Saturday, February 28, 2015

Is terroir still central to winemaking? Doesn’t it seem that the New World wines lower its significance...

Is terroir still central to winemaking?  Doesn’t it seem that New World wines and new world winemakers on the face of it give a lower profile to its significance? Is that really happening?

A lot of wine drinkers say terroir and the ‘sense of place’ is the most important necessity in the wines they most enjoy drinking.

Why is that?

The crux of the issue is that there’s this acceptance that establishing the appearance of prestige for a wine and those who drink it is very important... and to the French this is no alien concept. They are so very good at this

The French market prestige very successfully, particularly in Bordeaux and Burgundy which has exaggeratedly increased the value of the wine in those areas; it’s almost guaranteed that with every vintage there’s recognition that the wines constantly have a place at the uppermost of the wine industry.

In roughly all cases, it practically doesn’t matter what chateau or domaine produced the wine, as the brand is so powerfully tied to the region.

But let’s be clear… the history of accomplishment that has permitted this occurrence to happen, has taken a lot of time and a lot of money and Bordeaux and Burgundy has some of the worlds very best wines.

But can the same tactic be used effectively in the new world?

Napa Valley has as near to a terroir-like approach. Does it matter?

...and yes Napa Valley has established an almost unusual success among wine drinkers, especially with cult cabs and the spotlight on certain AVA's... But has this truly furthered the region in total?

It’s not so easy to pinpoint because of the regions and sub-regions.

A lot of the new world areas are so much more infinite than their equivalents in the old world. So there will be some degree of comparison. But sometimes not. Let's take the Barossa Valley of Australia as an example; there are some thirty different soil types while in to contrast in Bordeaux France there are about six.

So how much specificity can one find with the amazing amount of variableness. Probably not very much all the time.

Does modern wine making in new world vineyards make the perception of terroir irrelevant?

Right now the many regions and sub-regions of the new world are virtually unknown outside the local community. It's changing but not at an accelerated pace. That’s where marketing can come into play and poses a conundrum.

Considering prestige of areas like Bordeaux and Burgundy; the effect is that new world wine makers are pushing the regions that are known and that leads to the new world winemakers knowing that they can do better by leveraging the areas that are known. This leads to more and more oversimplification which is without question the opposite of what terroir is really all about.

What’s really happening is that as more new world producers start to take an interest in terroir, the scientists are staying on top of it and are becoming more concerned in defining terroir and describing its effects on wines. Because there is no denying that where grapes are grown impart unique characteristics into those grapes, which are singular to their region of the world.


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