COLUMN WRITTEN BY PHILLIP SILVERSTONE
Over the years, I’ve have the privilege of interviewing some of the most important personalities in the wine and spirits world. Today, I share some “sound bites” from my chats, which show how much pride these people have in their work and their pedigree.
When I met Bernard Hine, the cellar master and traveling ambassador for his family’s cognac firm, Cognac Hine, I commented on his obvious pride in his work. He beamed and said: “When I open a bottle, I open the ‘job’ I made a few years before. And that’s a great responsibility because it bears my name and it is the work I have been doing. So if I were not sure of the quality of the product, I would certainly be very afraid of appearing in front of you with this product. But I don’t have this problem, on the contrary, I am very proud to let you see what we can do in Cognac.”
I was captivated by Caroline Krug, of the prestigious champagne house, Champagne Krug of Reims, Champagne. I asked if she believed people buy Krug because of the taste or because of the name on the label? Caroline’s response: “I do think that the majority of Krug lovers are people who know what they like in terms of wine, of culture and travel, and they don’t care about the name, they love the taste. And for us, the taste is an obsession, and people fall in love with this taste or they don’t.”
Michel Picard’s father started his business in 1951 and Michel took the helm when he was sixteen. Picard Pere et Fils, is the second largest wine producer in Burgundy. I asked Michel what springs to mind when I mention Burgundy. He replied: “The first image to me of Burgundy, is the welcoming of the people. Very friendly people. Then I think of the vineyards, perhaps with a stray goat, which is very nice to see. And the food waiting on the table after you have walked the vineyards for a long time and you start to get hungry. We have marvelous cuisine in Burgundy. But my first thought is the friendliness of the Burgundian people.”
Ed Sbragia is now a consultant at Beringer Vineyards in St. Helena, Calif., having started his own winery, Sbragia Family Vineyards, with his wife in 2006. I met him when he was the winemaker at Beringer. He started at the winery assisting its legendary winemaker Myron Nightingale and then took the helm in 1984 when Nightingale retired. I asked Ed whether he received much correspondence from consumers. His response: “Consumers write letters either saying they love us or don’t love us. I like that. I enjoy the reaction of the consumer to the wines, it’s why I like traveling around and talking about wine and doing consumer dinners. I don’t only hear what they say but see what they drink and which wine glass gets empty first. And, obviously I make the wines like I want to make the wines because I think that’s right, but all those things in the back of my mind I’ve learned from the consumers on my travels color the way I think as I’m making those multitude of decisions during the process of making wine.”
No wonder I’ve enjoyed the wine world so much. Cheers!
Phillip Silverstone’s column appears each week in this publication. “Time Out With Phillip Silverstone” is a weekly two-hour podcast heard exclusively on TuneIn radio anytime and anywhere worldwide either on the free TuneIn app for all smart phones and tablets (Search: Phillip Silverstone) or online on Tunein at: http://bit.ly/1gY2Ht4. “Follow” the show for weekly updates. You can also LIKE Phillip on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Phillipsilverstone and follow him on Twitter: @wining