WORD FROM THE WINEMAKER WITH SUSANA BALBO
For our latest instalment of Word From The Winemaker, we are delighted to present our interview with the globally renowned wine maker, Susana Balbo.
Nicknamed the Queen of Torrontés by wine lovers worldwide, Balbo has been championing Argentine wine for over 43 years. Graduating as Argentina's first female oenologist and serving three terms as the Wines of Argentina President, Susana's contribution to the wine industry is immense. We are delighted to share an insight into her wine making process in the following interview, please scroll for the video of our conversation or simply read below.
To learn more about Susana, head to her website.
When tasting and judging a wine, what are you looking for in a glass?
When I am tasting and judging my wine, in a glass I do like to find some crucial points in order to be able to do the best tasting possible.
First of all, the transparency to see the colour and how the wine flows into the glass; this glass is absolutely perfect. The transparency gives me the colour of the white wine, the rose wine is perfect and in the red wine, I can see the colour, the hue, I can see the legs. This is amazing, absolutely amazing.
Secondly, I would like to find, when I am trying to get the flavours, the perfect expression of the flavour; in the identity of the variety, of the complexity and of what the wine is ready to show to me. So it is very important for the glass to have the perfect size and for the shape to give me the chance to have the best expression of the flavour. In this glass, it is amazing. Amazing!
Why are the Jancis Robinson Glasses your wine glass of choice?
I can taste all the flavour that this wine is giving to me. I can find all the little hues, like orange peel, flowers, lychee, everything. Wow.
Then in the mouth. The mouth is the most important because after you’ve used your eyes, your smell, the mouth fulfils the tasting procedure. In the mouth, you can see if the wine is complete and with good balance. It is according to the shape of the glass how the wine approaches your tongue, as is it where all our sensations for acidity and sweetness sit.
Jancis Robinson glasses feature to my wine the best expression that they have. This is fantastic for me when I have the chance to taste my wine with professionals, buyers, and sommeliers, as well as my friends and loved ones.
They feature what I’m looking for in the wine. I’m looking for balance, the best expression of the fruitiness that Argentina has which is unique, I am looking to be sure of the sweet tannins that the red has. This glass shows all the points I try to highlight in my wines, these are absolutely perfect.
What features of your wine become clearer and more prominent when using our Jancis Robinson Glass?
I can find the differentiation of what each wine has to show me in the mouth. In the white, it is perfect because I can taste the tension of the acidity. Even when the wine is barrel fermented the oak is just in the presence, giving a beautiful balance. In the rosé, I can taste the body and the weight on the palette. This for me, as a winemaker, is what I’m looking for in the glass to show me exactly what I designed for the wine.
In the red it is amazing and it is amazing because I can see the full fill, the full body of the wine and how it fills my mouth with the weight and the fine-grain tannin. It is giving me the beautiful sensation of a wine that is very pleasant, velvet; these are amazing glasses. The shape of the glasses works with all three wines, and this is very difficult to achieve in a glass, but Jancis Robinson has already achieved that in one glass so that all the wines can be tasted in the same shape.
What would you like people to experience when tasting your wine?
When people taste my wine, I would like them to find out in the wines what I want to show them. It is part of my soul. The passion to pursue perfection, the passion to show Argentina in its beautiful landscape and beautiful purity. It is very important for me as a winemaker to have people tasting what Argentina is capable of delivering into a bottle of wine and these glasses give me the chance to do this in the best way ever.
What makes my wine special, you're going to laugh at my answer, is this. I've been making wine for 43 years, and with age, you are looking for more purity and expression of the natural and what you like people to see when they look at you. When I was younger, I wore a lot of makeup and was trying to show many things because I was pretty insecure. Today, I would like to show my natural self as I believe it is the best way to show my real personality and my soul. I would like, when people taste my wine, to taste a piece of my soul, to taste a piece of my passion for wine, the balance, the elegance, the tension, because there is no harvest without tension, and that is the beauty of making wine.
Do you decant your wine, and if so why and when?
I decant my wine. My recommendation is for some wine, not all of them. In this case, it is an organic wine, as usually organic wine can be pretty close and can be tasted as acidic, so decanting organic wine is absolutely recommended. It is mandatory for organic wine because if not you can taste the wine and believe it is not good, or with a defect. When you give the wine the chance to breathe through decanting, the wine is going to show absolutely all the beauty it has to show you. So for organic wine, I recommend decantation. Susana uses our Mature Wine Decanter for organic wines.
It is beautiful, it shows all the fruitiness and the smooth flowery flavour in the wine without reduction; you can enjoy the wine from the very beginning.
I then have a second recommendation for decanting wine. Wines with some age, because the wine is put into the bottle in a reductive system, when the wine is laid down for 10 years, 14 years, 20 and 30 years, the wine could be very shy when you pour it into the glass immediately. If you don’t decant it before, the last glass tastes better than the first.
Why is that? It’s because the wine was breathing whilst you were drinking directly into the glass.
However, if you decant the wine one hour or two hours before the dinner or situation you are going to drink the wine, the wine is going to taste fantastic from the first glass to the last.
For the Bordeaux style blend, I use a bigger style decanter like the Young Wine Decanter because it needs more oxygen than organic wines.
You know what, the wine is perfect! It is showing how I would like people to taste my wine. Not shy, showing all the fruitiness that Argentina gives into the bottle and showing the beauty of the complexity of the blend.
These decanters are amazing, both of them. It’s very good, I strongly recommend decanting wine according to when you would like to enjoy the wine, rather than opening the wine 6 hours before dinner. When the wine is an organic wine it always needs some oxygen to show the beauty of the wine.
Watch the full interview below.