Among wine drinkers, the term Terroir can invoke glazed expressions, or in real enthusiasts an opportunity to wax lyrical about the provenance of their beverage. The term is French, morphing from the word terre , the land, or earth. It conveys a ‘sense of place’, the earth, the climate, and the culture of wine-making. In other words, pretty well anything that contributes to a wine’s character.
Opinions vary about the real significance of terroir. For some, the cultural foundations are most important in a kind of philosophical, metaphysical way. For others, it is the physical environment in which the grapes grow, are harvested, and finally turned into wine. For the more cynical it is just a marketing ploy, something to make the purchaser and imbiber feel good. The French have honed this to a fine art, to the point where only wine from Burgundy can be called Burgundy, or Champagne from a region and appellation of the same name in north France. Continue reading