUT: Preventive enology is always better than curative enology as emphasized in the phrase: "Vinify in such a way that the wine will have to undergo no treatments other than clarification."


This paradox leads directly to our initial question. „Why do we need Wine Marketing?“


Solution:

What can our winemaker - sorry, he does not want to be called a winemaker - wine attentand do?? As many people do not know very much about wine it is the task of the producer (beside some other institutions) to train the consumer. Consumers demanding higher qualities in wines are creating higher quality wines!

But the wine attendant, together with our journalist, creates an article which falsely informs the consumers. Wine does not need the interference of man. High residual sugar levels are due to this year circumstances. Nature did not want to create a dry wine! But if the consumers do not have profund knowlegde about vineyard management, vinification, tasting expertise ... they are not going to demand higher quality wines which is in fact quite good in our example as it would lead to decreasing sales. 


Last but not least two of my favorite statements of Prof. Emile Peynaud:

„Quality exists only in relation to the individual judge and then only in as far as he has the ability to perceive it and approve it.“


„The quality of wine has no existence on its own since it is dependent on the quality of the consumer. Everyone drinks the wine he of she deserves.“



Literature: 

The taste of wine: The Art and Science of Wine Appreciation - Emile Peynaud - 1996 - ISBN-13:978-0471113768

Kommentare:

  1. I believe nature did not want to make wine anyway. Without human beings our vines would climb up a tree somewhere in Asia.

    I fully agree with Prof. Peynaud: "Nothing is completely innate in a processed product of agricultural origin. Natural condition are only potentially, in effect everything has to be acquired, discovered or invented."

    As a result my thesis are:

    1) The winemaker is not able to restart fermentation at 12%vol Alc. and more than 10 grams of sugar. That would be really embarrassing for the winemaker.

    2) The winemaker is not interested in curative treatments on his with "spontaneous yeast" fermented wines. In addition he believes with his keen marketing he can sell the wine anyway. No matter what happens.

    Prof. Peynaud: "The quality of wine has no existence on its own since it is dependent on the quality of the consumer. Everyone drinks the wine he of she deserves."

    Is that the embarrassing truth? Is the consumer so easy to trick?

    What is your opinion?

    Regards Bernhard !

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  2. Of course wine has to made by someone. But in which way?

    I think everyone is free to do it his way. Maybe one prefers to make a more independent wine (even if it is off-dry) and an other wants to make the same (style of) wine every year.

    However I think alcohol and sugar level are not the most important marks of quality.

    So my question have you already tasted this wine? And what do you think about it?

    I have tasted the 2006 GV Lamm (halbtrocken) just a few weeks ago.
    A very good and definitely well made wine. Although I do not like off-dry wines.

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  3. Hey Rudi,

    Bernhard K. and I had all his wines during the Mondo Vino tasting and we were not impressed at all.

    I always liked his style of winemaking but since he has change to biodynamics in the vineyards and this no interference policy in the cellar the style of wine has changed a bit. (for me not in a positive way!)

    Franz

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  4. So you didn't like the style of wine, but the wine itself was clean and free of defaults?

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  5. Yes they were clean but all wines showed the same somewhat dull notes.
    We compared them directly with the wines of Bernhard Ott. Just 2 years ago I preferred the wines from Hannes but this has changed significantly.
    Franz

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