"I’ve had many particular moments with many wines. And I think the amazing thing is that some wines are able to provoke in you a kind of electricity, because you feel, 'Oh my god, this is fantastic.' You realize you opened the right bottle in the right moment.
My approach to wine changed completely when I was able to taste very old wines. It was 1993, and I was working with Domaine Jean-Louis Chave. Gérard [Chave, the owner] was telling me, 'Look, Telmo, what this is.' It was a 1930 Hermitage white. Gérard was trying to explain to me that winemaking was something we have to understand in relative terms. He said: 'My grandfather was not a trained winemaker yet was producing such amazing wines.'
Gérard had turned on the red light outside his cellar, which meant nobody could enter. There were just the two of us, and he was opening, for me, amazing bottles – maybe 10 from the ’20s, ’30s, ’40s, which was very generous.
He was showing me that in the end, Chave was a place, was a history, and he himself was not important. What was important was 400 years of ancestors, and people loving a place and making amazing wine. For me, that was great … to love what you do with a lot of simplicity. It’s magic, no?
In the end, winemakers, wine producers, we are not artists. We are repeating some gestures and we have to understand that it’s our ancestors who discovered everything. They discovered the places, they decided what to plant where, they discovered how to fine the wines, how to protect the wines, how to rack the wines…
When you respect this, you can’t think, 'Oh my god, I’m fantastic because I’m very clever.' If you do, I think that’s stupid."
As told to Wiremu Andrews
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