Creation Wines and the Art of Chardonnay

More thoughts on the problematic analogy of wine to art; with a hopefully constructive correction to the narrative.

What makes a bottle of Chardonnay worth R1000? or R400?

How could that wine possibly be 260%- or even 700% better than a chardie at R150.00?

I mean what are the costs here?

f you’re a sincere wine drinker who finds themselves asking these questions, I cannot overstate the need for you to spend some time in the Creation Tasting room, perched atop the Hemel-en-Aarde ridge.
Their team has a rare ability to articulate and unpack exactly why each of their Chardonnays falls into the tier that it does. Listening to these ideas will not only give you an appreciation for their winemaking and viticultural processes, but will also take you on a journey into the *philosophy* of winemaking – the ability to express ideas about the world through the medium of wine. At this point, winemaking transcends farming and manufacturing; it becomes something that stimulates the mind as much as it stimulates the senses. It becomes art, but unfortunately the concept of wine as art has attracted an unavoidable triteness, which leaves me wanting to elaborate on the idea.
The “wine is art” idea usually follows a train of thought that says, “this wine has such aesthetic appeal that it’s value is no longer associated with components, but rather with it’s aesthetics.” As I’ve said elsewhere, this idea is not wrong, but it’s also not right. Or at least, it doesn’t completely convey what’s going on with a wine like Creation’s Art of Chardonnay. Or their Reserve Chard for that matter.
For me, the shift in emphasis from finding value in a wine’s ingredients, to finding value in a wine’s achieved aesthetic is only one step in a two-step process towards…art (though the term still doesn’t sit well with me). The second step involves a shift in value from the sensory properties of the wine outward into the very philosophy of the winemaker, and an appreciation for the ideas that formed the wine in front of you.

“…the shift in emphasis from …the value of a wine’s ingredients, to the value of a wine’s  aesthetic is only one step in a TWO-step phase…

The Philosophy of Chardonnay

This second level of appreciation is almost never expressed in a blind tasting. One might say it is a subjective pleasure, rather than objective. It cannot be proven; instead it is simply felt. And in the same way that, “revelation” is far more elusive than mere “explanation”, the felt connection is rarer, and less predictable, but always deeper and more profound than an expression of value through:
(1) the value of ingredients at a base level, or
(2) the value of sensory pleasure at an intermediary level.
Perhaps that third level is better expressed as – in this instance – the philosophy of Chardonnay.

But I believe in Science…

For those of you who have no patience for this horrendously nebulous, seemingly unfalsifiable theory on the nature of pleasure, and therefore value, neuroscience has plenty to say about the ability for information to enhance (or detract) from sensory pleasure.
The data clearly shows that what we believe to be true about a product not only affects subjective experience of that product, but even has the power to shift how our bodies physiologically respond to said product.
Put another way, science says that taking time to understand a winemakers philosophy will have a measurable affect on your perceived value of the wine concerned; for better or worse.

Seeing is understanding…and belief is beyond that

And is this all pretentious bullshit? Well… heck…it might be. BUT you’ll never know for sure until you go and see, taste, smell, and *listen* for yourself. And there are a lot of pontificators that should quite rightly be ignored (I may well be one of them), but Creation, with its grand vision for even grander themes is certainly not one of them.
“And what of the wines?!” you might rightly ask. Well, this is not the place to discuss wine scores, which invariably operate at that intermediary level of sensory stimulation. Rather, the point of this piece is to highlight a producer who thinks deeply about their setting, and their craft, and who are worth listening to.
So go and see them for yourself, and regardless of which wine you like best, you will leave with a far deeper understanding of the extrinsic value of wine and it’s potential to bring pleasure far beyond your five senses.

Three Chardonnays that will stimulate your mind

#262 Cape of Good Hope Serruria Chardonnay 2020

watch video

#257 Sutherland Elgin Chardonnay 2020

watch video

#192 Elgin Ridge 282 Chardonnay 2017

watch video