Guardians of the wine galaxy
“The concept of winemaking and winemakers is idiocy. We are guardians; we observe, we watch, we make decisions and we let the wines guide us.”
This statement jumped out at me from Jeannie Cho Lee MW’s latest newsletter, quoting Burgundy grande dame Lalou Bize-Leroy, proprietor of Domaine Leroy.
Madame Bize, you are in a very privileged and lofty position to afford to hold that view. Your wines cost hundreds, sometimes thousands, of dollars a bottle. Down here in the real world, producing most of the wine that real people drink involves more human intervention than you pretend.
Your statement is marketing talk, shaped to appeal to current ideals about fine wine. It is fashionable to pretend that fine wine makes itself; that nature is really controlling the entire show. It sounds very wholesome and natural, but it’s fantasy. It ignores the fact that human involvement is crucial if grapes are to be transformed into drinkable wine.
Call them winemakers, vignerons, oenologists, chefs de cave, maîtres de chais or whatever you choose, but you should acknowledge that they exist, and they are important.