French Winemakers Speak Out
Garbay and Guigal outline their thoughts on cork as part of a series of more than a dozen video interviews produced by Planete Liege, which is part of an international industry campaign promoting the use of natural cork wine stoppers and the preservation of cork forests.
Garbay is cellar master at Château d’Yquem, which traces its history back over four centuries and is the most famous chateau of the appellation of Sauternes in Bordeaux.
“Clearly for a top quality wine such as Yquem, the closure is of the utmost importance. The image of our grand crus is very important and it remains closely linked to the continued use of cork stoppers,” she said.
“We always use, as a priority, cork stoppers for our wines.”
In July a bottle of 1811 Château d’Yquem became the world’s most valuable bottle of white wine when it sold at auction in the UK for a record price of £75,000 (88 000 EUR).
Garbay said nature, tradition and preservation were three key factors behind the use of cork closures at Château d’Yquem. “For us, cork is the best closure to ensure the excellent ageing of our wines,” she said.
E. Guigal is a family-owned company founded in 1946 that produces wines from several different appellations in the Rhône Valley. It has an annual production of six million bottles and is particularly noted for its Côte-Rôtie wines. E. Guigal’s single vineyard Côte-Rôties have received more 100 point ratings by renowned wine critic Robert Parker than any other single wine producer.
“As a closure we use cork stoppers exclusively. We still prefer this very proven method,” said general manager and winemaker Philippe Guigal.
Guigal said the natural aspect of cork was important as was the tradition, quality and reliability of cork as a wine closure.
An interview with Bernard Noblet, cellarmaster at legendary Burgundy estate Domaine de la Romanée-Conti, is part of the Planete Liege series.
“The cork is very important to us,” said Noblet. “We don’t pinch pennies when it comes to corks. We’re concerned with quality, not price. For us, a long cork stopper is synonymous with longevity and quality.”
“We make wines as naturally as possible, so it’s a good idea to use a natural product, like our grapes, a product that comes from a forest, a tree, from the land (to seal our wines),” he said.
French wine magnate Bernard Magrez is also featured in the series. Magrez owns several prominent Bordeaux wine estates, including Château Pape Clément and Château La Tour Carnet, as well as wineries in other regions of France and in Spain, Chile, Argentina and the United States.
Among the French winemakers and winery owners featured in the Planete Liege interview series are FrançoisTissot (Château Paradis), Hélène Garcin-Lévêque (Vineyards Garcin), Valérie Rousselle (Château Roubine), Alain-Dominique Perrin (Chateau Lagrézette), Johan Micoud (Château La Connivence) and Agnès Millet-Jugnet (Domaine Millet-Jugnet).
Thierry Gasco of the famous champagne house Vranken Pommery also makes an appearance as does Bruno Paillard from Champagne Bruno Paillard.
The Planete Liege interviews are in French and can be viewed at www.planeteliege.com. Several of the interviews have English subtitles.