Wednesdays with Winemakers – Aaron Pott
Why did you become a winemaker?
I found wine at a young age (around 9 years old) and made the connection that it was my passport to adulthood. Everyone at the age of 9 wants to be an adult and wine seemed to be my ticket. This was on a trip to France, and I noticed that on all the properties we visited: people were living in beautiful Chateaux, they were outside most of the time, and they had dogs. It looked like a great lifestyle.
If you weren’t a winemaker what would you be and why?
A retired bullfighter, I like the outfit and it has some of the cultural and historic touchstones that I find in wine.
What is your greatest strength as a winemaker?
My vineyard knowledge. Running a Grand Cru Classé Château in St. Emilion forces one to work in the vineyard. I have a great understanding of the vine and what it needs to produce great fruit.
What is your biggest weakness as a winemaker?
My love of wine. I want to make everything and work at many different sites. Sometimes it can be overwhelming.
What’s the one mistake you made in the cellar you would never repeat?
Pushing my employees too hard. I assumed early on in my career that everyone had the same passion for wine as I did and I wore people out.
What is your proudest achievement?
My two daughters.
What was your scariest vintage to date?
My first vintage in Bordeaux. It was 1993, (I had just turned 27) I was running a Grand Cru Classé Château in St. Emilion and I was an American. There was a lot of pressure to perform. Luckily, I had access to Michel Rolland on a regular basis and was good at bulls***ing. I had only made wine in Napa and the weather was quite severe that I was surprised when we were forced to pick Cabernet Sauvignon at 9% potential alcohol.
What is your favorite word or saying?
“We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars.” – Oscar Wilde.
What is your most prized possession?
What’s the oddest thing about you?
What song best sums you up?
“Sous le dôme épais aria” from the opera Lakmé, it’s optimistic and moving.
What is your favorite memory?
Hiking with my daughters for the first time when they really enjoyed it.
Which of the five senses is your strongest?
What is your biggest motivation?
Which bottle of wine would choose to be stranded with on a deserted island?
It really depends on the climate! I would think if it were tropical, a nice cool bottle of Prum Kabinett Wehlener Sonnenuhr from a good vintage. In a cooler environment, maybe a 1971 Staatsweingut Assmannshaussen Höllenburg Spatsburgunder Spatlese.
What is the difference between a good and great wine?
Great wine goes beyond just aroma and flavor. Great wine creates a “mind voyage,” it brings back memories, makes us think of places and times that we may have forgotten. Great wine is transporting, transfiguring and transcendental.
Name three individuals you would like to have dinner with.
Voltaire, Aristotle and Marcel Proust.
Who is your winemaking hero?
Besides Jesus Christ if he existed, I would go with Jean-Louis Mandrau.
What does the concept of “balance” mean to you?
Balance means that all elements of a wine are in equal proportions. Balance can be aromatic or elements of taste. Balance needs its sister complexity to really shine.
What is the one thing you want people to remember about your wine?
Where it comes from, and its characteristics are a reflection of that place.
Best comment made about your wine? Was it by a consumer, trade or press?
“That is the best Pott that I have had since the sixties,” by an anonymous shaggy-haired baby boomer consumer at a tasting.