Wine Basics – Terroir

I decided to put this in wine basics because the term gets thrown around a lot and it doesn’t have a hard and fast definition. “Terroir” means earth or soil in French. In wine it is a concept that a wine which comes from a place is influenced by the soils, exposures, climate, flora, fauna, and culture of that place.

The idea has come into focus in part because of the large number of wines which are made from grapes from very large areas. For instance The Cotes du Rhone region stretches for about 200 Kilometers (132 miles) along the Rhone river. There are over 32,000 acres of vines used in the appellation. Much of the wine is made by co-ops or big firms which mix fruit from a wide range of vineyards. This is not to say they are bad wines. Most of them are good wines and I enjoy them fairly frequently. The idea of terroir is that by blending grapes from a large area you loose the individual characteristics of that area which can add the hard to define something extra which elevates a wine from good to very good or even great.

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