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Since ancient times, no product has accumulated such a large amount of cultural, social and historical values, as wine has. The depth of the meanings and layers stems, among other things, from the tremendous complexity involved in the wine making process, which is influenced by so many elements, which the vintner only partly controls.
Lin Gold, Head Vintner at the Ella Valley Wineries, presents some of his guiding principles.
On Science and Art
Wine making is first and foremost an art form, and only then is it a science. Wine is something that is alive and breathing, which changes and grows and which, just like a human being, cannot be fully understood. As such, a good wine leaves in its tracks a little mystery and room for surprises. In order to produce good wine, a lot of knowledge is required, as well as good senses.
Such a large number of factors are involved in the process that it is hard to determine their impact precisely. We are constantly learning - learning about each vineyard and each plot of land. This is an ongoing process, which has been going on for seven consecutive harvests. With each harvest, we understand a little more, and are still surprised to discover new things.
Wine is not an industrial product. It is a totally natural product. Therefore, there are never two similar harvests, and there are no two similar wines. The differences start with the grape itself, which changes each year, every day and every hour. In the fermentation process, as well, anything can happen. You know what went in, but not exactly what comes out. This is why it is important to go with the difference, to accept it and to love it.
Letting the Variety Speak
Each variety of grape has its own beauty and character. The vintner's role is to preserve these characteristics, in order to enable the wine to be "itself" in the best possible way, to let the variety express itself, preserving its original taste, rather than trying to turn it into something else. Thus, we use old barrels, so that the wood does not dominate the taste.
One should also let the region express itself - we are not in the Negev, nor are we in the Galilee, in Tuscany or in California. This is the Valley of Ella, with its own earth and climate. Our aim is to get the best out of the region and of the vines, of our uniqueness and of our differences.
Elegance is the characteristic that best defines our wines: on the one hand, the right measure of restraint and balance between all the elements that make up the taste, scent and color, have to be precise for the variety and for the region; on the other hand, like in fashion, there should always be something creative, surprising and interesting, which sometimes breaks the rules.
An elegant wine is a "broad" wine that slowly releases its tastes and uncovers new things for you as it passes under your nose, on your tongue or your palate, thereby offering you a complex experience.
Elegance is also expressed in the way the wine ages, matures and improves. Just like an actor who starts his career as a good-looking twenty-year old, and who at the age of sixty or seventy looks even better, is more interesting, and deeper, without having lost any of the original features that made everyone fall in love with him.
Various Schools of Wine Making
On the one hand, I belong to the wine culture of the new world. In this sense, Israel is closer to California or Australia. Modernity has provided me with the scientific and professional background, which enables me to get the maximum out of every harvest and to guarantee the high quality and precision that characterizes the winery.
On the other hand, I studied the profession in France, which is traditional and conservative. According to the French approach, wine is a living and breathing creature and it does not attempt to change it according to some need, but rather to go with it, to believe in it and to let it take care of itself.
When a problem occurs - for example, if the wine does not develop as expected - the American vintner will immediately open some book and look for a solution. The French vintner will wait for a week and see what happens, as he is fully confident that a good wine is sufficiently strong to be able to overcome this problem.