Logic of terroir


It's becoming evident to me that (along with waves of periodic publicity, and different interpretations of the term) "terroir" as a subject of discussion evokes a variety of assumptions or "baggage." Below, summary of an ongoing discussion:
1. MS, 13Nov03: "French grapes struggle with bad weather, no irrigation, hungry crows. California grapes are pampered with water, sun, heat. There is no question why French wines have more local personality than California wines."
2. RR, 27Mar06: "According to [posting above], French wines will always be superior to Californian because they're, well, French."
3. MH, 12Apr07: "I don't read [comment above] to claim French wines are 'superior to' California wines ..."
4. RR, 12Apr07: "Hmm. So bad weather, dryfarming and crows only exist in France?"
5. MH, 12Apr07: "I don't take the comment that way at all."
6. RR, 12Apr07: "It is a pretense that only France 'suffers' and therefore experiences more 'character' in her vineyards."
Reply to
Max Hauser

There is a logic behind this. Terroir will only express itself 1) if there are interesting soil and weather conditions 2) if you grow the grapes in a certain way, mainly letting the roots grow deep 3) if you make the wine in a way that favours the expression of terroir as opposed to masking it So you see, out of 3 conditions, 2 are entirely up to man, they are "cultural" (in more ways than one)
You get deep roots by not irrigating (at least not during the first 5 years of the plant's life) and by regularly working the surface soil, in part so as to cut any roots growing horizontally in the first layers of topsoil. Irrigation means that the plant will develop its roots horizontally to pick up surface water.
Terroir will not be evident in the wine unless you make the wine in a certain way. I am not advocating making odd smelly wines by doing nothing, but wine will express terroir if the winemaking was, to the extent possible, non-interventionist. You do what is required to steer the wine in the direction it naturally tends to (terroir) but protect it with reasonable amounts of SO2.
This is why the notion of terroir as understood by its champions (I mean the winemakers who most succeed in obtaining it) is not limited to questions of geology and meteorology, it inevitably includes the work of the vine grower and the winemaker. Terroir without the man is just "natural conditions".
--
Mike Tommasi - Six Fours, France
email link http://www.tommasi.org/mymail
Reply to
Mike Tommasi

Thanks for the insights, Mike, thoughtfully expressed.
My own question of logic in the original posting referred to the sequence of comments, taken as a whole. (Specifically, how are items 2 and 6 inferable from the earlier ones, unless you introduce further assumptions "not in evidence.")
-- Max
Reply to
Max Hauser

In article , snipped-for-privacy@THIStdl.com says...
Max,
I assume that these are the nyms of folk on a wine discussion board. OR, are they folk that we should know?
Maybe it's the "crows," that made Ravenswood Zins so good. I guess when they sold to whichever big corporation it was, that the crows (ravens) left? Hence, the decline in the wines... or maybe not.
Interesting ideas, that folk have.
Hunt
Reply to
Hunt

"Hunt" in news: snipped-for-privacy@news2.newsguy.com :
Howdy hunt. Not necessarily, though this folk ("MH") you know already. It was an ongoing discussion on an HTTP forum.
Incidentally it's striking how much language along your lines appears in a, or the, classic middle-1970s overview book on California wine (by Bob Thompson and Hugh Johnson, photos and maps by Harolyn Thompson, ISBN 0688030874). I was re-reading it, and noticed. And that several classy California Cabernet producers (that I got to know well, soon after that) had just been formed within a few years of the book's 1976 publication. Such tentative new labels as "Silveroaks Cellars," formed 1972 by "current proprietors of Franciscan Vineyards [Duncan and Meyer] with the intent of using the label only for choice lots of Cabernet Sauvignon from vineyards they own ... the debut vintage is due to appear in the market late in 1976, or early in 1977."
Reply to
Max Hauser

In article , snipped-for-privacy@THIStdl.com says...
I kinda' figured that I knew this MH character, but could not be sure.
Thanks for the info on this older tome. I do not have it, but would bet that it would make interesting reading, especially in light of the history that has passed. Were not Duncan and Meyer (fairly recently departed) principals in the original Christian Brothers endeavor?
Hunt
Reply to
The Bulldog

^^^^^^^^^^^ Haven't seen you use _that_ name in a while, Hunt!
Not principals. Justin Meyer was a member of the Christian Brothers order and learned the craft from the legendary Brother Timothy. Eventually, Meyer left the order (to get married IIRC) and found Raymond Duncan, who had made a fortune in the oil biz in Denver and bought 500 acres of prime land in the Napa Valley. Thus, as they say, was history made.
Mark Lipton
--
alt.food.wine FAQ:  http://winefaq.hostexcellence.com
Reply to
Mark Lipton

You might enjoy a new thread on durable useful cookbooks (and the classic Sandwich misinformation further popularized online): news: snipped-for-privacy@corp.supernews.com
Not unheard-of, by the way. (Longtime tasting friends, of enviably mature years, are a married couple formerly priest and nun. This is sometimes labeled a change of habits.*)
Continuing on food: Now in the works, something vast and promising, based on an entry here:
news: snipped-for-privacy@corp.supernews.com also currently archived
formatting link

-------- * Yes yes, a pun; "puns are never acceptable" saith the movie [Ridicule, 1996, Canadian-French -- Ed.] but harmless, arguably didactic; besides, nothing compared to what surfaced in offline corr. on hot subject of APAP-alcohol interactions where a distinguished, truly distinguished, physician used three (3) variations of "One must look at Web-based medical advice with a jaundiced eye."
Reply to
Max Hauser

Please define "interesting".
Please define "a certain way". And what is the scientific support for your claim that tbe roots need to grow deep? I know that including "scientific" in any discussion of winegrowing will elicit howls of outrage but continuing to repeat old wives' tales will not make them any less questionable than they already are.
And how, may I ask, does one do this? Specific examples, please. Yeast strains, temperature controls (oops, no fluorocarbons or ammonia allowed. they weren't used 100 years ago so they casn't bve used now), no grafting onto North American rootstocks, either.
You have stretched the meaning of "culture" beyond any recognizable limit.
I've read this paragraph a dozen times and I still don't have a clue what point you're trying to make.
Total BS.
With this note, I'm taking leave of AFW. I once found many of the discussions here interesting and well informed. I was a regular contributor and felt that I learned a lot from people who knew a lot more about certain aspects of wine than I did. Now I find a severely debased level of discourse.
I'm sorry this response had to be to one of Michael's posts because this post is really not directed specifically to him. It's just that his post was the one that finally prompted me to write what I have been thinking for a long time now.
This is the only NG I subscribe to and I'm about to uninstall the (Free Agent) newsreader that I use. If anyone has any comments, the e-mail address is a valid one.
Vino
Reply to
Vino

The best book I know for how the winemakers of California made wine in the 1970s is Great Winemakers of California, Capra Press, Santa Barbara 1977. In this book Robert Benson has long interviews with many top winemakers. The book likely has long been out of print. There are interviews with Martin Ray, David Bruce, Paul Draper, Richard Graff, Andre Tchelistcheff, Warren Winiarski, Joseph Heitz, Richard Foreman, and Michael Mondavi to name a view. There are many minute details on how they grow grapes and make wine, and the details differ greatly for many winemakers.
Reply to
cwdjrxyz

Should you ever decide to check this or other Usenet group in the future, you do not need a newsreader. Just go to Google and select groups. You can read any of the groups there including this one without signing up. If you wish to post, you only have to subscribe to the group there, which only requires an active mail address. Groups do change slowly over time. A specialized newsreader does offer more options, but Google has most of what most people require.
Reply to
cwdjrxyz

The best test I can think of are involve red wines of DRC for a single year. Romanee-Conti, La Tache, Richebourg, Grands Echezeaux, Echezeaux, and Romanee-St.-Vivant are within easy walking distance of one another. The grapes used for the DRC wines come from property owned and managed by DRC. The winemaker is the same for all. There are slight differences in how the wines are made from year to year, depending on the ripeness, etc. There could be a small variation in any given year in how individual wines are made, and this could account for a likely small variation in the wine. A slightly different mix of Pinot Noir clones in different vineyards could have a small influence However, if you compare DRC wines from the same year, it usually does not take an expert to detect that they are different. It may take some training to identify each wine by name.
Reply to
cwdjrxyz

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