Tag: single vineyard wines

Mar 03 2012

Single Vineyard Perfection: A Brief History

Posted on March 03, 2012 | By merrill@cellarit.com

If you’re want to understand the importance of single vineyard wines, a look at the history of winemaking in Burgundy is the best place to start. No other region in the world has studied more closely how grapes perform in different terroirs. Indeed the very concept of terroir – the idea that the micro-climate, soil characteristics, exposure and orientation of each particular site determine the character of the wine – originated in Burgundy.

As the Burghound.com’s Allen Meadows explained at the Melbourne Food and Wine Festival Masterclass Single Vineyard Perfection, the Catholic religious orders, who managed the Burgundian vineyards from about 600 AD up to the end of the 18th century, noticed that different plots created wines with unique personalities. They believed that these individual expressions were in fact celebrating messages from God. (Meadows also noted that the idea of a single grape variety for a single vineyard came about because the monks didn’t want to muddle God’s message!)

In medieval times the Cistercian Order classified the best vineyard sites of Burgundy’s famous golden slope, the Côte d’Or, laying the foundation for the current classification of five levels, ranging from Grand Crus (only 2% of the Côte d’Or vineyards) at the top of the pyramid to the regional and sub-regional appellations at the bottom.

Today the classification system in Burgundy is firmly entrenched and unlike Bordeaux, where the wines are classified according to the reputation of the producer, the hierarchy in Burgundy is still geographically based. The Grand Crus Côte de Beaune vineyard of Montrachet, for example, is still widely considered the best vineyard in the world for chardonnay. The almost 8 hectare (19 acres) vineyard is home to 18 owners and 26 producers!

In recent years Australian and other New World producers have embraced the idea of single … Read the rest

Feb 02 2012

What makes ‘single vineyard’ wine so special?

Posted on February 02, 2012 | By merrill@cellarit.com

In a recent article on the Henschke Hill of Grace Shiraz, the Wine Advocate’s Lisa Perrotti-Brown gives a great deal of thought to the definition of a ‘single vineyard’. She asks “Is there a limit on how big it can be? Is there an implied uniformity of terroir and vine in these words, and to what extent is that even possible?” She argues that “when taken to its ultimate extreme, the words ‘single vineyard’ should conjure images of miniscule parcels of near mono-geological turfs that have long been married to a single varietal soul-mate, perhaps Romanee-Conti (1.8 ha), Le Montrachet (8 ha) or Clos Sainte Hune (1.67 ha).” (Henschke Hill of Grace: Australia’s Greatest Single Vineyard Wine? by Lisa Perrotti-Brown, eRobertParker.com, 6 February 2012)

But whatever the size of the vineyard or the number of distinct blocks of varying soils, vine ages and varieties (the Hill of Grace Vineyard consists of 8 blocks between a half and one hectare in size), Perrotti-Brown argues that a wine should only be classified as a ‘single vineyard’ wine if it represents a “thoughtfully delineated example of elevated quality that stands apart from that which surrounding vineyards can achieve and expresses something, well, singular.”

The custodians of world’s greatest single vineyard wines certainly devote a great deal of time and attention to yielding the best results from their single vineyards no matter their size.  Aubert de Villaine of Domaine de la Romanée-Conti (DRC), for example, converted his vineyards to organic in 1986 and more recently biodynamic, because he believes that making wine as naturally as possible is the best way to express the nuances of his fabled terroir. (see Domaine de la Romanée-Conti: The Quintessential Expression of Terroir by Merrill Witt, Cellarit Wine Blog, 12 May 2011)

Perrotti-Brown notes that fifth … Read the rest