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Baron: red wine is made from the skins

The quality of the skins is the determining factor as to whether a red wine will be good or not according to the chief winemaker of Silver Oak in California.

Daniel Baron

Speaking to the drinks business during a lunch at Cut in London this week, Daniel Baron, director of winemaking at Silver Oak and Twomey Cellars said:

“We don’t make red wine from seeds or juice or pulp, we make it from the skins – that is the essence of quality in a red wine. The best way to assess the quality of the skins is to chew on them 15 times. If the skins are ripe, they will shred and dissolve on the tongue.”

Baron also spoke out about the supposed benefits of crop thinning, dubbing it “a myth in most cases”.

“Sure, the grapes ripen faster and have higher sugar levels if you crop them but they are larger and less concentrated. Very few winemakers know much about grape physiology,” he said.

During the lunch, Baron spoke passionately about his belief in cork as the best closure for wine. “We bottle all our wines under cork as oxygen is a huge part of the magic of how wine transforms. Cork is part of a wine’s fingerprint,” he said.

He also singled out the cooler 2010 vintage as working to the advantage of Californian winemakers who had done stints in Europe.

“It was a great year for winemakers who had experience of working in Europe. The wines have elegance, finesse and balance, it wasn’t a year for achieving rich ripe fruit,” he said.

Twomey Pinot Noir is part of Rajat Parr’s In Pursuit of Balance movement, which Baron believes is gaining momentum.

“It’s the saddest thing when young winemakers come to me and say they’d like to work for me because they want to make wines they like to drink. A lot of young winemakers’ bonus checks depend upon how many Parker points over 90 they get.

“Wine is the beverage of moderation and needs to be accompanied by food. I’m not looking for pruny, plummy, over-ripe characteristics in my wines.

“Before, those not going down the over-ripe route were lonely voices in the night. It’s great that we’re now unified – we’re like the misfit kids who wanted to play jazz in high school,” he told db.

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