Archive for the ‘Terroir’ Category

Nov 19, 2014

Grapes, Not Wines, Are Impacted by AVAs

  There is a good case to be made that when comparing the French Appellation d’Origine Controlee (AOC) system with the American Viticultural Area (AVA) system, it is the American system of delineating grape growing regions that is far more invested in the theory of terroir than the French AOC system. This point concerning the relative commitment to terroir has been driven home to me while doing some work with the Petaluma Gap Winegrowers Alliance, which is currently in the…

Aug 5, 2014

The Romance of Terroir is Most Important…Not the Truth

A recent article in Spirits Business concerning the trend among Vodka producers to sell their drink based on provenance (where it came from) should remind the wine trade of something important to their own marketing efforts: The importance of the concept of “terroir” is not in the connection between the taste of wine and its terroir, but in the imagery, romance and meaning of place to the consumer. In the Spirits Business article, Claire Smith, head of spirit creation at…

Apr 15, 2014

Celebrating The Best Defined Wine Growing Region in California

One of the criticisms of the American Viticultural Area (AVA) system (our appellation system) in the U.S. is that it imposes so few rules on the use of a place-name that buyers can have few expectations of what they will be tasting when they buy a bottle of wine with “Russian River Valley”, “Sonoma Coast”, “Dry Creek Valley” or any other AVA on the label. Beyond requiring that a certain percent of the grapes used to make the wine must…

Mar 6, 2014

The Question of Land-Focused vs. Hand-Focused Wines

Today, in nearly any thoughtful discussion of fine wine by knowledgeable drinkers, one finds a near universal bias towards Land-Focused or “terroir-driven” wines over “Hand-Focused” or winemaker-driven wines. This land-focused bias—the belief that wines that accurately depict a terroir are “better” wines—is nothing new. Old World wine drinkers and vintners have held this attitude for generations and have codified the bias into appellation laws. What I’ve been wondering is this: Is a land-focused fine wine bias a more reasonable or…

Feb 10, 2014

The Wine Materialist Lays a Natural Turd

I chuckle every time I hear the phrase uttered or written: “As Nature Intended”. On its face, the phrase implies that nature or the natural world displays intent, which further implies that a rock, an apple tree, the wind, iron molecules and, yes, even vineyards possess intelligence. And this is a kind interpretation of the phrase. At base, the phrase implies that “Nature” is a single intelligent actor that is at least willful and at most omnipotent. It’s a pretty…