There are no absolutes when it comes to style in wine: the way different producers handle the same cultivar is clearly not only a response to the quality of the fruit. The winemaker’s own aesthetic sense, the economics of production and, of course, vinous fashion all play a role. That said, it would be unwise for even the most confident cellarmaster to disregard the flavour profile of the grapes arriving at the cellar.

Take an estate such as De Wetshof, which has vast tracts of chardonnay vineyards of varying ages spread across a number of different sites. While the more premium wines tend to come from the same or similar vineyards year in, year out, making the decision about which wines to barrel-ferment or barrel-mature is not automatic: no serious producer slavishly follows a recipe simply because it’s been in the family for generations...

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