Most people define boutique wine as “small production”, “artisanal” or even “cult”. But what does it really mean for a wine to be boutique?
Over the past few weeks, we’ve tried to highlight wines from lesser known areas, like New Mexico or Jasnieres. We’ve also tasted some wine where only a few hundred cases are made each year. But recently, we’ve asked ourselves a pretty fundamental question… Is the number of bottles a winery makes or the simple fact that the vineyards happen to be in the middle-of-nowhere enough to make it boutique.
The short answer is probably yes.
But we’ve also been to plenty of large wineries that produce tens of thousands of cases and thought of them as boutique. The winemaker was still passionate about his/her craft, the vineyard manager knew every vine, exactly when to harvest the grapes, how delicately they should be crushed… the whole wine operation just had a sense of purpose that transcended the “business” of producing wine.
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. It’s rare to turn around a bottle and across the back label read “We really care about what’s inside here”. But, in our opinion, it also makes seeking out and tasting these wines thoroughly rewarding.
So, what does it mean to you for a wine to be boutique? Do you expect it to be better, worse, different, new, strange… or maybe nothing at all? Does it matter to you if the wine is boutique or not when you buy it?