The French oenologist Émile Peynaud (1912-2004) was one of the most important wine critics, scientists and teachers in the field. He worked closely with the "father of wine science" Jean Ribérau-Gayon and came to the Institut d'Oenologie at the University of Bordeaux after the Second World War. From the late 1940s onwards, he acted as a consultant to many châteaux in Bordeaux on winemaking issues. The selection of only healthy and above all ripe grapes was an important concern for him and in this respect he made a special effort to give Bordeaux wine more balance and longevity. The list reads like a "who's who" of the most famous Bordeaux châteaux
Château Beychevelle, Château Lafite-Rothschild, Château Léoville-Las-Cases, Château Margaux, Château Cheval Blanc, Château Ducru-Beaucaillou, Château Haut-Brion, Château Pape-Clément and Château Pichon-Longueville Comtesse. This later led him to many wineries around the world, including being involved as a consultant in the founding of the famous Carras (Meliton-Greece, 1960s) and Ca' del Bosco (Lombardy-Italy, 1970s) wineries. He always strove to leave as little as possible to chance in vinification and, as early as the early 1950s, shaped practices that are now taken for granted. These include the mastery of malolactic fermentation achieved through scientific research and the maceration of red wines.
Peynaud wrote numerous wine books as well as around 300 treatises on winemaking. He had a great talent for passing on his knowledge in an understandable and captivating manner. He also considered the ability to taste correctly to be equally important and became an absolute specialist. Subjectivity and objectivity in a wine evaluation are always the subject of heated debates, the latter often being doubted. In this regard, he remarked in his book "Die hohe Schule für Weinkenner" (The High School for Wine Connoisseurs), which was first published in 1985: "The paradox of tasting is the fact that it wants to be an objective procedure, but works with subjective means in the sense that these have a relationship to the object being examined.
The wine is the object, the taster the subject. The human senses are used as measuring instruments. Rules can be laid down for their proper functioning, their precision increased, sources of error eliminated, but the taster is not only the executor, but also the interpreter and judge. The taster must be cool and precise in his taste analysis, rigorous in his conclusions but committed in his judgement." Peynaud considered proper wine tasting skills as essential to optimal winemaking as a thorough knowledge of oenology. Incidentally, Peynaud was a strict opponent of decanting for the purpose of oxygen contact, which he even found negative. See also under wine speech.