A Plea For Terroir
Appellation America is turning into a very interesting website, as evidenced by Alan Goldfarb’s most recent article there, "Terroir in America".
Alan essentially makes an argument, nay, plea, for the need to have winemakers focus more on crafting wines that demonstrate a sense of place rather than a sense of heft. The assumption here is that wine made from super-ripe grapes and smacked down with layers of oak essentially cover up the most important and interesting aspect of wine: the place it tastes like.
I agree with Alan on the effects of overripe, over alcoholic wine. I think we differ however on how, or where, winemakers can achieve "wines of terroir". You really should read this article and try to decide for yourself.
For wine enthusiasts the idea of terroir is the most interesting and inspiring thing about wine. Nothing else comes close. Nothing else inspires more interesting and provocative discussions that are often characterized by passion, nationalism and curiosity.
I‘ve come to the conclusion that in most every case California’s American Viticultural Areas (AVAs) or "Appellations" are really worthless as markers of terroir, let alone characteristics one can expect to find in wines labeled "Russian River Valley", "Santa Lucia Highlands", "Carneros", "Temecula" or "Santa Rita Hills," just to name a few.
In my mind, small vineyards are the place we need to be looking for real terroir. But I’m curious what all you think.