Newsweek: More Research Needed on Terroir

"More research is needed".

This is the conclusion that journalists Jerry Adler and Tara Weingarten writing in the most recent issue of Newsweek leave their readers with in an article exploriing the impact of terroir in California vineyards…or at least the notion of terroir in the California wine industry.

The article is a pretty basic rundown and serves to introduce the idea of terroir to American readers. However, the article does dispell one myth that seems too often bandied about: that the flavors in the wine are present in the soil and taken up into the vine and transferred into the grapes and later the wine:

"In particular, (David) Howell (author of a book on Napa Valley geology, "The Winemaker’s Dance.") dismisses out of hand the notion that complex flavors like blackberry or chocolate are somehow inherent in the ground. Even if they were in the soil, the necessary organic molecules wouldn’t be absorbed by the roots. Vines take up nutrients as individual elements (calcium, silicon, nitrogen and so on) and recombine them into the only thing they make, which is grapes. "In wine stores, they tell you there used to be an apricot orchard in the vineyard, so you get apricot notes in the wine," he complains, "and it’s just hogwash." If people are tasting those things, they were produced elsewhere: in the fermentation, the aging—or the imagination."

This dismissal of the idea is a good thing. Howell is right. The idea is "Hogwash."

In any case, it was interesting in and of itself to see an article on terroir in a mass circulated news magazine.

Posted In: Terroir


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