Meet the manager: Head winemaker Liam Idzikowski

Liam Idzikowski tells us about his journey to becoming head winemaker at Lyme Bay.

Favourite children’s book?

I was addicted to the Asterix books. The Gaul’s decadence probably left an impression!

What did you have for breakfast this morning?

Weetabix, Berocca and two espressos.

How did you get started in wine?

Wine was always a big part of growing up, but as a racehorse work rider and amateur jockey for eight years in Ireland, my initial aim was to get some sun on my back. I got my first harvest job in a top Californian winery because I was an Irish ex-jockey and they had a sense of humour.

Which region (outside the UK) produces the best wine?

Taking consistency out of the question, Burgundy is my Mecca.

What type of restaurant would you open and what would you call it?

Clenaghans restaurant in Aghalee was always a favourite, which thankfully has just been reopened. Otherwise I would have said modern Irish cuisine, with traditional Irish music on a Tuesday and Thursday night, and I would call it Clenaghans and base it in Aghalee!

What advice would you give to your younger self?

Take more photographs, because your memory won’t be that good.

What is your favourite job of the day?

I love working in the lab. I find the systematic work engrossing.

What is your worst job of the day?

Meetings that could have been emails.

What is your winemaking style?

I like to be adaptable. You can’t force a grape to turn into a wine it is not capable of becoming, but you can guide it throughout the process to turn it into a style of wine you want.

What is one of your favourite varietals to work with?

Chardonnay is so versatile and can be amazing in many forms – cool climate, warm climate, oaked, unoaked, lees aged and bâtonnage or not, MLF or not, bottle aged or young, still or sparkling. It’s a fantastic grape to work with, especially once you start getting your head around the different clones.

Do you have a favourite wine or vintage you have made?

I have not had a vintage where I have not enjoyed making the wine. I try and be as meticulous as possible in the planning and logistics of harvest so I can give myself time to think, and this definitely helps take the stress out of it, even in difficult years.

What is the most memorable wine you’ve tasted?

A Petrus 1967, which I bought with a friend. It is only the most memorable because it took a large part of a student loan to buy but the quality was not that high so we have questioned whether it was real ever since.

Which wines / winemakers have you found inspiration from?

Pascal Ribéreau-Gayon because of his ability to educate in wine science and its practical application.

Still or sparkling?

I couldn’t choose. I love the delicacy and technicality of sparkling wine making, but I also really enjoy the more instant rewards from still winemaking.

Corks or screw caps?

I’d like to say cork because it is an incredible material which can’t be replicated synthetically, and there are huge environmental and social benefits in using it. However, as it currently stands the consistency of screw caps along with the range of permeability levels now available, make screw caps more favourable for most wine styles.

Who would you invite to a dinner party, dead or alive?

Donald Trump, Jancis Joplin, Oliver Reed, Judi Dench, Winston Churchill, Pablo Escobar and Lester Piggott.

What wine would you take to that dinner party?

I’d go back in time and try and palm that 1967 Petrus off!

If you weren’t working in wine what would you be doing?

A farrier. As a group of five lads that used to spend a lot of time together, one has become a trainer, one has become a winemaker and the other three have become farriers.

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