Wine by design? Our 5 taste questions

I will be in Cardan very soon and I was almost tempted to wait until I got there before writing this week’s blog. Then I remembered that the passion of being back in Paradise will very quickly engulf me and the short time of the visit will be gone. And of course there will be plenty more activity to report next week, so I think it is best to get started on this week’s topic – Wine by design?

Next week will be another one of those fun but critical weeks for Paradise Rescued as we decide our strategy for the Hourcat Centre block. We will in effect start to design the future wine that we want from that terroir. I listen only too often to “wine lovers” how they believe that you simply plant some vines like garden vegetables, wait a few years and then see if you selected the right land, vines and winery techniques! We can and we will do better than that. This is not a game of luck!

One of Dr. Stephen Covey famous 7 Habits (of Highly Successful People) is “Begin with the end in mind” and that’s where I will try and base this blog. What sort of wine do we want? I think there are five critical topics to address (I am sure a Master of Wine would find more!)

  1. Appearance. What do we want our wine to look like? Particularly as merlot will be at the core of the wine, how can we develop a really inviting colour that catches the drinker’s eye and invites her / him to want to taste the fruit within?
  2. Nose and first impressions. I often call this the “attack” It is the moment when the taster first gets a real impression of what the wine is like. How often are we put off by that first moment of disappointment or how often do we comment “gorgeous nose” or “beautiful aroma” when we have that first sniff. If it’s a red wine, we love that blackcurrant, blackberry or maybe even that slightly oak complexity?
  3. The body of a wine is its heart. This is where we get to taste the real character of the wine. It is light or full bodied. Alcohol levels and oak maturation can also play a key role here in determining that taste. Too much of both and you can end up with a monster. Was the fruit nicely ripe or was it green. Almost every decision in the vineyard and winery comes together at this point.
  4. Possibly the most critical part of a wine is the aftertaste! Are the tannins soft or young or astringent? Does it have the right level of acidity – too high and it is hard to drink, too low and it is fruit juice. How long does the taste linger after you have swallowed and is it pleasant? This is also the point where the real quality of a wine shows.
  5. The final question to be answered is how long do you want the wine to last for? If you want the wine to age a while, do the fruit and tannins have the strength to do that and will it all come together at that time? Are there really a lot of benefits to ageing – great wine can also be drunk young?

 We won’t have all the answers by next Friday! But we will have a direction. And yes some things do emerge over time as we work with and find the optimum balance between nature and the terroir. In the meantime, please click on the YouTube video image above to see what our 2010 #Cloud9 #CabFranc tastes like. Cheers!

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