Walkin’ on the Wild Side – A View on Space-Time-Wine

Most winemaking has taken the basis of “terroir” (a.k.a. space-time-wine), fermented it, stripped it, blended it, filtered it and marketed it, until it resembles something more akin to a McCheese Shake & McFries (often drizzled in McChocolate hot sauce for the fancy folk). Everything that defines a sense of space and time has been thrown out the window of a space-ship that’s sailing into the abyss. Very dramatic.  The majority of wines no longer resemble the meso-climate, soil geology, vineyard aspect, native micro-flora and seasonal weather conditions. The ever reaching hand of man dominates and over-powers any possible sense of authentic space-time in the wine. The result is mundane consistency. And where’s the fun in consistency? Please, the thrill of surprises. Drinking the sweet nectar of complexity in one bottle and then the questions raised by sour piss in the next. Life in a bottle. Without the sour piss, everything is a bottle of sour piss. Some Buddhist idea about duality I think. Of course if you are making claims of being a great maker of McCheese Burgers then no worries, all power to you. The grinding of gears occurs as most people make unsubstantiated claims on “terroir”, or “authenticity”, or even “typicity” as some wankers (sorry, professional wine connoisseurs) tag certain wines. The only thing these wines are usually typical of is an industrialised wine culture. Endless bottles of humdrum.


The key to unlocking space-time-wines are the native micro-flora (i.e. yeasts, bacteria) that exist on the vine, grape surfaces and in the atmosphere.  The essential life-force link between the grape and the wine. A movement away from authenticity occurs as soon as nasty chemicals are sprayed in the vineyard. The population dynamics of native microbes in any environment are constantly in flux and seasonal weather conditions play a large role. Covering the vines in copper and sulphur (or one of those potions Big Ag has manufactured) most definitely alters both the species composition and population numbers of yeast and bacteria. Then you have the initial steps in modern winemaking. Sulphur dioxide is generally added to suppress populations of unwanted microbes and then the musts (usually after some fining) are inoculated with foreign yeast strains to ensure reliable fermentation dynamics with “desirable” organoleptic characteristics. Suddenly multiple pillar’s of a wine’s space-time have been shattered. The GPS in our inter-galactic spacecraft has malfunctioned  and most of our wines are caught in a never-ending orbit around some far off and obscure planet. Calling Major Tom. 


A large part of what we’ve been doing with our vineyard management and winemaking has been, as far as possible, to let our vineyard’s place in space and the season’s weather conditions express themselves. Obviously viticulture and enology are cultural phenomenons, it is impossible to escape human intervention. Maybe the majority of mundane wines are just a sign of the times. Although times are always a changin’, and authentic space-time-wine calls. Making wines with minimal intervention should be the highest aim of any vigneron or winemaker. Unless you’re making Cheeseburgers, then carry on. However “authenticity” is quite the blurry line. We’ve taken the first step by not spraying any form of fungicide, pesticide or herbicide in our vineyard. We substitute a “treating the symptoms” approach with a proactive regime of nutrition, biodynamic preparations and aligning our vineyard with cosmic rhythms. Although no herbicides or soil cultivation resulted in a shitload of whippin’ the snipper under the vine. And no fungicide sprays meant being under pressure with timely and regular biodynamic and nutritive sprays. On top of this we began having in depth conversations with our vines. We chat about the weather, planetary positions and what not.


Surprisingly, with the absence of chemical cocktails and a little chat, our vineyard has held up quite well in a year with well above average rainfall and high mildew and rot pressure. In the winery, no sulphur is added to the must and spontaneous ferments are allowed to proceed. All our ferments thus far have taken off within a couple of days and have finished alcoholic fermentation within 5-10 days time. We also haven’t used any temperature control, truly wild. But, most importantly the wines look good – no fining or filtering required. We’ve made the assumption that eliminating heavy chemical use in the vineyard and optimising nutrition has allowed for healthy microbial populations and healthy vines to develop and thus allowed healthy ferments to proceed. Along with no fining or filtering, no acid additions or the like, sweet nectar or sour piss, our wines should have a very high degree of “typicity” and be an authentic representation of their place in space and time. And the inescapable direction of our busy hands. Which also exist in this space-time conundrum. Go figure.


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Jackie & Elliott Paradoxa


First generation farmers who believe that soil health & nutrition is not only important but also very cool. Our minimalist philosophy carries from our feet on the earth, through our hearts and to our vines.

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