Derenoncourt California

- DECANTER: „Globetrotting consultant Stéphane Derencourt sits down with Kyle Schlachter to discuss why he chose to start making wine in California and how it differs from Bordeaux. (…)

In 2006, Stéphane and Christine started another of their own projects, Derenoncourt California. Released in 2009, Derenoncourt California’s initial 2006 vintage was the first wine he made in the United States. The Derenoncourt California project is based in the Napa Valley, and sources grapes from the Howell Mountain AVA, Coombsville AVA and Stagecoach Vineyard in Napa as well as Sonoma Valley AVA in Sonoma County to the west and the Red Hills Lake County AVA in Lake County to the north.

You were a successful winemaker in France and elsewhere around the world before you started Derenoncourt California. Why did you choose California? Napa?

St. Derencourt: My first trip to Napa was in 2005. A friend of mine asked me to see an estate. I fell in love with the area; it is such a beautiful place. I decided to come back to improve my wine knowledge about this area. Of course I have tasted a lot of wine and I thought it was not possible for me to have success on this continent because of the style of the wine. There is a lot of big wine with a lot of extraction and a lot of oak. That’s not really my style. That’s why I decided to start this project; because I am totally free. We choose the blocks. It is like vacation just driving the mountains to select the blocks. I take a lot of care on this project. I’ve worked with Hélène Mingot now for six years. She’s French and was living in Italy. When I decided to start the project I asked Hélène to come with me on this adventure and live here in Napa. We are very close to the project; we can be very precise. The goal is to make something we like and to find a good place with good soil and to keep the freshness of the fruit and make wine with balance. All of our wines are very different because of the place. We want to make vin de terroir.

What is the biggest difference between winemaking in California and Bordeaux?

St. Derencourt: They are opposite worlds. In Bordeaux we always fight against the rain and the cold. In California we have to fight the sun. In Bordeaux the goal is to get the ripeness. Here it is to keep the freshness. (…)“