As busy a guy as he is, you wouldn't know it to speak with him. Generous with his time and soft spoken, he walked through his winemaking approach, how Greenfield goes about the business of making wine, and the general state of the industry. Though we covered a lot of ground, it was his winemaking approach that we were most interested in.
After all, it seems like the wine is meant to taste the way it does. And since the reviews here don't reflect too well on them, we wanted to ask him what the deal is. And he was happy to share.
Jean-Noel Gagnard in Chassagne. His early days working in wineries there left their mark on him and he brings a deliberately French philosophy to California grapes. That means eschewing highly extracted powerhouse flavors, high alcohol, and cocktail hour characteristics while embracing aromatics, nuance, and compatibility with meals. And there is no question that in these regards he succeeds.
But, wait a second. If people want a Burgundian-styled Pinot or a Bourdelaise-styled Merlot, they'll hit the French aisle of a local retailer, right?. Besides, California earned its own laurels long ago. So, why make French wine in California?
To this question, Paul is an unapologetic idealist - and you've got to respect him for that. "It's just what I do...these are wines for people who want those qualities", he says. But he is quick to clarify, "I would never try to 'imitate' French wines in California--lots of people tried that in the eighties and it didn't work well. What I do try to do is to bring some of the subtlety, focus, and flavor interest of European wines to the unique character of California grapes. It is interpretive, not imitative."