Friday, October 30, 2009

Tasting Terroir?

From Champagne to Chablis to Priorat, the concept of minerality in wine is both a constant and difficult-to-quantify one. Lovers of Priorat, for example, often note a sense of the mineral in the wines. When it comes to Chardonnay, few places can match Chablis in this department. Indeed, even if you have a hard time pinpointing exactly what it is that seems so mineral in these wines, the slightest perception of it alone can have a huge impact on your experience.

But where does it come from? This is a question that has vexed wine experts for some time now. Several years ago, The New York Times T Magazine ran an article on it (click here for the link), which prompted Rajat Parr, one of the top sommeliers in America, to pen a rebuttal (available here).

Eventually, all the hubbub died down. Now, however, it appears ready to pop into popular wine discussion again. recently reported that, “Scientists in Oregon are challenging the notion that terroir can be detected in a wine.”

The news item continued, “As part of a study into vineyard soils, geologists meeting in Portland for this year's Geological Society of America conference concluded that the French gout de terroir—translated literally as 'taste of the soil'—probably isn't caused by minerals found in the vineyard.”

Whatever you believe, it’s interesting food for thought this weekend. My recommendation is to ponder both sides while sipping a nice glass of Chablis. Or Champagne. Or Priorat.


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