By Fergal Gleeson
Bruce Dukes is the Winemaker for Clairault Streicker, a 5 star Halliday rated winery, who possess some of the oldest vines in Margaret River.
There’s an onsite Café and Cellar Door which apart from tastings offers a wine blending experience. The grounds of the Estate are available for Wedding functions.
Bruce considers the Winemaker to be an artist, scientist and a craftsman.
“The art is the gut feeling and the intuitive flair” he says. “There are so many things that can’t be measured and quantified. I spent 7 years in university studying science and that’s been invaluable to help me understand what’s really going on.”
“To evaluate information to make better decision based on repeated observation. The craft is because you’ve got to practice it. With that comes a refinement of what you do.”
“You must understand the styles and tastes that you like,” Bruce says. “You can measure acidity by numbers but a wine may taste sour or flat. The science can be useful but the numbers can’t measure the taste in the winery. That needs intuition.”
“You need to draw on a long term craft of how that translates through in 2-5 years. This is the feedback loop that you refine and improve upon.”
“My observation from my group of friends and winemakers is that all have good technical backgrounds. But the ones who have artistic flair are leading the pack. They are exploring the art not the science of how far things can go. If you don’t go over the edge you don’t know where the edge is!”
“You can see this in site selection and harvest decisions in trying to make the right choices on the fruit for the style of wine that you want. It’s tactile. You are touching the fruit, observing the colour. For reds you are looking at the skin, the tannins and the seeds. The craft is knowing how the vineyard has performed in previous years.”
“The biggest variable is the fruit. In the last 28 years that I have been making wine no years have been the same. You must pay attention to all the details. They may not have a meaningful impact on their own but if 100 of them are joined together then you get a much more enjoyable wine.”
Predictably we conclude that making a great wine requires a multidisciplinary approach with artistic temperament, scientific grounding and experience in the vineyard.
Having settled this thorny question, lets cast aside academic debate and reward ourselves with a bottle of Margaret River’s finest. Because enjoying a beautiful Cabernet or Chardonnay requires no skill or talent at all!
From Your Margaret River Region Magazine