Place, terroir, provenance — the vinous equivalent of location, location and location — are supposed to be the gold standard of high-end wine. Yes, some ultrapremium brands only loosely comply with the strictures of origin — Penfold’s Grange, Dom Perignon and Opus One come to mind — but these counterexamples are overwhelmed by the countless Lafites, Latours and La Taches of the world.

So it comes closer to heresy than, say, Martin Luther nailing his message to the papacy on the church door in Wittenberg to suggest that by far the most important contributor to the style and quality of the wine in your glass comes from the person who produces and bottles it. While this may not be the most original thought in a wine column anywhere in the world this week, it’s not without relevance...

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