From a global cast of winemakers come intimate, revealing comments about their art, which swing between invigorating to mellow.
Three years, 50 people and a dozen countries later, Mullen returns with these insights into why folks involved with the wine trade are in love with their work. The reasons are legion but all of a part: being outdoors and in tune with the seasons, entering into a partnership with the grapes, pride in the art of creation and an independence of spirit; as one Slovenian winemaker said, “When we started we have opinions that are different than other guys.” What Mullen has delivered is essentially a transcript of the spoken word, as unvarnished as are many of these mostly unsung winemakers—there are plenty of abrupt transitions and digressions—an enjoyable collection that contains many a rough diamond who yet ably convey the passion they bring to their work. “I like drinking red wine. I like making red wine. I like thinking about red wine.” Mullen keeps the proceedings lively by covering not only lots of ground—New Zealand to Missouri, Washington to the Azores—but also lots of aspects of winemaking, from cooperage to corks, the challenging demands placed on women winemakers, research into screwcaps, the talents of the garagiste, winery architecture. Particularly impressive is a short course on Italian geology that blossoms into an earnest and enlightening dissection of the whole notion of terroir, as well as a wonderfully disarming story of a Frenchman who now makes cognac, but who came to the calling via Kent in England, where he worked at “a small winery in the town of Chiddingstone for a bit more than two years. That’s where I learned to make wine.” That is an admission perhaps unique in the long annals of winemaking. Included are photographs heavily saturated with atmosphere, the kind you can almost smell before you see them.
A fine, maverick company of winemakers hold court about the thing they love best: communing with the world of the grape.