19 Nov On the Shoulders of Giants – Golden Harvest
I came across this quotation thanks to Humberto Eco and was recently reminded of it by Stephen Hawkin’s book. Attributed to Newton (though it was documented five centuries earlier by John of Salisbury), it refers to the advances in science. Applicable to many disciplines, I now borrow it to entitle this story.
My first approach to wines made with botrytized grapes was with the famous Sémillon variety in Sauternes, at the launching of one of the the appellation’s new harvests. It was a feast of flavors and sweet textures. Later, it was the turn of the delicate balance of sweetness and acidity shown by the great BA and TBA Rieslings, closer to my taste, I would say. But the wines that blew my mind were those from Tokaj. What undoubtedly contributed to building this perception was the possibility to travel to Tokaj with Gregorio de Tarczal, one of its producer and my friend, sharing his effort for producing Tokaji in his old family vineyards, lost during the revolution and gained back through the Hungarian government by mid-2000s.
What an experience it was to meet such a distant and little-known culture with its unique language, different from all others! Located in an area bordering Ukraine and Slovakia, its houses are dug as caves in the Tufo rock and its barrels made by former Italian immigrant coopers. Its two rivers (Tiza and Bodrog) converge with their different temperatures, thus contributing to form the fog that rots the Furmint and Harslevelÿ grapes; understanding the system to measure the degree of sweetness in puttonyos, meaning the wooden baskets filled with 25 kg of botrytized grapes (Aszú), etc.
And when I mistakenly thought I knew or had tasted almost everything, someone put the first Morandé Golden Harvest on the table at my civil marriage. What a subtle detail of a gentle giant! Originated in Casablanca, vintage 2000, that bottle made me think of the endless possibilities of producing wines using 100% botrytized grapes in Chile, destemmed by hand, that reflected -like no other- the morning fogs of the Pacific Ocean and the young culture of our country and that of its people.
All in all, with its differences and virtues, finding reminiscences of these historical wines in our Golden Harvest was a beautiful discovery. The most aromatic but also the most delicate Sauvignon Blanc benefited considerably from the noble rotting process, making it more complex by gaining both in sweetness and acidity. They all share a character of honey, dried fruits, ripe apricots, nuts, and a slight note of bee-wax.
A wine dreamed of and made real when conditions are optimal, like in 2000 and 2007. And so I get on the shoulders of those giants in 2013 to participate of this alchemy, driven by the passion of making a great wine of this kind.
Winemaker at Viña Morandé