The Insider’s Guide to Bordeaux – Wine-Making: Richard Curty

This is an installment of our Insider’s Guide to Bordeaux.  It is a series of interviews of people who live in Bordeaux providing their thoughts and tips on the wines, the city, and the food.

This interview was with Mr. Richard Curty the Wine Director of Ch. Parenchere.  He is a graduated oenologist and the wine-maker at Ch. Parenchere. You can visit him on facebook.

We interviewed him about his thoughts on wine-making in Bordeaux.

1. Which young wine-maker (or wine-makers) in Bordeaux will we be hearing about a lot about over the next 10-15 years?

Beside me I don’t know ! 😉

No, honestly I don’t like highlighting someone as I am very well placed to know that the quality of a wine does not rely on just one person. I have been consultant for 15 years in various estates and I have never known if the wines of my customers were good because they were listening to me or on the opposite because they didn’t follow my directions!

2. What are your thoughts on the oak / no-oak debate for Bordeaux wines?

For me, a barrel is for sure is the best container to age a great wine.  Therefore, I think that small, light wines shouldn’t be placed in barrels but rather bottled quickly to drink it young and fruity.

For some wines aged in barrels, some abuse has been made because at a certain time it was a fashionable. Some have unfortunately developed wines that expressed more wood than grapes and it’s really unfortunate because a well-controlled wood aging reveals the wine. For our Cuvée Raphaël we use only 20 to 30% new wood every year. The rest is older barrels.

3. What are your thoughts on the worldwide influence of wine consultants from Bordeaux and the wines that they create?  Do you think there is an international style of wine emerging?

There are strong personalities in Bordeaux, now world-famous, who have indeed created styles of wines but have also allowed by their researches to find technical and oenological ways to express the best of each variety.  But yes fashion is for sure toward powerful fruity wines, with a little sweetness.

4. What changes in wine-making do you think we will see in Bordeaux in the next 10 years? What important trends, processes, etc. we should expect to see?

After the standardization trend, now the move is going to authenticity. Too many wine look alike in Bordeaux, but in the world in general. Now, the tendency is going to revealing the identity and personality of each Terroir.

It is not so much a question of techniques as wine-making techniques today are most of the time directed to correct a fault in the quality the grapes. It is more a focus of the work on the vineyard itself.

5. What influence do you think the organic, biodynamic, and natural wine movements will have on Bordeaux wines, if any?

Agricuture in general has made a big progress as the world discovered the abuses that were done in the 70’s and 80’s because of a total lack of information on the products used.  A consciousness has emerged. Now the rules of production are getting more and more strict and the legislation is forcing people which are not very aware to be much more cautious in what they use in their soils and how they run their estates.

Those organic/biodynamic/natural wines reflects this and more and more estates look in this direction now. Moreover, this is now viewed as a way to more identity/ authenticity – the trend we were describing before.

At Parenchère, we are in “Agriculture Raisonnée” (Sustainable). We have just received the Certification “ High Environmental Value” – Level 3 (the highest level). We are one of the first estates to receive this qualification as we believe that we have a responsability in our environment and what is good for the soils is good for the wine.

Thanks to Mr. Curty for his time and generous answers.  If there was a wine mentioned in this post that you want to try – be sure to contact me at cody@rooftopcellars.com and I will try and find it for you.