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Prestige (Singapore) - - TALK -

zones of Aus­tralia where sugar ripen­ing and al­co­hol fre­quently out­pace the ripen­ing of the grape’s phys­i­o­log­i­cal makeup.

While wines made to this coda still ex­ist, the zeit­geist has shifted, as our con­ver­sa­tion at­tested. The less-is-more ap­proach of­ten cham­pi­ons cooler sites, lower al­co­hols and less wine­mak­ing in­ter­ven­tion, be it in the use of oak, or oth­er­wise. The or­ganic-cum-bio­dy­namic niche, man­i­fest too in the more left-of-cen­tre “nat­u­ral” cat­e­gory, takes this ap­proach to its end point whereby wine­mak­ing is al­most dis­cour­aged com­pletely. Clearly, this ap­proach par­lays well with the cur­rent fash­ion for or­ganic pro­duce and ar­ti­sanal pro­duc­tion, steeped in the story of prove­nance.

The trend of a gen­tler ap­proach to turn­ing grapes into wine, no mat­ter what it is called, is a means to elab­o­rate on the story of ter­roir told in a dif­fer­ent light. But just as ex­ces­sive wine­mak­ing ob­fus­cates the voice of the vine­yard, poor wine­mak­ing un­der the ban­ner of min­i­mal­ism serves to do the same thing. The hand of the wine­maker is just as per­ceiv­able in ei­ther case; the former be­cause of the wine­maker’s am­bi­tion, the lat­ter due to his hap­less­ness.

As for the age of the wine­maker be­ing a thing of the past, I’m not sure I agree. The na­ture of wine­mak­ing has be­come softer, more ju­di­cious, less about mak­ing a strong im­pact on the en­su­ing wine and more about al­low­ing it to serve as a con­duit for the ex­pres­sion of ter­roir.

There are plenty of lauded wine­mak­ers of­fer­ing small vol­umes of gen­tler wines. Their rep­u­ta­tion is based on quirkier points of dif­fer­en­ti­a­tion and the cult of per­son­al­ity, how­ever, rather than the ap­pli­ca­tion of an ar­se­nal of wine­mak­ing tools and the thick wines that re­sult. Jean Foil­lard in Mor­gon, for ex­am­ple, is known for highly in­di­vid­ual in­ter­pre­ta­tions of the great granitic cru, Côte du Py.

More dy­namic, and even more cultish, is Raúl Pérez. In his na­tive Spain, Perez has trans­formed the lan­guish­ing im­age of Al­bar­iño across dif­fer­ent sites, re­dis­cov­ered for­got­ten indige­nous grape va­ri­eties of Gali­cia and plied his ju­di­cious hand across a num­ber of col­lab­o­ra­tive op­er­a­tions, from larger vol­ume projects mak­ing qual­ity at an agree­able price point to mi­nus­cule quan­ti­ties of site-spe­cific wines made from the in­creas­ingly fash­ion­able Mencía grape.

The nu­ances, en­ergy and joy­ful drink­a­bil­ity of these are a case in point that the best wines come from the best wine­mak­ers, no mat­ter whether their ap­proach is more con­ven­tional or of the min­i­mal­ist ilk. What is cer­tain, too, is that a gen­tler ap­proach in the win­ery is in­creas­ingly re­spon­si­ble for a slew of de­li­cious wines. The choice is ours!


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