Understanding Oak, Wine Barrel Maker Visits India
Winemaking is not just technique: it's an art. The multiplicity of elements that go into making a good wine must be understood, felt and tasted, not merely listed, says Ruma Singh. For wine aficionados, there is no better way to understand the complexities of fine wines than to taste the wine, perfectly paired with food. The complexity of oak is another subject altogether and one that requires an even greater understanding and appreciation according to Francois Witesse, president and director general of Tonnellerie Demptos who was recently in India. Pictured: Rajiv Singhal, Priyanka Dhar, Francois Witasse, Virender & Sheeba Razdan at the Demptos dinner
One of the best-regarded makers of barrels in the world, Witesse hosted a dinner with Virender Razdan, general manager, ITC Windsor, for 60 select guests among wine lovers and the wine trade.
At the dinner, Witesse presented a selection of fine wines to demonstrate just how powerful a role oak can play in creating good wine. Under a starlit Bangalore sky, he I ntroducing technical elements like oak to wine lovers can be tricky, he explained. Which is why he ensured that his discussion on each wine, between courses, was not too technical. He explained the importance of the role of oak, in the form of barrels, chips, staves etc, for wines from different countries, made by different winemaking techniques. From the smooth suppleness in an Argentinean Chardonnay (Terrazas 2010 from Mendoza) to the mellow smoothness imparted to a Bordeaux Saint Emilion blend (Château Beau-Séjour Bécot 2008), each wine demonstrated his points perfectly.
The sit-down dinner spanned five courses, each beautifully plated, and served hot to the guests. Courses included such classics as New Zealand lamb chops grilled in Chimichurri marinade (served with the Saint Emilion), and unusual pairings like Wild Mushroom and pearl barley broth with Clos Floridene 2009, grand vin de Graves. Pictured: Display of wines at the Demptos dinner at the ITC Windsor, Bangalore
The Tonnellerie Demptos team believes in preserving age-old traditions while successfully integrating modern technology to suit the needs of the ever-evolving wine industry. The company offers a wide range of products to winemakers - oak barrels, oak chips, staves, powders and others to help winemakers incorporate the oak element while considering the preferred winemaking style. With a two-century old tradition, and a list of clients which include the biggest and best in the world (Domaine Romanee Conti, the entire range of Bordeaux First Growth châteaux, Demptos has started increasing its international presence, and now has a presence in Spain, China, South Africa and USA. Now looking towards making an impact on India's growing wine industry, Francois Witesse is keen on meeting winemakers, winery owners and other influential people, besides visiting wineries in Maharashtra and Karnataka to observe their winemaking techniques.
Personally, he is very interested in learning more about India and its wine history, and hopes to make this the first of many visits.