MICHAEL FRIDJHON: Style trumps variety in the expert hands of vintners
Once a decision has been made about a preferred type, everything forms part of an artistic plan
Wine quality doesn’t begin in the vineyards, but in the mind of the winemaker: fruit from the same site might be handled in different ways depending on the aesthetic vision of the winemaker. Once a decision has been made about a preferred style of wine, everything, from the choice of vineyard (assuming the winemaker is not constrained by ownership of a property) and variety, to the viticulture, optimum harvest date and how the grapes are processed is part of an artistic plan.
If the producer seeks to make opulent, rich wines he will have to be confident that his vineyards can sustain the fruit as it pushes the outer limit of the ripening process. By the same token, if the winemaker wants to capture edgy zestiness, he needs grapes that can already deliver some varietal character while they are still on the earliest rungs of the ripening ladder...