FOR punters of "authentic wine" the importance of site is paramount. Even though science cannot fully explain why one piece of dirt produces better fruit than another, there is enough empirical evidence to show that over time some vineyards yield quality wines which have a consistent smell and taste. In other words, provenance alone accounts for the uniqueness of the end product. This is why a skilled blind taster, presented with a line-up of 10 vintages each of Romanee-Conti and La Tache, will sort them correctly in terms of origin — even though the two vineyards are 100m apart and the wines are made by the same cellarmaster, in the same winery, from the same varieties, and are aged in casks from the same oak sources and coopers.When SA’s wine of origin laws were promulgated just over 40 years ago the smallest certifiable plot was the estate itself, and for wines to obtain the requisite estate seal the fruit had to be harvested from the demarcated property and vinified on site. (In...

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