In this piece, we explore what it is that makes an extraordinary wine. Is it marketing, history or winemaking savvy? Read on MacDuff to find out.
Marketing – no. A clever, distinctive label doesn’t fool people for long, because the proof of the pudding is in the tasting.
History – yes and no. Much of the Riesling and Burgundy made is still in family hands – knowledge passed down can prove the difference in tough years – but it’s not a prerequisite for quality. For example, there are a number of South African winemakers making extraordinary wines who only have a few years under their belts.
Fruit – yes some grapes are hardy, will grow with less attention and tend to create consistent rather than profound wines. Others – as films like Sideways showed – need more care but have more to reveal.
Vineyard or terroir – yes, but this can make some wines expensive before they get anywhere near a glass, which means you pay more for the plot than great wine necessarily.
Winemaker – yes, while other factors clearly influence what makes extraordinary wine – the winemaker is in a position to have the most profound effect and not purely because she can marshall the other elements the big learning for me as an outsider is extraordinary wine is more like music, film or creativity than simply booze – the canvas is wide and deep and the very best winemakers so subtle in their thinking and approach. Like other creative work, the vision, technique and sensibility of the maker will decide whether the product is average, good or extraordinarily delicious.