“We’ll make wine. Wine from grapes. Those little things on the vine… you can turn them into wine. It’s awesome!”
And so here we have it. The young lad from London Town arrives with his posh shirts, his RayBans and his Panama to muck in with the locals.
I am working at a domaine about five minutes drive from Auxerre, Cote de Bourgogne, which is near Chablis (near Beaune; it’s… Burgundy… in France for God’s sake). Domaine D’Edouard is run by a man aptly named Edouard. Perhaps it’s the other way round.
A Chardonnay, two Aligote’s, a Rose (made from Pinot Noir), a Gamay, a Pinot Noir and a Cremant (like Champagne but not from Champagne) and… breathe. That’s a tonne of different wines for a man who’s only had the estate for coming on 4 years.
He can do it. He is clearly driven, talented and has a great mixture of casual and professionalism. He will do well.
All the vines are organic and have been since long before he acquired what was a good but non-commercial affair. The guy before wasn’t as driven and perhaps didn’t have as much care for the wine: harvest wasn’t done by hand and sales were not a driving point.
They must be. You must sell the wine.
It has to be commercially applicable or else you’ll make no money and you’ll not move forward and you’ll stop. That’s simple. But there is a balance.
The majority: vineyards you see on British supermarket shelves, are made by capitalist money-stuffed suits who care about margin. They have people make the wine as cheaply as the circumstances allow and get as large a margin as they can. Satisfy the share-holders. It’s uniform shite. The few: they make the wine as well as they possibly can; nurture the grapes, take care of the harvest, study and continuously strive to change and improve. They care and then if they’re good vignerons (winemakers) they market it and doggedly stretch the country’s wine fairs to find distributors who take a chance on them and their plonk. This way they can, a few years down the line, get enough cash in to cover costs and continue doing what they adore (French word): making wine.
And so here I am contemplating my first day of picking. It’s Chardonnay tomorrow and I’ll be staying behind to watch, and hopefully help, those grapes being pressed and pumped into the tanks so the process “exceptionale” can begin. They’ll make wine. Wine from grapes. Those little things on the vine… you can turn them into wine. It’s awesome!