Who's the Driver at Dry River >

2008
Who's the Driver at Dry River

There is a common perception that fine or great wines are the product of inspiration and great flair, from a winemaker. That the winemaker looks at the sky and looks at the grapes… “I think we need to do this” … or “this” and yet another brilliant creation ultimately emerges from the tonnes of crop which has been delivered to the winery receival bay. Obviously it cannot be this simple. Traditions of truly great wines are almost inevitably situated in the Old World and so many of these are from sites which have evolved to this level of quality over hundreds of years. While we are forced to accept that these sites are very special, we also have to acknowledge that the evolution of viticultural and winemaking practices
for exploiting and optimising the particular qualities and style of their fruit is also of critical importance. Traditions, the practice of passing down the way of doing things through generations, have been essential for this to happen and hopefully the best regions and sites in the New World also will learn to adapt their own practices to their sites and offer alternatives to the very best of the Old World in years to come. I trust that these wines will evolve to be faithful interpretations of their own terroir rather than imitations of the product of these Old World vineyards!
Our wines have been well received from the first vintages but I have no doubt that, vintage variations aside, it is possible to see a slow but sure progression in quality and cellaring potential over the years following that first commercial vintage in 1984. This is attributable to a progression in our understanding of the fruit from our sites and to vine age. We started from the very simple philosophical stance of looking for purity and full expression of varietal flavours in the fruit and attempting to understand how best to preserve these through the winemaking processes to bottling. In addition, the requirements for cellaring potential required harvesting our fruit with ripe, neutral flavoured phenolics to provide structure for the wines without the unripe green characters (a consequence of our maritime climate) which interfere with perception of the pure varietal flavours we are trying to preserve. Since our wines evolve slowly – over a number of years – the understanding and evolution of our winery and field practices has also been necessarily slow. Combine this factor with the multitude of variables involved and it is easy to see that quick and easy answers for producing the perfect wine are the stuff of dreams – progress can be expected to be built on over decades rather than via dramatic revelations vintage to vintage.

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