MICHAEL FRIDJHON: Great wines come in different shapes and sizes
Small batches don’t necessarily mean handcrafted, while big batches don’t imply industrial carelessness
It’s become fashionable, not only in SA, to assume that wines produced in tiny quantities are necessarily better than those made in greater volumes. The logic appears unassailable. If a winery makes 1-million cases a year, it’s unlikely to be able to hand-craft its production. A cellar whose annual yield is 10,000 cases can market itself by saying the grapes were hand-sorted, every barrel was inspected before purchase, and every wine/cuvée/product is the artefact of a single site, the purest expression of terroir.
Of course, not all small producers can defend these assertions — and to be fair, the claims are generally implicit, rather than overt. Many wineries are simply small because their owners lack the capacity or interest to expand. It’s better to sell what you produce at the price-point that meets your marketing objectives than to climb onto the treadmill of big volumes, big distribution and big business funding.