Creation Wines celebrates 21st anniversary milestone


IT’S not breaking news that I adore Creation Wines (and wines) and have a long standing love affair with the Hemel en Aarde valley. Therefore I was honoured to be invited to Creation’s 21st birthday celebration in February 2023, and it was as extraordinary as anything and everything else that happens in what co-owner Carolyn Martin calls their little piece of paradise. In this excerpt from her weekly newsletter, she shares how something exceptional has been, well, created.

Carolyn and JC

“A rolling enclave of hills set in an amphitheatre of fynbos-clad mountains with just a few sheep grazing on the land,” she continues. “The great advantages were the ancient soils, no less than eight different kinds, the cooling breezes off the nearby Atlantic Ocean and the orographic effect of the towering Babylonstoren Mountain creating sufficient rainfall.

“The initial challenges were hardly any infrastructure, a remote location, new territory, and establishing a brand from scratch. More recently we also had to contend with government intervention.

“Over the years, with the energy that is Creation and together with our team, our partners, all our stakeholders and especially our clients, we have established:

  • A reputation for world-class Pinot Noir and Chardonnay;
  • A unique identity, culture, provenance and sustainability pathway, all of which are the hallmarks of fine wine;
  • Transformational and innovative wine and wellness food pairing experiences.

“We are committed to listening to our clients, collaborating with leading scientific and academic initiatives in our industry, and using applied science to understand and respond better to nature. Our team and our community are what bind us to this land; we are so very blessed by their support.

“Creation is:

  • Innovation fired by passion;
  • Charisma dancing on the breeze;
  • Authenticity born of the earth;
  • Memories to treasure;
  • Inspiration to shoot for the moon.

“These are our values which I believe have contributed to the many local and international awards we have been honoured to receive. I may just add that these achievements are a credit to the entire Creation team.

“We live and work in one of the most biodiverse regions in the world. I want people to feel the beauty of nature. I want them to see the wonder of the biodiversity of the region. I want them to enjoy the incredible local produce, the exquisite wines, particularly our Chardonnays and Pinot Noirs, and to rest assured that we’re committed to preserving our natural heritage for generations to come.”

On the night of the official party, we were introduced to Professor Gabriel Lepousez (pictured below), a French neuroscientist with a PhD in Neuroscience from the Paris Sorbonne University. “Gabriel is one of the world’s leading neuroscientists and an expert on sensory perception and brain plasticity. He is a wine aficionado and will be working on several scientific projects with our team and researchers from Stellenbosch University,” explains Carolyn. “In short, we intend looking at how we reverse engineer wine compounds such as phenolics and organic acids from viticulture through to the fermentation process. We’ll be looking at the impact of these viti-vinicultural processes on umami taste thresholds in wine, its relevance to wine and food pairing and how it can enhance the wine lover’s experience.”

That there is a lot of science talk, but for us average wine drinkers it will be something to look forward to in future vintages. The good professor presented many fascinating facts about how we taste umami in general but also its presence in wine, while we enjoyed Creation’s current Breathe summer menu. Oh, and that map of your tongue you were taught in school? All rubbish. Which is something I’ve suspected for a long time (after putting salty things on all the parts) so it was pleasing to be vindicated by such an esteemed professor.

Carolyn works tirelessly (as does JC and everyone else at Creation) and you can sign up for those newsletters, and also see more information here. Something I found particularly interesting was how we smell in stereo. From the series of blogs about masterclasses hosted by Gabriel, we learn “At any given moment, you can observe that one nostril is more ‘open’ than the other; the airflow is more intense on one side than the other.

“This asymmetry causes each nostril to be optimally sensitised to different odours. Wherever the airflow is dominant, you may smell more top notes, more aromatic fruit and floral aromas. On the other nostril, it will be the baser, tertiary aromas in the wine such as vanilla, spice and oak. Move a glass of the Creation barrel-fermented Chardonnay from one nostril to the other and you will appreciate how this can change your perception of aroma in wine, helping you to deconstruct the complexity of the bouquet in finer detail.”

How about that? There is always something new to learn about wine and how we interact with it.

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