Monday, January 7, 2013

1/7-Michael Horn visits with Christian Roguenant & Fintan du Fresne

Christian Roguenant - Winemaker, Baileyana Winery

Christian Roguenant was born to wine. A native of the Burgundy region of France who grew up among the vineyards, he decided early on to become a winemaker. His studies at the University of Dijon focused on enology and winemaking and included graduate coursework in wine marketing. This education served him well as he traveled the world to make wine on five continents. Included in his experience were fifteen years with Champagne Deutz, one of the premier Champagne houses in France and service as a consultant to wineries around the world. His travels brought him to wineries in Argentina, Germany, Australia, New Zealand, Korea (where he made sparkling wine for the 1988 Olympics) and finally to the Central Coast of California. "Where better to first make Chardonnay and Pinot Noir than Burgundy; or Sauvignon Blanc than New Zealand, or Syrah than the North Rhone?" smiles Roguenant. "I have been very fortunate," he continues, "I have learned so much from so many winemakers and experiences!"
When the Niven family, owners of Baileyana, decided to build a new winery in 1998 they gave a blank slate to Roguenant to design the winery of his dreams. His gracious, light-filled design is state of the art and elegantly functional. Red wines are fermented in the classic Burgundian method in numerous small, open-top fermentors. This compact system allows for gentle punch down of the caps as the wine ferments and enables Roguenant to keep each lot separate by clone, vineyard block, yeast trial, or whatever he chooses. Three individually climate-controlled barrel cellars are available to Roguenant for completing fermentation and for aging. Roguenant is also pleased with the esthetics of the winery. "The windows let in a lot of natural light," he says. "Although the wine never sees the light, the people do and that makes the winery a very pleasant place to work."
Roguenant delights in selecting among the hand picked fruit from the Firepeak Vineyard. The estate vineyard, adjacent to the Baileyana winery, is planted with carefully chosen clones and rootstocks, and is the jewel of the Edna Valley. "This vineyard allows me to achieve my goal: to make the wine as true to the varietal as possible," Roguenant confirms. "My philosophy of winemaking is this: give me rough but nice diamonds; my job is to polish without scratching them." He also enjoys the premium varietals selected for the Baileyana wines, including fruit from not only from the Firepeak Vineyard and other estate vineyards. "My passion and desire is to make better wine every year. A winemaker is the greatest critic about his own wine-always striving to get closer to perfection."
A judge for numerous wine competitions, Roguenant enjoys the camaraderie of his peers. "I continue to learn so much, consulting with other winemakers-here in California and around the world. I enjoy so many wonderful friendships!" He would welcome the opportunity to spend some time with his life-long hobby, photography. For now, he contents himself with taking pictures of his wife Lois and their young son Blake.

Our winemaker, Fintan du Fresne, brings a wealth of fine winemaking and wine growing experience. Before his first Chamisal harvest in 2006, he managed seven crushes in his native New Zealand and then acquired the art of California winemaking with stints at several well-respected wineries.
Our winemaking philosophy is a natural approach and is all about bringing our special vineyard to life. Everyone at Chamisal shares a respect for the estate and a hands-on approach to all aspects of winegrowing. All vineyard work is done by hand. During harvest, we may take as many as four passes through each block to ensure that fruit is brought in during ideal ripeness. We also ferment and age each lot separately, tailoring our winemaking details, like the kind of French oak used, to highlight characteristics unique to that particular clone and block.

From our painstaking work in the field to the careful handcrafting of our wine, our style is driven by nature. It's about allowing the specific varietal to shine and expressing our vineyard's naturally bold and complex flavors. 

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