Learning about wine, vines and vignerons whilst living in the Languedoc

Iceberg Theory

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Ernest Hemingway had a theory that writing the simple story whilst not explaining deeper themes would help the reader understand the story . Instead they would implicitly see the bigger picture and work things out for themselves. This was the Iceberg Theory (or my interpretation of it!).

Making wine has some parallels. The wine that is drunk is the final product but not the whole story. And what makes the wine great is what is missing. You might remember that in the vineyard Jeff insisted that pickers should eliminate any grapes of poor quality, they were left behind on the ground and even cut out of bunches. Remember that Jeff and Michel have already spent many hours in the vineyard making sure that the vines produce top quality grapes. This involves, for example, pruning and cutting off bunches of grapes if the vines are too productive, as this would produce more dilute wines.

Grapes left behind

Grapes left behind



Cutting poor quality grapes out of bunches

Cutting poor quality grapes out of bunches













Then in the cellar the grapes were sorted carefully to make sure that any inferior quality grapes that were missed by the pickers were removed before they were put into vats. This is called triage.



Therefore, Jeff can be confident that only healthy, top quality grapes are used to make his wines. This allows him to avoid chemical interference in his winemaking and to fulfill the grapes’ natural potential.

The last few weeks have seen a further stage of taking things out. After the vineyard management, after the careful harvesting, after the triage.

Bottles that are good but not good enough

Bottles that are good but not good enough

As the wines settle in their cuves, fermenting and working their magic the cellars have been busy with packing pallets of wine to send to merchants around France, the UK, USA and many parts of Europe and the Far East. Today I took the photo above. As every bottle is dressed (habillée) with capsule and labels it is checked for any sign of damage, eg small holes in the cork or slight leakage. These bottles are removed and can be used for wine tasting for visitors to the cellar in the next few weeks. Therefore, what reaches the buyer and the drinker should be of top quality and wines which they can trust to be of the high standard expected from Mas Coutelou. They do not have to worry about all the work that has gone on to ensure their satisfaction and delight, though maybe now they know a little more about it.

The iceberg theory in practice. Cheers Papa Hemingway!

Author: amarch34

I'm a recently retired (early!) teacher from County Durham in North east England. I am going to be spending most of the next year in the Languedoc leaarning about wines, vineyards and the people who care for both.

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