MICHAEL FRIDJHON: The winemaker's aesthetic vision is not always obvious
No vintage is the same so success is never absolute, but rather a reflection of the best possible
Really serious producers never pretend that they have achieved their idea of perfection. No vintage is the same so success is never absolute, but rather a reflection of the best possible, given the weather, the constraints of cellar space, the evolution of the winemaker's aesthetic vision. Ideas about palate weight, fruit ripeness, use of wood are never immovable. They are also vintage dependent — bigger fruit weight can manage more new wood; lighter berries might profit from a longer pre-fermentation maceration. Then there is the matter of vinous fashion. For a very long time, almost all winemaking was oxidative rather than reductive. In other words, the fermenting fruit had unprotected exposure to oxygen and acquired a stable but quite evolved style almost from the outset. This presented as a range of aromatics closer to the sherry than the fruit side of the spectrum. Cold fermentation, closed tanks, sulphur dioxide and commercial yeasts changed all this. Aromatics — especially in...