What is it that makes a wine that is a truer representation of the ground and climate in which its grapes were grown…a more desirable wine?
This is the THEORY that animates those who believe "terroir-driven wines" are better wines…isn’t it?
This is the question that struck me as I was re-reading an article by Tim Patterson from the November 2004 issue of Wines & Vines, a trade publication.
The question is in fact philosophical. Nothing about a more "natural", "terroir-driven" wine makes it objectively better than a wine of lesser naturalness. But not being in the mood to think about the question at that deep a level, I trained my marketer’s eye on the question. Through this lens, we do have a question with objective answers.
A wine that can be described as more natural and more terroir-driven is more useful to the marketer because:
1. It is, presumably, unique in every way. Marketers really do like to claim ownership of their product
2. In today’s marketing climate, "natural" is far more valuable than "manipulated" or
manufactured. And keep in mind, this was not always the case in America. There was a
time when new, science-driven, manufactured, space-age products were all the rage. But not today.
3. To claim one has a "terroir-driven" wine to sell allows the marketer to climb upon the
back of the French-built reputation that claims: A wine with terroir is the better wine. This claim tends to work best, believe it or not, when marketing to a wine savvy crowd.
4. If the wine has any defects, small ones that is, that result in only slightly off flavors, the
claim of "terror!!" can be used to explain them away…even make them seem attractive.
To what extent has the marketer and the publicist helped propel "terroir" into the lexicon of American winemaking? To what extent has a significantly increased interest in "Terroir" propelled the PR and marketing specialist to take up the banner of natural wines in recent years.
Early on in his article on Terroir, Tim Patterson writes:
"These days, everybody talks terroir, New Worlders sometimes more
fervently than Old. It’s
not that Europe won the argument, or that
researchers found the "proof" behind the concept.
No, we are all
terroirists because the term has come to mean almost anything anybody
it to mean, which puts it in danger of meaning nothing at all."
Is Terroir all about marketing?