Wherever I have worked, be it Burgundy or Sardinia, the best wines, the wines that I have most highly revered, the truly awe inspiring beasties that have caused goose bumps after a sniff and a taste have all come from vineyards that have had a number of things in common. These commonalities form the foundation of my beliefs.
I believe the best wines come from vineyards that possess the following attributes:
I have long felt that irrigation is an insidious evil in the ‘New World’ that blasphemes against the age old concept of terroir and guarantees being sentenced to a life in the bar coded commodity and price driven zone of the supermarket aisle. Irrigation dilutes character, denies expression and destroys the soul of the site. There is no doubt to me that a dry tap is the foundation of site expression. Does the site have something to say? Turn off the tap and turn up the volume!
Personally, the whole point of winemaking is to try and capture a particular place as sympathetically and as expressively as possible. There are two truly unique things in a bottle of wine: Your soul and your site. So it makes sense that you would treat your site as you would your own child. Your site will always be the limit of what you can achieve and express so why kill your soil with herbicides? Or impact on your vines natural resistance with systemic fungicides? Treat your vineyard as if it is part of yourself. Feed your soil…feed your soul.
Fruit that is harvested and arrives at the winery requiring no extraneous additions such as sugar or acid. If a fundamental change to the chemistry of the fruit is required year in and year out then surely either the wine style and/or the grape variety is in the wrong place. The ‘greats’ of this world were established long before an irrigation line or a sack of acid could ‘fix’ a mistake.
The chance to receive fruit from a vineyard that is both dry grown and organically managed and that requires no chemical ‘adjustment’ is winemaking nirvana. There is the chance to make something authentic, true and expressive. Before a wine can be great, it must first be ‘true’.