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Five minutes with Teresa Heuzenroeder, Petaluma Wines

Published:  28 June, 2022

Teresa Heuzenroeder, senior winemaker at Petaluma Wines, talks to Andrew Catchpole about the marked differences on dealing with the world’s most celebrated whites – Riesling and Chardonnay – as a winemaker.

Riesling and Chardonnay are so different, there are different things about them that I like. I love Riesling, it has that purity and acid line, but [there’s] the fact that, as a winemaker, it’s probably a more scary variety because it’s such a direct expression of the vineyard and there is nowhere to hide. [Riesling is] made in the vineyard and there’s not a lot of winemaking artefact that comes with that. Whereas Chardonnay, while it still obviously has to be on the right site and those factors will contribute, there’s much more that winemakers can contribute – you can play around with it much more. There’s still nowhere to hide if you haven’t got the right site, or good grapes, but there’s greater flexibility in the cellar.

You can grow Chardonnay in a lot of places, but to get that exceptional expression it does need to be on the right site, like Riesling. But Riesling is ‘hands off, don’t touch’, and you put it in the bottle straight away. There’s much more evolution in the Chardonnay process. It gives you more to do as a winemaker, because you can barrel ferment, you can do battonage, you can do malo, you decide what oak barrels [to use], the toast, what your blend is going to be… it goes on and on and on. There are multiple decisions to make. With Riesling it’s a bit like ‘well, here I am’, so its more about the vineyard than the winemaking.