Guest Blog by Steph Dutton
I’ve always been very aware of the number of variables attached to any wine by the time it reaches the bottle. Sunshine hours, aspect, viticultural intervention, water supply, the natural variation attached to an individual fleck of soil, yeast choice, atmospheric composition of the cellar, warehouse, vineyard, etc. As I start to make my list of variables, hundreds more flood to my mind. Yeast, fermenter temperature, fermenter shape, the role mother nature plays in the seasoning of a stave, cork, and well…maybe the winemaker’s mood is somehow even reflected in the task at hand on any given day.
For all of the intervention that is possible, sometimes it is the magic of Mother Nature’s randomness and unpredictability that is key. Given all of this, I sometimes wonder how 100 points could ever be used to measure what is inside the bottle. I never look at a painting and declare that it is a “solid 91 out of 100”. I never listen to a piece of vintage music and attach a numerical measure to the chorus. Wine, like fine art, music, and many other creative industries is ever-shifting, slippery, dynamic, and full of quirks and idiosyncrasies.
One last thought that I’ll leave you with. As the years have progressed, I found myself able to appreciate the dollar spend attached to holiday and travel as something that offers returns well after the holiday has finished. Memories almost serve as royalties that continue to be offered up as years and decades pass. Family holidays from yesteryear that shape family conversations 20 years down the track, and international travels as a 20-year-old with girlfriends that we continue to reference in group texts to this day. The holiday may have cost $5K, but it has returned dividends far beyond this as the years have ticked by. The spend was not simply on the time spent away.
Wine does the same. The spend is not depleted at the time of consumption. Rather the returns continue to flow depending on the company, occasion, memories and learnings that it offers. Never again look at the price tag of a bottle in isolation. Play the long-term game.