Lush wines are the result of more than just luck


Lush wines are the result of more than just luck

Don’t believe a cellarmaster when they reduce the fruits of their labour to mere chance

Michael Fridjhon

The false modesty of winemakers is the probable reason for a common misapprehension about wine production that runs like this: wines from vineyards that are properly sited and well managed “make themselves”.

I have attended countless presentations where the cellarmaster shrugs his/her shoulders disarmingly and explains that winemaking is a kind of midwife role. By the time the grapes get to the cellar it’s simply about transforming the fruit into the wine that had been waiting in the wings (my apologies for introducing a second metaphor: this has been done to avoid anything more awkward resulting from my sticking to the original one).

This charming fairytale doesn’t survive a moment’s scrutiny: even the simplest, least sophisticated approach to fine wine is the end result of detailed planning, nuanced thinking and seat-of-the-pants decision-making. Consider Jessica Saurwein’s latest (2020) releases: her Hemel-en-Aarde Pinot Noir (Om) is markedly different from her Elandskloof Pinot Noir (Nom). Unlike the latter, which is quite austere, it has weight and fruit sweetness without straying into tutti-frutti territory...

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