Seattle Wine Blog

This blog is dedicated to commentary on all aspects of wine, especially short entries to help you find the best wines without the usual hype and spin. These are my frank, independent opinions, usually based on tasting wine at a public event, off the shelf or at the winery. "All creative acts must arise out of a specific soil and flicker with a spirit of place" -D.H. Lawrence

Friday, June 29, 2007

The Winemaker's Passion

Don Corson, winemaker and owner at Cameraderie Cellars generously took time out of his busy day when we arrived unannounced on a day when the winery was closed. We sat in one of his many gardens, talking about wine and Don’s many other interests. Right now, Don is reading Hildegard of Bingen and thinking about the sacred. It is a pleasure to talk with a man of such varied interests. Don is able to talk about wine from so many different perspectives – geology, religion, spirituality, enology, viticulture, culture to name just a few. I mentioned my post on the cheese nun and asked Don what he thought about her view on wild natural yeast and terroir. The risk with natural yeast is a spoiled fermentation which most small wineries can hardly afford, but Don is keenly aware of the role of yeast and its relation to terroir, and uses a wide variety of commercial yeasts to influence the fermentation.

We talked about the faux counterterroiristes. The slogan, “it’s the land, stupid” really got a rise out of Don. “What about the winemaker’s passion?” Many winemakers coyly claim that if you have good grapes, the less they do to them, the better the wine, but Don pointed out that the winemaker has so many choices that influence the wine – cold fermentation, punch down, yeast inoculations, wood or steel, new or used barrels, French or American, barrel toast, time in the barrel, blending different varietals or vineyards etc,. Winemaking is an art, the winemaker is the artist, the wine is the medium. And as with all arts, the medium is an instrument and an extension of the artist. The artist always leaves his signature on the work of art in the form of style. That’s why it is so easy to tell a Picasso from a Van Gogh. It is simplistic the set up winemaker vs. terroir. Wine is the outcome of a complex interaction between the grape, the soil and the winemaker which evolves in so many different ways.

Don’s 2004s are fabulous. IMO, the best wines he has made. In this vintage he captures the essence of each varietal we tasted. The Cabernet Franc was deep but nottoo big, with intense black fruit flavors – smooth, seemless, and rich in flavor. The Cabernet Sauvignon was bigger and more structured, the Syrah broader. We had a bottle of the Trinquer with Chinese food that evening and it was a perfect match. Cameraderie wines are available in 16 states and provinces. They are available at wine shops and better supermarkets in the Seattle area and you will be sure to find them at the Tasting Room in downtown Seattle. But the best way to buy them is to drive out to Port Angeles and visit the tranquil, meditative gardens at the winery. Not only are the wines an expression of Don’ passion, but the winery is, too. Visit this oasis of peace and tranquillity set in the lush beauty of a northwest forest


  • At 1:47 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Don is a class act & winery a pleasure to visit.


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