For many of us wine drinker we have heard the word “Terroir.” But do we really understand what it is and how it impacts the wines we have come to enjoy.
It is that “Rutherford Dust” that allow the experienced sommelier to identify a Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon from the Rutherford AVA, Napa Valley. It is the distinct grapefruit notes that you find in a New Zealand – Marlbourgh Sauvignon Blanc, and the unmistakable earthiness of that amazing French Burgundy……. So what is “Terroir”
Let me start by sharing a definition I found on the Spring Mountain District website – About Napa Valley:
“When applied to wine, the French word terroir indicates both the terrain and the entire micro- and macro-environments in which grapes grow and ripen. Terroir therefore comprises soil, precipitation, sun, wind, exposure and all other natural influences. It expresses continuity of character in a region’s wines from year to year. It is the basis for regional personality and a source of reference when judging quality.”
From another source an article by Paul Skinner, Soil Scientist: “Without the complex nature of soils, there would be no terroir.”
Ok my Friends........... It’s not just “Dirt”
Related it to wine “Terroir” is so much more than just the “SOIL” in which the vines grow in, it is also those intangible characteristics / personality unique to the wine and the region that it comes from…… “Ask five people for a definition of terroir and you get six answers”….this a quote from the article: “The Mechanics of Terroir” by Derrick Schneider.
I have come to understand and compare Terroir to that of the hand you are dealt in a game of poker or to that of a chess match some hands are better than others, and some competitors are better, but it is your strategy in how you work within what you have that determine the outcome……keeping in mind there also needs to be some natural ability to start with as well…….
I think that I have come to define “Terroir”……
As that intangible….combination of the Soil, Climate, Topography, Wind Currents, and understanding this when selecting what type of grapes to plant, Farming Practices, and even the Winemaker, and the decisions made in the winery that give the final product the “Wine” that unique characteristic / personality very telling about the region in which it comes from like no other….that is “Terroir”
And now you have another definition for Terroir………….
Sommelier – Wine Buyer
Mecenat Bistro & Gathering Place
821 W Burlington Ave. Western Springs, IL. 60558
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