Some profound(?) thoughts prompted by this Loire trip

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Terroir is a creative act between people and a place. Terroir only exists in the context of a wine, and wine is a creative act as a winegrower seeks to interpret their place through choices they make in viticulture and winemaking.

Drinking wine is itself a creative act. We are given a sensory theme, and we act upon this. We use our imaginations as well as our palates, as we recreate the place through the medium of the wine. We question the liquid in our glass, and then we are creative as we choose to let it take us to a destination that is prompted by our sensory experience, but which we also contribute to. To understand a great wine and appreciate it fully requires a skilled and imaginative taster.

The weather of a season – the vintage – is very important in cooler climates (and sometimes even in warm ones). Yes, the soils are vital. But they need to be partnered with a good vintage in order to show what they are capable of. It is this interplay of the season’s weather (vines NEVER see climate) and the soils that produces the wine of that year, and sometimes the weather is such that the role of the soil is diminished.

Sauvignon is a great grape variety and it is unfairly dismissed by some. It makes simple wines of pleasure, but it can also make profound white wines that express terroir and which age well. It is a singular variety, but those who criticize it do so from a position of not having given this variety a second chance.

We are only just beginning to explore the impact of soils on wine, and it’s such an interesting topic. Yet there exists a mine of misinformation and assumption on this subject. We need to combine anecdotal observation with good, open-minded science to understand this better, and we shouldn’t rush, because it’s such a fun journey that’s only just beginning.

1 comment to Some profound(?) thoughts prompted by this Loire trip

  • Olly Bartlett

    Agree of course. After many vineyard visits, soil is the most important thing by far! Someone like Tom from Matassa can talk for hours about it. Interestingly, I would say that there are also beers with terroir, mixed, wild ferments using fruit grown on the premises or nearby, breweries such as Jester King, Allagash (the wild stuff) and in a different way, Cantillon.

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