Sunday, December 9, 2012

Our Interview with Andrew Jefford

Andrew Jefford, the renowned British wine writer, recently wrote an interesting and somewhat controversial piece on screwcaps as a closure for wine. Below is a link to that article

Interested and intrigued by Jefford’s views on screwcaps, as well as being keen to talk more broadly about wine with the man, the RedtoBrown team flew over to France to interview him at his abode in Languedoc.

Upon arrival we were warmly greeted by Jefford, and the conversation soon flowed over a glass of local wine and across many a wine subject, including his views on the evolution of terroir driven wines in Australia. Having talked for half an hour, we came to one of our key questions -

R2B: And Andrew now to question that everyone wants to know, what was the main point you wanted to make comparing screwcaps and corks and framing it in terms of the “total wine experience”?

Jefford: Well, first and foremost I wanted to argue against the view of many, particularly in your country Australia, that screwcaps are the superior closure and that is the end of the story. I think it’s more complicated than that, and indeed I think that cork, both in terms of what it says about a winemaker, as well as the variation that corks brings to the way a wine tastes, provides a greater and more engaged wine experience

R2B: But . . .

Jefford: Take this bottle of white burgundy here . . . a Corton Charlemagne from Bonneau du Matray. Look at that distinct yellow closure . . . so much more appealing than the uniformity of bottles under screwcap. And then! The excitement now as we open this grand cru burgundy . . . would you like a glass?

R2B: Very kind of you (thinking to ourselves hell yeah!)

                            (Look at me. I'm so much sexier than a screwcap)

Jefford: What’s this wine going to taste like? Every wine is always different, and with each day a wine evolves, but with cork the possibilities and variation are even more endless.

(Jefford then pops the cork)

And that beautiful sound of pulling the cork . . . aghhh . . . I’ve got a semi already

R2B: What?

Jefford: Nothing, nothing. Here you go. What do you think?

We collectively stick our noses into our glasses of Corton Charlemagne and our hearts sink . . . it appears to be corked. The palate only confirms the nose. Looking beyond this, the quality of the wine is undoubted, but ultimately it’s not something that can be enjoyed with that level of taint.

We politely broach the possibility with Jefford that the wine is corked . . .

Jefford: yes, sadly it is. But that’s ok. This wine has had a unique life, and we must celebrate what it has become. Like all god’s children.

R2B: But what’s to celebrate when a $150 wine is not drinkable?

Jefford: The total wine experience

R2B: The total wine experience?

Jefford: Why yes! From beginning to end. There’s the excitement when I received the sample. The mulling over when I should drink it, and whether I should taste it in amongst the other Corton Charlemagne samples I had received, or perhaps in a line up of Grand Cru samples I had received across all appellations. And then just now, the surprise and excitement I gave both myself and you when I decided to spontaneously open it!

R2B: Ok . . . and is that it? Does the total wine experience end when you pour your corked grand cru burgundy down the sink?

Jefford: No no no! There’s so much more!

R2B: Really? How so?

At this point Jefford jumped out of his seat and started doing a vinous interpretive dance . . . think bud burst as interpreted by Peter Garrett. This confusing performance continued for a little while before we were taken aback when he suddenly took off his shirt and started pouring the Corton Charlemagne over himself

Jefford: Come join me boys! The total wine experience. Oh yeah!

We started backing out of the room. We weren’t sure where this total wine experience was going, and the crazed look in Jefford’s eyes didn’t encourage us to stay around to find out

Jefford: Don’t you see! Don’t you see! Watch where the cork goes . . .

R2B: Let’s bail

Jefford: You Australian screwcap zealots! You’ll never know the total wine expeeeeeeeeriennnnce!!!!!!

Our last sight of Jefford as we hightailed it out of there was of him on his knees before a map of the vineyards of burgundy pouring the last of the Bonneau du Matray over himself . . .

1 comment:

Philby said...

Beautiful piece of writing from start to finish. Flawless! Thanks.

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