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Copyright © 2012
Forkmedia LLC



by Fred McMillin
for March 2, 2000

 

Take a Pott Shot


Prologue

Aaron Pott has been hired to oversee the day-to-day production in France of Beringer's brand Rivefort de France from the Languedoc region, including Chardonnay. (from March 1998 Beringer press release)


The Rest of the Story

Aaron Pott  
At age ten in Eugene, Oregon, Aaron Pott, (pictured), made his first vintage from table grapes, trying to bring forth a wine that would please his dad. The vintage was not quite as successful as those he would later produce as general manager and winemaker at St.-Emilion's Chateau La Tour-Figeac...but the family appreciated the motive, if not "the mess-making that went with it...which I loved."

That early passion for winemaking soon led to an Enology degree at U.C.-Davis, working several harvests at Robert Mondavi's, and then a graduate degree at the University of Burgundy in Dijon.

It culminated with the offer to join Beringer in 1998...And what timing. The consensus is that 1998 produced the best Languedoc grapes of the decade. You can sense the excitement in this letter from my files.

 

    Dear Fred,

    I am moments away from departing the Napa Valley for the harvest in France to produce our Rivefort de France wines. My delight at returning to France and its growers has been building...Aaron Pott


Volume Down, Quality Up

Two months after Aaron joined Beringer, a good omen appeared in a N.Y. Times headline: Languedoc Succeeds by Switching From Quantity to Quality. "The Languedoc, a vast scimitar-shaped region that sweeps from the Rhone almost to the Spanish border, is France's oldest and largest wine-producing area. It has been the home of ordinary wine of low strength and no character...But now, many mediocre wine vines have been uprooted, and the region is plunging into the world of varietal wines—that is, they are named after their dominant grape."

So Aaron is among those leading the quality charge in the region. His relationship with one of the growers is illustrative.

"I dine frequently with the Rouquettes. The conversation (in French, of course) is enlivened by Mr. Rouquette's tales of treating kangaroos, camels and even elephants when the circus comes to town"...you see, he's the local vet. More important, however, is the fact that he's the fourth-generation owner of a 100-acre, hillside vineyard of such quality that Aaron buys the entire production.

Rivefort de France Chardonnay So, you have the picture. A talented winemaker excited by an opportunity to create new wines from France's oldest wine district...from the best vintage of the decade. This means you can try his Chardonnay for $16?? NO. NO. It is only six dollars, our...


Bargin of the Day

1998 Rivefort de France Chardonnay
Languedoc Region, France
Owner—Beringer
Winemaker—Aaron Pott
Winemaking—90% fermented in stainless steel to let the grape flavors shine, and 10% fermented in oak to add a touch of vanilla and spice. Rating—If you drink Chardonnays under $10, you must try Aaron's latest. Very competitive in this price range.
Contact—Nicole Carter, (707) 833-4134, FAX (707) 967-9573
Price—$6 range


Postscript

Aaron must have done alright at Chateau La Tour-Figeac, where, according to America's grape guru Robert Parker, Jr, "winemaking has been very good." Case closed.

 
About the Writer

Fred McMillin, a veteran wine writer, has taught wine history for 30 years on three continents. He currently teaches wine courses at San Francisco State and San Francisco City College. In 1995, the Academy of Wine Communications honored Fred with one of only 22 Certificates of Commendation awarded to American wine writers.

 
 


This page created March 2000

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