How do you poison a Bordeaux Classed Growth?

Richard Boyle - Vin-X Wine Investment BloggerAnswer: Burn a bonfire full of toxic waste!

Chateau Leoville Las Cases Whilst this is a recent true story it simply highlights how sensitive vines can be and more importantly how critical vineyard management is. Fortunately only 6 hectares of Leoville Las Cases were affected by the smoke from Leoville Poyferre. The affected grapes did not ripen further and were vinified separately and in all likelihood will be sent to a distillery so the grand vin won’t be affected. The owner of Leoville Las Cases, Jean-Hubert Delon said “A grape is like a sponge, it can absorb odours”

And that is why you get such variety in the fine wine world. The much abused term, terroir, simply refers to a sense of place that is reflected in the nature and style of the wine. Grapes are affected by sunlight, heat, water, altitude, soil and shade. You cannot alter most of these elements but New World producers are allowed to irrigate, producers in the Rhone use “pudding” stones to reflect heat at night on to their vines, organic and biodynamic producers use natural fertilizers and leaves can be stripped to expose the vines to more sunlight.

Viticulture is much more than planting a vine and sitting back in a deckchair waiting for the grapes to ripen. Investment grade wines may have the best terroir and be made in the vineyard but ultimately it is the skills of the viticulturist combined with the winemaker that make fine wine.