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What is in a name?

When listening to wine makers, wine drinkers and the wine speaking community phrases like “Boutique”, “Reserve”, “Private Cellar”, “Single Barrel” and a few more get thrown around like ABC’s in pre-school.  But do they really mean anything and if so what?

Most of these terms are used to distinguish a wine from the next producer’s by giving the perceived quality an air of gravitas by hinting at its exclusivity.  But what is exclusive for one producer might equal another’s yearly production.  So be careful when feeling a need to be impressed by these terms.  It might just be the remnants from last year’s leftover barrel that had to find a market.  Exclusive does not always translate into quality.

Fromeatboutique.com/2010/03/17/what-is-a-boutique-wine/Boutique Wines can be seen as “small production”, “artisanal” or even “cult”. Perhaps boutique is more a state of mind than a number of bottles. It’s more of an attitude than a location. Of course, this makes discovering boutique wines a bit more difficult.

At Taillard Family Wines, boutique also conjures up the image of exclusivity, unique experiences and ultimately, quality. Being a boutique (as in specialised and exclusive, not expensive) wine producer, Taillard Family Wines would fall within the “state of mind” category. Even though their production numbers already qualify them, their wines are designed for and marketed to individuals who enjoy well made, exceptional wines at an accessible price point. All their wines are pressed to a maximum of about 650l of juice per ton, ensuring that only the best juice is used.  It can be likened to the difference between normal olive oil, and virgin olive oil (with us being the Virgins).  But where they really stand out in their boutique-ness is in their customer service.

“We love getting to know our customers, interacting with them, sharing stories and experiences and seeing them time after time at our events, enjoying their time and our wines. We sell a feast of the senses where everything is in balance.  The branding, the taste, the stories, right through to the braille on the bottles, all have a part to play, in the enjoyment of our wines.  We want people to feel free to have an opinion about what they experience and to discover their favourites and be confident in their preferences”, says AneliseTaljaard.

Having made peace with being a boutique producer, they also decided to venture into the “Premier Market”.  Even the words suggest something BIG, BOLD, AWESOME and EXPENSIVE.  In our world this phrase is so generic that not even Wikipedia could bring up an answer, but at Taillard Family Wines, it refers to the Best of the Best.  Contrary to popular belief, this is not where the money is made, but rather a platform designed to brag – big time.

This is where the winemaker is given free rein to go all out and show the world what can be done when all the conditions for making the perfect wine, in small quantities, is given the necessary attention (read: time and money). This process starts when the vineyards are prepared towards the end of winter.  All shoots are only allowed to carry one bunch of grapes, ensuring concentrated and complex berries.  Hand picking the grapes and pressing them only to extract 600l of juice per ton and then tempering their robustness with time spent in oak barrels, all contribute to the joy that is a Premier Wine.  This is when the Taillard Family Wines go from virgin to extra virgin.  Now that is real exclusivity!

Next time when hearing a term aimed at making you sit up, take notice, and being enticed to regard a wine, ask the winemaker what exactly went into earning the right to distinguish their wine from others in the market.  Then taste it, and make up your own mind.

WTM Africa 2020