Die Ignoranten

Written by Petra Gratzer-Weninger on the 21st of December 2014

When someone would ask us for a book recommendation for wine and/or biodynamics initiates, our answer would usually be quite monosyllabic. Technical books on cellar techniques are not entirely suitable for interested wine consumers; wine region guides, however, offer too little information on winemaking and winegrowing processes.
But we recently discovered a book by the French illustrator Étienne Davodeau who provides a wonderfully innovative introduction to the world of winemaking – and much more.

Cartoonist/illustrator Étienne strikes an unusual deal with his friend Richard: the winemaker must introduce him to the world of wine, and, in exchange, Étienne will show him the world of comics. Richard begins reading comics, meets illustrators, accompanies Étienne to comic festivals and gains comprehensive insights into the creation of comics. Étienne learns how to identify good wine, how to prune vines correctly, how to select barrels for ageing and determine the best winemaking methods. But much more significant than the insider knowledge shared between the two individuals is the realisation that their professions have more in common than they thought.

For this comics project, for over a year, Davodeau accompanied former banker Richard Leroy, who followed his love for viticulture and now cultivates his own biodynamic vineyard. In winter the vines are pruned, and you can see in the cartoon with how much manual labour and love the winemaker pursues his passion.

For those who are interested in winegrowing and winemaking techniques but do not want to struggle through technical books, you will find it an interesting but also very entertaining read which offers a great introduction to the topic. Highly recommended!

The book also depicts Leroy’s use of sulphur, which reminded me a lot of myself – the fierce fight to reduce the use of sulphur to zero. As the book was written from the perspective of the illustrator, this fight was a little embarrassing to me. Especially when Leroy has no choice but to add sulphur after all and is ashamed for it in front of Étienne, and tries to hide the fact, I realised that this could not be the goal. It is not about completely avoiding the use of sulphur. It is about making the best possible wine. When the wine tastes better with a minimal addition of sulphur, then that should take preference Read more about this in our FAQs. That is the motto we apply in our cellar when it comes to sulphur. As little as possible, but if the wine needs it, then we stand firmly behind our decision and indicate it honestly in our facts sheets and communications.

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