Accolade for Accad

The Guy Accad era in the '80s and very early '90s in Burgundy was very controversial, as was the man. Three of the noteworthy disciples were Jean Grivot, Comte Senard and the Chateau du Clos Vougeot (Labet). I visited all three in 1990, as I was very curious to learn about Accad and his disciples. I bought and have cellared some Grivot and Senard wines. (And, though Grivot has always been sort of defensive about that era/man, at a dinner in 2007 at Philippe Senard’s house, he told me that Accad got a terribly raw deal…that he still thought he guy was a genius in the vineyard, etc. etc.)

I’ve always been very surprised at how well the Grivot and Senard 1988s have turned out. Last night I had a Senard Corton “Clos du Roi” 1988. It was superb!! Finesse, harmonious, a delicious core of red fruits covering a complementing structure…and a long fruity finish. And, a beguiling, clean red-fruit nose. It improved with air (I slow-oxed it…which , to me, is doing almost nothing to aerate it; but, I could not monitor it. ) It was super this morning…as it evolved even more.

Bottom line on the Accad products…for me…they’ve turned out to be among the best of the 1988s I’ve had…above all, harmonius, elegant and concentrated wines…that reflect their terroirs. (The style, like any personable style: Jayer/Rouget, Laurent…etc…does certainly level off the vineyard differences a bit…but…not intrusively.)

Too bad for the guy…who was essentially driven out of the region…for what some suspect were xenophobic motivations…and others thought were presumptuousness…that he could translate his vineyard expertise into expertise in the cuveries…and…frankly…his ego was large.

But…though …I’ll make a final judgment whent he wines are 30+…and they will last fine…I’m convinced.

Anyone else?

We are the ellipses police newhere

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this is not a police state, though, warren…

do you have any thoughts/knowledge on Accad?

I think there continues to be a conversation about cold soaking: if/when to do it and for how long. Some people are rightfully, IMHO, wary of long cold soaks. Seems to me given Burgundy’s climate, that a moderate cold soak would happen naturally but not as long as Accad advocated. I do not know too much particular information but an extended cold soak would require some manipulation. I would think that you would accomplish this by cooling to a temperature that would inhibit fermentation or use sulphur. The later is the more worrisome element for me and I imagine used with less frequency. As you stated when a “personal style” occurs that terroir can be compromised. Following that logic, cold soaking for outside of the natural perimeters of climate could and does have some effect on the wine outside of the intended results hoped for by the oenologist, does it not? Does that ruin “purity,” I would think not necessarily.

Accad was also a very important influence on the vineyard work at Faiveley as well as on Dominique Laurent. I wonder where he is now?
I was always put off by the abominable wines of Pernin-Rossin, who Michel Bettane hailed as the new emperor, but I am perfectly willing to believe that this style simply requires very extensive ageing, it’s certainly true of the Grivots of the period.

As I said, Tom…I have been shocked by them. I remember Philippe Senard telling us in 1990 to give his '88 Clos du Roi 20 years of “sleep”. He was right…and the payoff worth it.

Accad, according to Senard, as of the late '00s, was still in the region apparently.

FWIW…almost all of the wines I admire are products of cold soak. The length and heavy use of sulphur was Accad’s input into that method.

I am not in the “no sulphur” camp but would point out that this addition does not occur as an antioxidant. Here is a quote from Joly about sulphur:

Important question; which sulphur?
1-sulphur as a derivative from the oil industry
2- -mineral sulphut from mines ( a long time ago from volcano )
3-- volcanic sulphur, a "recent " sulphur and therefore more active as basalt is a young earth, more active than old earth this is why it used sometime as a fertilizer.

Then how to use it ?
1- gas in a container ( it is issued from the oil industry under that form)
2–liquid solution ( it is also made with the sulphur from the oil industry
3-- from a burning sulfur as it was done in the past but is difficult to use as you need a racking to have it "taken in by the wine "

We will have in the coming 2 months a system done by P Gourdon where we burn sulfur in a small container and use a small hose to get it in the wine even if there is no racking. We will use epurated mineral sulphur or may be a volcanic one.
Presenting sulfur as a danger is a joke. There is a family of plant producing sulphur including garlic , onion , mustard etc …the question is (not whether to use sulfur or not) but which sulphur to use.

Accad was a believer in prefermentation maceration. He recommended the big whack of sulfur because most domaines lacked the refrigeration equipment back then.
He was also an early advocate of organic viticulture. He was just before his time and lacked the technology that is common now.

I tasted some of the Grivot " Accad " wines years ago and thought they were horrible . ( sorry , I don’t remember which ones , but had more than a few ) .
I think the issue with Accad was never his work in the vineyard . It was related to the manipulation of the wine in the cellars .
Overall , it’s too easy to say that all is bad or good . I’ve had some terrific Dominique Laurent wines ( or Denis Mortet ) next to undrinkable swell . We amateurs tend to judge a winemaker after 1 or 2 bad/great experiences ( see the discussions on Perrot Minot and le Moine , for example ) .

A 90 Grivot Echezeaux that I drank recently was very good indeed.

Your last couple of sentences contain the key to the first. There’s no doubt that the Grivots of this period were undrinkable swill fifteen years ago, but often undrinkable swill turns out just fine.

Herwig…good point. In 1990, I visited three of them to see what I thought. It was very unclear where these wines might have headed. But, I bought some…and early on, as you did, I found them bad. (Esp. the Grivot villages and Nuits-Boudots.) In fact, I visited Grivot , again, in either '99 or '2002 at Xmas time. Jean gave us tastes of some older wines…then…and many were Accad wines. I was really unimpressed with them, and Grivot was defensive about Accad’s role and when it ended. I wondered what he thought of the wines he was offering. (In fairness, the cellar was very cold that December; it’s hard to taste anything under those conditions.) So, I know what you mean.

But…I don’t think Accad did all that much more “manipulation” in the cellar than Henri Jayer did…though clearly for longer periods.

I retrospect, the Accad era was an aberration; a curiosity. Not much more. But, it interests me since I have tried, over the last 23 years, to evaluate it because I could. And, I don’t think Accad did anything to hurt the wines. In some cases, he did better than the winemakers were doing before he got there, too.

But…25 years after the vintage, I can say the Grivot vosne villages, Nuits-Boudots, Vosne-Suchots and Senard Clos du Roi are, IMO, unqualified successes and lovely to experience.

Yes , swill , not swell . I believe you ( regarding Henri Jayer : he picked relatively early , always destemmed , always chaptalized and used a relatively short maceration time in comparison with Accad ) .

Btw , this is what I found on the internet regarding Guy Accad . It’s in direct contradiction with your experience.

Guy Accad
The oenologist Guy Accad, so influential in the 1980’s, maintains one of the most controversial approaches to making Burgundian Pinot Noir. His philosophy consists of:

densely spaced vineyards
encouraged later picking
destemming in proportion to stem ripeness (usually 50-75%)
employment of an extended pre-fermentation cold maceration (up to 10 days and usually over 7, at 5-10°C (41-50°F))
sulphuring at the output of the crusher (rather than the vat of crushed grapes)
fermenting slow at cool temperatures for (usually) around 25 days

This philosophy tends to produce dark wines with abundant fruit. Opponents of this philosophy argue that the approach leads to wines which do not age well. They believe that the techniques negate the expression of terroir and that the wines are un-Burgundian, often being likened more to the wines of Côte Rôtie.

Yes that worries me! All these new star producers who now command stratospheric prices and who have been only a few years in the Business or have recently changed the style: Comte Ligier Belair, Cecile Tremblay, new Faiveley (not stratospheric but sharp increase in 2012)… great young wines…what about ageing? If Accad can go from bad to super, can other wines go from excellent to not so great… with age?

Not sure what this in “direct contradiction” to my experience?? or where you got this…People certainly believed that the wines would not turn out well…and they didn’t like the guy (from Algeria) “meddling” into the Burgundian traditions. But…it was always “age” that would be the test with his wines…they were monsters early on…due to long ferments…sulphuring, etc…But…many people, even at the time, said that he was just trying to replicate the methods of the Burgundies made in “old” times…whenever they were. Cropping was high…ferments slow due to natural temps in the cuveries…destemming…like at Rousseau and other good places done according to ripeness not rigid formula…

Like I said…I’m pleasantly surprised. But…I knew no judgments were possible early on in their maturations.That was clear from the outset…from critics and fans…and those winemakers…who didn’t even think he was that controversial.

And, of course, the Cote Rotie…thing was what his critics used when he was around. (And, personally, I’ve never been a fan of Cote Rotie, though I love Hermitage; the wines I’ve tasted aren’t at all like Cote Rotie, though.)

Stuart , the contradiction is that " they " say the Accad wines would not age well , while you suggest they do . ( they= anonimous on the internet )
I’m also not a fan of Cote Rotie ( Syrah ) but la Landonne from Guigal is stunning and one of the best wines in the world , I think .

Thanks, Herwig…

I am interested in any thoughts on the wines as they have “matured”. Many people had opinions while they were young…what they would turn into. But, they were just predictions. I would love to see others’ experiences with mature Accad wines.

I agree as I have had several good experiences with Dominique Laurent, particularly in more recent vintages where new oak may or may not be a big piece of the puzzle anymore. I think the Perrot-Minot wines, these days, have a much lighter touch as well…though the pricing makes Lucien Le Moine look like a true bargain.

I am no Burgundy expert, but I have enjoyed Californian Green Valley emulations of the region’s winemaking practices.

In the 2001 April issue of Wine and Spirits magazine, Rod Smith writes, "Munksgard’s Thomas Road program follows much the same logic as the controversial methods introduced a decade ago by Burgundy producer Guy Accad. But Munksgard goes several steps further. Like Accad, he cold-soaks the must prior to fermentation to gently extract brilliant color, subtle tannins, and radiant fruit without the harshness of a post-fermentation alcohol extraction. But he also mixes dry ice into the soup, not just for the chilling effect but also because the release of carbon dioxide retards wild yeasts and obviate the need for heavy sulfuring to prevent premature fermentation. "

The process also utilizes gentle pump-overs, and finishes fermentation in French oak barrels. Also, he keeps the wine on its lees and stirs regularly.

Is this all in the spirit of Burgundian winemaking, or are these methods more Californian? I am fascinated by the cool flavor extraction process, but don’t know squat about Burgundy winemaking.

I had the 1990 Grivot Boudot at Berns last year and it was not good.