The cart before the horse
When asked how he made his wine, a famous French producer replied: “Taste it first and then, if you like it, I’ll tell you”. His was a very reasonable position which gave preference to the organoleptic qualities of a wine before any ‘ideological’ one and is totally in line with credo of “Good, Clean and Correct” championed years ago by Slow Food’s ‘lider maximo’ Carlo Petrini. “Good” comes first and only after that the rest. However, too often there are some who forget this and say things that, quite frankly, are make little sense. For example, before even pouring a wine into a glass, a producer or salesman may say: “You know, it’s organic and we’re converting to bio-dynamic,” as if this is something that will help make an easier sale. What they seem to imply is that since it is organic, it has to be good and better than other wines that are not. Petrini would probably defined this as “putting the cart before the horse”. And this because while it is a good thing, in fact even important and full of merit, that a wine is the product of sustainable wine growing, what is more important is that the wine has those organoleptic qualities which make it enjoyable and pleasing. In other words, without the brettanomyces being mistaken for the characteristics of the terroir or the volatile acidity overshadowing the aromas that distinguish the varietal or blend. It is a question of enological consistency, one involving those pleasing organoleptic notes which make a wine recognizable and easy to place in its respective category. More precisely, it is an indispensable factor which takes preference over any other consideration. Everything else comes after and is part of the explanation a producer gives on how he was able to make such an interesting wine that so pleasingly represents where it was made. The bottom line is that factors like sustainable wine growing should not be reduced to being a simple sales ploy because this benefits no one and only creates confusion.