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Critics and winemakers convene at new conference

Winemakers and their critics have met for the inaugural edition of WineCreator, an international conference in Ronda, Spain.

Participants in WineCreator, which took place 18-19 April, included conference president Jancis Robinson MW, moderator and Spanish wine critic Victor de la Serna, American importer and critic David Schildknecht, and Portuguese winemaker Dirk van der Niepoort.

In her opening remarks, Robinson said she hoped everyone would take maximum advantage of the opportunity and avoid, ‘hot air, platitudes and empty words’.

The theme of the conference was whether wine quality is increasing at the expense of diversity of style. Issues included vineyard management styles, and whether the desire to make icon wines might be a losing proposition for winemakers.

‘We have a responsibility to incubate good winemakers,’ said American critic David Schildknecht, ‘rather than paying excessive attention to top wines most people will never taste.’

Schildknecht also warned winemakers who focus too much on icon wines, rather than good wines, that they risk losing both profits and potential customers.

On the topic of vineyard management, Dirk van der Niepoort said winemakers should not take everything they are told as gospel.

‘I was told it would be “impossible” to make wine in the Douro without pesticides,’ he said. ‘It is possible, but it is more work and a bit more expensive in the beginning.’

Ales Kristancic, of Slovenian winery Movia, emphasised that winemaking should be about ‘what is right for the plant long-term, not what is right for the wine that year.’

Victor de la Serna suggested that the debate over irrigation was masking other problems, like the issue of growing vines in overly rich soils in places like Spain and the Languedoc.

WineCreator was hosted and funded by Spanish PR company, Groupo Penin, and a consortium of seven property developers who are launching La Melonera, a 200 hectare complex of vineyards attached to residences.

Written by Sophie Kevany

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