Selecting specific casks

Hi Terry,

How do you and your growers decide which specific casks of each wine will be blended, bottled, and imported to the US? Do you typically have free reign to cherry-pick only the foudres you love and that you think will make the best, most sell-able whole… “Helmut, I’ll take #1, #7, #14, and #15 please”… with the others going to different markets with different AP numbers (or being declassified)?

It’s very clear from your writing that long-term relationships are exceedingly important… so I imagine you can’t cherry-pick the best stuff too aggressively, which would leave the grower in a tough position… but on the other hand, you do need some degree of control over the product you bring to market.

Does the process tend to be collegial… or combative?


It tends to be collegial, in large part because I have winnowed out the growers with whom it might have been otherwise. I try to work with reasonable people who make consistent wines.

But there’s always cherry picking, and it isn’t always easy. I recall a Kabinett that had a subtle but strangely coarse aspect, and I asked how many components the wine had. It came, as it turned out, from seven different fuders, and had been blended the day before.

So we went into the cellar and tasted each fuder until I arrived at the offending one. Oh yes, there was a dud. “Can I get the wine without this cask in it?”

“Well sure, of course, but then what am I supposed to do with this one?”

“Not my problem. Sell it in bulk. It does no one any good to have it in a bottle with your name (and mine) on the label.”

Now such stories are very much the exception, but they happen now and again.