Winemaking Apprenticeship, Mas des Dames 2011, part 1

It seems only natural to me that anyone seriously involved with wine would want to do a winemaking apprenticeship. It’s an idea I’ve had for some years now. Since I work in wine, I spend most of my waking hours with it. It is my profession and in the evening it is my joy and solace, a continually changing mystery: originating from all over the world, constantly differing and charming in so many ways.

Yet what is it, really? Fermented grape juice would be the most prosaic answer, yet in many cases I feel that good wine, like food, is art, the personal expression of the winemaker using grapes as material. It is the divine act of the alcoholic fermentation, the ancient alchemical transformation of grapes into a Bacchanalian elixir which has been a part of our history for 8,000 years, that interests me.

Lidewij van Wilgen at the sorting table

I’ve already written about Lidewij van Wilgen, owner/winemaker of Mas des Dames, who I met this past spring, while vacationing in the Languedoc. I received a tip that a Dutch woman produces great wines nearby and was about to publish a book about her experiences. Intrigued, I drove to her estate and met her briefly. She invited me the next day to a tasting for 13 sommeliers from top restaurants in London. After tasting the wines, I was thoroughly convinced. I contacted the importer, purchased the wines and invited her to do a tasting/launching for her book Het Domein, which took place in Wijnhuis Zuid on May 15th. more>>

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