Friday, March 25, 2011

Wine Study- "Sauvignon Blanc"

"The Wildman of Pouilly" Didier Dagueneau, 1956-2008

Nothing as refreshing!
- Jancis Robinson

We continue a series of sessions with the Francesca's at Sunset and Brannon's Cafe teams we are calling "Wine Study."  We are meeting every other Saturday for the purpose of expanding our knowledge and experience with wine.  Our guide is Jancis Robinson's Wine Course DVD, an excellent resource!  Aired in the United Kingdom in 1995 and is fascinating to see both areas where the wine industry has not changed and areas where it has changed dramatically!

Episode 4- Sauvignon Blanc continues the juxtaposition Jancis showed us in episode 2 and 3; New World vs Old World. AND the commonality of the monumental struggle to overcome the unique challenges each region and each producer has as Jancis shows us in Episode 3- Cabernet Sauvignon. In this episode the layer of the owner/winemaker's personality is added in dramatic fashion; beginning in New Zealand where John Stichbury’s Vineyard is being threatened by frost so he calls in a helicopter to fly over vineyards and push warm air down on vines. As we learn more about this vineyard and winery we also see that this man is quite a character, very dynamic and bold. Mrs. Robinson goes on to introduce us tDavid Hoehnen who recounts how he started the Cloudy Bay winery in 1985 from nothing to being one of the most prized and recognized wines in the world.  I do not know of a more bold and dramatic happening in the world of wine in our lifetime. Mrs. Robinson then wisks us, the viewers, away to France's Loire Valley where she introduces us to "The Wildman of Pouilly," Didier Dagueneau, a loner, a fighter, adventurer who was dis-owned by his Father.  His philosophy about wine is very well thought out and expressed; “I make wine to give people pleasure.  I sell happiness.  It’s a good job to be in.  I want wine to be a good moment in people’s lives.  It’s like good food, beautiful music; it is like a beautiful painting.  I think that wine should be considered as art, in the same way as painting or music.”  Amen, Monsieur Dagueneau!!!

Continuing the bold and fresh personality tour, Jancis introduces us to a flying wine maker; Jacques Lurton.  He is the son of established Sauvignon maker Andre Lurton of Chateau Bonnet, Bordeaux, France.  Jancis explains how Jacques became the successful globe trotting wine maker he is because he did not or could not stay in Bordeaux and become competition for his Father.  In his interview Jacques then explains how he works by coming into the client's winery and completely taking over, a very bold and audacious practice.

In this episode focused on the Sauvignon Blanc grape; we should not be surprised that the people who make the best examples are themselves bold and dynamic, like the grape variety. The grape gets its name from the French word "sauvage" (wild) and "blanc" (white) due to its characteristics in the vineyards and in the glass!  So, is it art imitating life or is it life imitating art?  Through the lives of these winemakers we can see a glimpse of how profound, magical and mysterious nature of wine!

If you will read this handout which has a few notes from the video and a lot of information and links to more on the web related to the topics Jancis covers, hopefully it adds to the subjects and fills you in on where the personalities from the video are today.  As exciting and dynamic as this episode is, the intervening years have been even more so for everyone involved.  It is my sincere hope that you are finding this blog informative and instructional

To check your learning experience and highlight the most important information here is the quiz.  And the quiz with answers.  And please reply to this blog; is Sauvignon Blanc your  favorite wine?

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