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Holism in wine 30 May '19

On my recent journey through North America, I had the pleasure of once again meeting exceptional people, each in its own dimension and in such different stages of life.

In any of the cities where I have been I have experienced and shared wines, told and heard stories and, once again, felt that people around the world of wine are, each in its own way, special.

One of the ideas left from this trip is the holistic concept that exists in the production of wines. Aristotle sums up what holism is when he said that “The whole is greater than the simple sum of its parts”. In oenology, I claim that one plus one is not two.

By this I mean that, for the winemaker, it is ideal to be able to count on several different lots, (parts) whether they come from different vineyards, different varieties or have aged in different types of barrels. The winemaker’s thinking is holistic in the cellar. We know that these small parts, when integrated into a single batch, result in a more complete wine, more complex and – of course! - in a sum greater than the simple parts which gave rise to it.

The old world of wine is the greatest example of this. The ancients already planted mixed grape varieties, in the belief that the result of the summation became more profitable for them. Here in the old world, the lot, the blend of grape varieties, is the central theme and we know that brings more complexity to the wines. In the new world, the grape variety itself is even more valued, and the holism of the wine is stuck to the characteristics of the terroir where the same grape variety is planted.

In fact, on both worlds holism is real and the winemaker seeks to create a “all” always greater than the sum of its parts, as defined by the creator of the word in 1926, Jan Smuts.

Hélder Cunha
The wine’s my life