Aggressive Karma And The Myth Of A Wild Fermentation With Russell Bevan

I met Russell Bevan last year as we had both done our time with the Jesuits at Gonzaga University.  Russell is a big guy with an even larger personality, which is only superseded by some of the critical review his wines have received.

He is a man who pulls no punches.   That is what most excited me to bring him onto the Inside Winemaking Podcast.  Russell founded Bevan Cellars with his partner, Victoria De Crescenzo, in 2004 and in less than ten years has rocketed to the top of luxury wine lovers’ most-coveted list.   In our conversation Russell lays out his disdain for “good, clean wine,” and explains in detail his winemaking philosophy and the meticulous standards he and his team employ.  For example, Russell is preparing to make up to six yeast additions to his wines this coming harvest in order to re-create his version of a wild fermentation.  And this because, as he states, “There’s no such thing as a true wild fermentation.”  Most of Russell’s ideas on winemaking challenge what I have learned during my own career and our conversation during this podcast left my head spinning in the way it does every time we meet.  I keep coming back for more.

There are three people that Russell credits as his winemaking mentors.  During our conversation he pays tribute to those winemakers and identifies the components of his winemaking that he credits to each.

After Russell mentioned Jean-Paul Sartre in reference to his thesis at Gonzaga (Hedonistic Utilitarianism is a Moral Imperative) I found an awesome description of Sartre’s almost daily cocktail of drugs while reading the book Daily Rituals by Mason Currey.   “His diet over the period of 24 hours included 2 packs of cigarettes, and several pipes stuffed with black tobacco, more than a quart of alcohol (wine, beer, whiskey, and so on), 200mg of amphetamines, 15 g of aspirin, several grams of barbituates, plus coffee, tea, rich meals…”  Sartre was known for using Corydrane (amphetamine + aspirin) for which he went 10x on the regular dose!  I’m getting a jag on just imagining this ritual.