Resonance is a core Creation value. Co-owner Carolyn Martin explains: “In the Tasting Room it means that we constantly strive to create experiences that resonate with our guests, making their visit personal and memorable. In the cellar it is about echoing the sense of place: respecting what Mother Nature provides and enhancing rather than transforming her gifts. What originates in the vineyard resonates in the glass and this is especially true of the terroir-reflective wines in the Creation portfolio.”
So what does resonance have to do with yeast? “We sometimes forget that, like cheese, wine is a microbiological product. The grapes get all the glory, but that isn’t very fair,” says Dr Jamie Goode MW in an article about wild yeast. Wine is a product of fermentation. Tiny yeast cells greedily consume all the sugar, converting the grape juice to wine. All we see of the process is the steady rise of carbon dioxide bubbles in the tank.
Freshly harvested grapes contain pretty much all that is needed to make wine, including wild yeast naturally occurring in the vineyard. While these wild yeasts are regarded by many as a microbial fingerprint unique to each vineyard, fear of unknown flavours imparted and risks of ominous sounding terms like ‘stuck ferment’ result in many winemakers choosing to use commercially developed yeast strains.
Although natural ferments are more risky, when successful, elegant wines are produced with lower alcohol and a distinct sense of place. A shining example is the wild yeast fermentation preferred by Creation Cellarmaster Jean-Claude Martin in making his award-winning Pinot Noir wines. JC believes that “to get a truly site-specific wine, the answer lies in using the ambient yeasts of the grapes from that specific vineyard block”. He does however add a word of caution: it is essential that the grapes are undamaged and of top quality and that the working conditions are ultra-hygienic.
The beauty of ambient yeast is the production of interesting flavours and textures, giving a certain complexity and panache to the Creation Pinot Noir that speaks volumes about the unique Hemel-en-Aarde Ridge terroir. Is this perhaps part of the secret behind Creation cracking the enigma code for great Pinot Noir?