The distorted legacy of Émile Peynaud.

July 30 2004 2:08 PM

The Tastemaker

Émile Peynaud invented modern winemaking, but don't blame him for what's wrong with modern wine.

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What Peynaud emphasized above all else was the need for balance; for all the elements in a wine—the fruit, tannins, acidity, and alcohol—to be in harmony. According to Schuster and Boissenot, this is a quality he found sorely lacking in much contemporary winemaking. "He thought there was too much extraction, too much new wood, and not enough finesse," says Boissenot. "I think he felt that people incorrectly interpreted the things he taught." Peynaud made that point himself in an interview some years ago with Wine International magazine; on the subject of new oak, he said, "My aim was never to persuade all these producers to buy new barrels. ... I'd have been just as happy for many of them to replace the bad casks with clean concrete tanks."

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