You are currently viewing the International Edition. You can also switch to the Hong Kong Edition.
Wednesday 1 July 2015

Wine consultants are ‘plastic surgeons’

17th June, 2014 by Lucy Shaw

High profile wine consultants are like “plastic surgeons” trying to make ugly wines beautiful, according to one French producer.

Thierry Germain has compared high profile wine consultants to plastic surgeons

Thierry Germain has compared high profile wine consultants to plastic surgeons

Speaking to the drinks business during a visit to the Loire Valley last week, Thierry Germain, owner of Domaines des Roches Neuves 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 and artificial.”

Germain’s zero dosage sparkling wine made from 100% Chenin Blanc

Germain, whose 28 hectare Saumur estate has been biodynamic since 2000, believes Bordeaux in particular, is guilty of making overcooked wines to please certain critics.

“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 their nature.

“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 from.

“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 de Pyrène.

4 Responses to “Wine consultants are ‘plastic surgeons’”

  1. Keith Reeves says:

    Whatever happened to ” good wine is made in the winery, great wine is made in the vineyard”?

  2. Olivier says:

    Once again, Bordeaux bashing is too easy.If i want to make it general I could also say if you taste his wine and find it too acid, green, he will call it freshness, if you find the nose too animal or earthy he will tell you that it is lively, if you find it unbalanced is because of the moon cycle or of the thermic difference between his cellar and the glass. No one is wrong or right, and criticize his neighbor will not increase his own market share, unfortunately

  3. Mark says:

    Mother nature when left to her own devices has always preferred stinky mediocre wines with rare exception. Allowing full body wines to express their potential is what consumers pay more for. Meanwhile, creating a light, easy, food friendly wine ala vin d-ordinaire has always been plentiful. There is room for all. The market has many preferences.

    As soon as consumer demand changes the wine will shift in that direction. Blaming change on the industry is getting it backwards. Supply follows demand not the other way around.

    Someday people may want orange colored wine that was grown wild and made in clay pots buried in the mud for 9 months. Meanwhile, that sounds a bit like a cult, not a return to sensibility.

  4. Tom Payette says:

    Plastic surgeons must work with the beauty that is already existing and to enhance that. Consultants would prefer to work with well made base wines but a good consultant can pull a trick or two !!

    Tom Payette
    Winemaking Consultant

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>

If that's interesting, how about these?

Castel feeds aperitif thirst

Europe’s largest wine producer, Castel, has unveiled a raft of new products more...

Bordeaux 2005: Biggest movers

Expectation surrounding the 2005s is building and pushing up prices for top more...

Depp puts French estate on sale for £16.5m

Hollywood actor Johnny Depp has put his estate in the south of France, which more...

E-commerce, Sales & Marketing Executive

London, United Kingdom

Competitive salary and bonus package based on experience and qualification.

Rise for Haut Bailly in Liv-ex 2015 classification

Liv-ex’s bi-annual “re-classification” of Bordeaux saw Haut Bailly leap more...

Hart Davis Hart biggest in US

Chicago-based wine auctioneer Hart Davis Hart is the market leader in the US in more...

Vinadeis unveils Languedoc 'black diamonds'

One of France’s largest wine producers has launched a high-end Languedoc more...

UK Sales Manager

London, United Kingdom

Wine thieves go on trial

A gang of wine thieves accused of stealing a million euros worth of wine from more...

Vinexpo: five days 'too much' says organiser

Vinexpo doesn’t need to run for the full five days because no visitor stays more...

How to become a 'wine expert' in four hours

A doctor of psychology has devised 10 simple steps which he claims can set you more...

Business Development Executive

London, United Kingdom

£25-£30K + benefits, depending on experience

Top 10 architectural wonders of the wine world

You don't have to look far to find stunning examples of architectural prowess more...

Parker retrospective boosts 05 Palmer

Château Palmer’s 2005 is the latest wine from that vintage to see an more...

Beaujolais pushes for sparkling AOC

Beaujolais is trying to gain AOC status for its sparkling wines which, with it more...

Hatch Mansfield – Brand Manager

London, United Kingdom

Competitive salary

China recognises 'Bordeaux'

China has said it now recognises the term “Bordeaux” as a brand after what more...

Bordeaux wine thieves found guilty

A French court has sentenced 15 men over the audacious theft of $1.1 million of more...

Shock over wine named 'dung' in German

A row has broken out over a decision by St Tropez's wine co-operative to name more...

Digital and Communications Executive

£22,000-£26,000 dependent on experience

The Tour de l'Oc in pictures

A pictorial report of the highs and lows of the Tour de l'Oc cycling challenge more...

Top 10 wine brands 2015

In a year that saw major shifts in the global wine market, the drinks business more...

En primeur: beware the heralded vintage?

From an investment point of view it is best to buy the “vintages of the more...

Global Wine Buyer

London, United Kingdom


Bordeaux 2005: 12 ‘perfect’ wines

Twelve wines have been given “perfect” 100-point ratings in Robert more...

BI offers 2014 imperial collection en primeur

Fine wine merchant Bordeaux Index is offering its clients a 10 imperial more...