Updated: May 12
I was sitting in a very hip and trendy local curb-side coffee shop the other day planning my week, just aware of the music in the background when I could not help to overhear the conversation at the table next to me. It must have been friends meeting after they haven’t seen each other for a long time. After a hug and a hello, one of them smiles and says, “You age like a fine wine.”
Now a lot of us who earn our daily bread from working with wine, probably know that the Ancient Greeks and Romans were already back then aware of the potential of aged wines. In Greece, early examples of dried straw wines were noted for their ability to age due to their high sugar content. These wines were stored in sealed earthenware amphorae and kept for many years. In Rome, the most sought-after wines were prized for their ability to age for decades. Old wine was valued over new wine.
What is a fine wine, I think by myself, as the two friends at the table next to me chat away. There might be a multitude of definitions here and this might differ from winemaker to writer to viticulturist to wine lover. But without complicating things too much, let’s go with something simple like a really good wine. Because fine wine comes from nature, success is not guaranteed, a fine wine is made distinctive by its terroir, it has craftsmanship, patience, history, and quality saturated into its grapes. It might not have that youthful, light texture that swirls so easily around a glass, but a fine wine requires a bold palate and a wholesome appreciation. The best part about fine wines is that they become more valuable over time.
We usually insist on drinking the latest young whites, minutes after it has been harvested and bottled, the hype of that first taste, the promise of the others to come is what we enjoy the most, but our Blokhuis Grenache Blanc is our reflection of the value of time. We've learned so much from this thirty-something-year-old single vineyard Grenache Blanc block at the top of the Piekenierskloof Pass, it has reignited our love for terroir at a time when we spent most of our hours in the office, it changed the way we think about packaging and it (for the umpteenth time) encored my dad's wise words that "all good things come to those who wait".
A lot of care is taken with these grapes, it is picked, sorted, and pressed all by hand, the fermentation is done in a single French oak barrel and after fermentation, it is racked and matured in that same barrel for nearly one year whereafter it is bottled and aged till the perfect moment when it is released. For the 2018 vintage, this was the beginning of 2023, if this is not patience (for two truly impatient people) I don’t know, but so worth the wait.
By this time my blueprint plan for the week is finished, but me pondering the saying – you age like a fine wine – not so much. Improving quality over time distinguishes wine from most other consumable goods. A fine wine’s value rises as months pass. And that is the crux of this matter.
Unlike most other things in life which get worse with age, saying someone ages like fine wine are to say they get better over time. It means something more profound than just beautiful skin or a healthy weight. It’s validating that aging is a natural and irreversible and beautiful phenomenon.
“You age like a fine wine.” What a compliment!
Till next time.