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10 mai 2005 2 10 /05 /mai /2005 23:00

Sur le forum du site de Robert Parker (Mark Squire's Bulletin Board, www.erobertparker.com), j'ai lu une réflexion très intéressante de Jeffrey M. Davis, concernant l'évolution des Vins de Garage. J'aimerais vous faire part de ce texte :

"As someone who launched or co-launched many of the garage wines of the Right Bank including 1992 Valandraud, 1994 Lusseau, 1995 La Gomerie, 1997 Gracia, 2001 Lucia, etc., I am pained by the apparent disdain these wines now seem to engender, particularly among English critics. And I fear that their criticism is increasingly being emulated by many in the States.

Doing the malolactic in barrel is only one minute contribution that has been made by the serious "garagistes". Their first and foremost efforts have been in their vineyards where they were among the first to institute such practices as desuckering, debudding, deleafing, and green harvesting. They were also among the first to dramatically lower their crop levels!

Techniques - not technology - in the vineyards were followed by a change in mentality in the garagistes' cellars: serious sorting of the fruit - harvested into small plastic lugs so as to avoid bruising and premature oxidation - became the rule in all of the garagistes' wineries. Sorting before and after destemming did as well. Pre-fermentation, cold macerations, cap punching and fermentation in smaller, often oak, tanks was also first seen in the cellars of the garagistes.

Minimal handling of the wine, use of gravity flow whereever possible, and yes, malo in new barrels, "sur lies" aging and bottling unfined and/or unfiltered also first saw the light of day in many of the garagistes' cellars.

The garage wines may be expensive (compared to what?) but one can certainly and more persuasively argue that the cost to produce them is FAR higher than it is in many of the much larger properties where these practices are not or have only recently come into partial use.

Clearly, the post-911 period, the war in Irak, and the damned Euro have all taken a heavy toll on consumers' ability and/or willingness to spend a lot on ANY wine, let alone garage wines. But I think we can only commend the garagistes for their own work and for the fact that they have shaken the very foundations of Bordeaux, forcing all serious but often much larger-scale growers to vastly improve the quality of their own wines over the last five to ten years. All of Bordeaux - and by extension, Bordeaux lovers - have benefitted by and from the garage wine movement.

Unfortunately, there are many reactionary winery owners and critics who would be only so content to go back (to exactly WHEN is never clear) when with a lot less effort expended in the vineyards and in the cellars, many châteaux were able to sell their wines with relative ease, especially when they bore the magic words, "grand cru classé" on their labels.

Finally, one must doff one's cap to Gérard Perse and his unending efforts to produce the best wines his different "terroirs" will allow him to. It is true that he has emulated many of the garagiste's techniques, albeit on a larger scale (his yields remain as low or lower than most of the garagistes, however). He has also made a couple of garage wines himself: first, there was the now disappeared La Clusière, and second, there is now Bellevue-Mondotte.

So, let us not be swayed by those who would relegate the garagistes to some mode gone out of fashion.

Rather, let's all hope for a much weaker Euro!"

Jeffrey M. Davies


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