The Diversity of a Grape


There's a reason I don't put grape varieties on the front label. They don't matter that much, and they largely lead to missing the point.

It's missing the forest for a tree.

Something cool to do when you're learning about a new grape is to try it from different regions; take Nero D'Avola, try something from Sicily, try it from Australia, try a classic example of both, then try a more out there example from each. You'll see what it can do. There is absolutely a distinct flavour profile to any grape, but that's a lot broader than you'd think. Just look at the ripening process, it starts as a tiny ball of acid and not much else, as it ripens it develops it's flavour as it loses acid and gains sugar. The ratio of what it loses, whilst it's developing will not be the same on two different vineyards.

You can tell a lot about a winemaker just based on when they choose to pick. It's one of the biggest decisions, and will determine the flavour profile that they're going to make every effort to preserve from there on out.

Then look at what happens in the winery; you can preserve or build on; or if you're mentally challenged you can alter.

If you're making Riesling, you can innoculate and run a very cold ferment, and turn out a fruity and floral wine. Or you forgo temperature control, maybe leave in a skins for a little while; and it still bares the same name of Riesling, but it's not the same animal as the other. Austere and powerful, savoury and minerally. It still could have only come from one place on this earth, either way it could be a great wine, but it's different.

If that much is obvious, the next is where I'll lose you:

These wines, all of which are Pinot Noir, some of which are 60 to 70 years old, can still show youthful characters.

Pinot Noir is not to meant to age. One of the best wines I tried last year was a Vosne Romanee 1927. It wasn't just good as a novelty; it was still a spectacularly great wine.

Pinot Noir is not built to age, and as remarkable as some of these Burgundy vineyards are, they're still using the same vines we are.

For someone like me whose whole life is wine, it'll break your brain trying to understand the impossibility of that. My honest belief, with the benefit of hindsight, is that it largely comes down to how the vine and the grape, and the wine were treated. There are still structural elements to what will make a vine age: acid, tannin, alcohol, sugar. But that's just the tip of the iceberg.

I guess that's the point I'm trying to make; the sheer diversity of what a grape can do, so greatly exceeds our understanding.

At a certain point, the most intellectual way of describing a great wine is to just stand there and drool. Care in the winery is pretty much the same; just respect it.

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aaron@crotherswine.com.au

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