High profile wine consultants are like “plastic surgeons” trying to make ugly wines beautiful, according to one French producer.
Speaking to the drinks business during a visit to the Loire
Valley last week, Thierry Germain, owner of Domaines des Roches in
Saumur, said: “France has lost the identity of its vineyards and
terroirs because of the big name consultants. Modern winemaking is
killing the ancestral tradition.
“Their approach is moving away from rural traditions and towards
technology. They don’t pay attention to the vineyards or the people
working in them and end up stealing the limelight from the
viticulturists, who are the real protagonists.
“Wine consultants are like plastic surgeons trying to make ugly wines
beautiful. There’s a trend at the moment for trying to create beautiful
wines over authentic wines. The result is that they end up tasting fake
“The Bordelais are guilty of burning their wines with too high
alcohol levels. The nature of Cabernet Franc on the Right Bank and
Cabernet Sauvignon on the Left has changed in Bordeaux,” he told db.
“Winemakers are exposing their berries to too much sun and as a
result, the wines being made are over-ripe and like body builders in
“I was born in Bordeaux and tried working there – I worked at Figeac for a while but I hated it,” he added.
Germain believes the answer to the current problem in the wine world
lies in going back to making simpler wines that express where they come
“Certain pockets of the industry are holding consumers back from
enjoying the lighter, fresher wines they are seeking. Consumers are
ready for more balanced wines and as a region, the Loire holds the key
to fulfilling this new consumer need as they offer balance, food
friendliness and freshness,” he said.
Germain is currently experimenting with an extended skin contact
“orange” wine called Terre made without sulphites or filtering and
matured for nine months in an amphora half buried in his cellar.
“I decided to mature it for that long as that is the length of time
it takes to make a baby. In this case the wine is the child and the
amphora is the womb. I called it Terre in honour of Mother Nature,”
Germain told db.
Another project is “Solera”, a wine made with Chenin Blanc blended from 1998,1999 and 2000 topped up with 2003.
Only a very limited number of bottles will go on sale at select restaurants such as Noma in Copenhagen.
“I’m fascinated with the energy that being biodynamic brings to the
wines,” he said. Germain is due to start working with horses in place of
tractors this harvest. His wines are imported into the UK by Les Caves