Showcasing top-notch wines creates a unique opportunity for us to enjoy specific plots and seasons, writes Toni Paterson.
Single-vineyard wines, as the term implies, are made from a specific patch of land. The volumes are limited, so they are often in short supply.
When a winery produces a wine under a single-vineyard label, the grapes will come from the same single plot each time the wine is bottled under that name. This is quite a different process to a small winery making a wine from select parcels of grapes sourced from different parts of its estate.
Single-vineyard wines generally arise because a particular vineyard shows itself to have a high-quality, unique flavour profile and a balance that negates the need to blend with another parcel of wine. Sometimes this is because of the age of the vines, the particular clones planted, the unique microclimate or soil of the vineyard, or the sum of all those factors.
Australia’s most famous singlevineyard wine is arguably Henschke’s Hill of Grace, produced from a single 4ha plot of land in South Australia’s Eden Valley. There, the old, gnarly dry-grown vines produce a very concentrated and characteristic shiraz.
Hill of Grace is a rare and incredibly expensive wine because the quality is high and the volume is limited. It has a special character, and its taste is a snapshot in time, reflective of the season in which it was grown.
That’s what makes single-vineyard wines so fascinating. Sometimes, particularly in poor vintages, they’re not the most seamless, complete or flawless wines (which explains why they’re not produced every year).
But in great vintages, they can be all of the above and more. This variability makes them so absorbing, and their personalities so captivating. These wines stimulate the mind as well as the tastebuds, so they’re all the more satisfying to drink.