Modern legends


The word legends may suggest something from the past but this illustrious panel, moderated by Jean-Michel Valette MW, brought together four of the world’s leading winemakers for a wide ranging conversation illustrated with their wines. Representing the pinnacle of winemaking achievement from three continents, Paul Draper of Ridge Vineyards, Peter Gago of Penfolds, Alvaro Palacios of Descendientes de J. Palacios and Paul Pontallier of Château Margaux shared their lives in wine with a rapt audience. Each spoke of the lessons they had learned during their careers, explained what their chosen wine in the tasting represented and how setbacks had made them better winemakers. With remarkable candour they talked about the biggest risks they had taken, whom from outside the world of wine had most influenced them, what advice they had received and wished they had received at the outset of their careers, and regaled the audience with previously unheard anecdotes and stories. The tasting comprised: 1995 Ridge Monte Bello, Ridge Vineyards, California, USA; 2006 La Faraona, Descendientes de J. Palacios, Bierzo, Spain; 2004 Block 42 Kalimna Cabernet, Penfolds, Barossa Valley, Australia and 1996 Château Margaux, 1er Cru Classé, Margaux, Bordeaux. An extraordinary session, followed by questions from the floor, and the perfect ending to the formal business of the symposium.

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Moderator  Jean-Michel Valette
Jean-Michel Valette MW became a Master of Wine in 1992 and is currently Deputy Vice Chairman of the Institute.  He is non-executive chairman of Peet's Coffee & Tea, Inc., North America's leading sourcer and seller of artisan roasted coffees, and sits on the board of directors for The Boston Beer Company, Select Comfort Corporation and Huneeus Vintners.  His previous experience includes roles as managing director and chairman of Robert Mondavi Winery, president and CEO of Franciscan Estates and managing director of Hambrecht & Quist Inc., a San Francisco-based investment bank and venture capital company he joined in 1987.
Panel  Paul Draper Paul Draper is CEO and winemaker with Eric Baugher and John Olney at Ridge Vineyards in California.  He grew up on an 80-acre farm in Illinois, and received a degree in philosophy from Stanford University.  Paul joined Ridge in 1969 to work with the cooler climate and limestone soils of Monte Bello.  He believes fervently in single-vineyard winemaking and has sought out those vineyard sites where the wines make themselves in terms of balance and distinctive character.
   Peter Gago Peter Gago initially taught maths and science before attending Roseworthy college, graduating as Dux of the Oenology programme.  He joined Penfolds in 1989, initially making sparkling wine before moving to reds.  He was appointed chief winemaker in 2002, and is only the fourth winemaker to be responsible for the flagship Grange.
   Alvaro Palacios Alvaro Palacios was born in 1964 in the house of the family winery in Alfaro.  From then onwards the aromas of the countryside, the winery and traditional wine have gone with him.  After training at Bordeaux University and working in Bordeaux, he returned to Spain.  Today, he has bodegas in Rioja, Priorat and Bierzo, and is one of the defining personalities of Spanish wine.
   Paul Pontallier Paul Pontallier was born in 1956 in Bordeaux in a family of long established wine producers.  He studied agronomy in Paris, then viticulture in Montpellier, and came back to Bordeaux in 1978 where he completed a PhD in oenology in 1981, after a thesis on the barrel-aging of red wines.  He worked as Professor of Oenology in Chile at the University of Santiago, but returned to France in 1983 and immediately started working as winemaker, manager and then general manager of Château Margaux.





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