Terroir

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What matters more, terroir or market appeal?

  • Terroir

    Votes: 14 73.7%
  • Market Appeal

    Votes: 5 26.3%

  • Total voters
    19

Andy M.

Certified Pretend Chef
Joined
Sep 1, 2004
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Massachusetts
Thanks Chef June.

I am not a fan of sweet wines at all. A comment was made earlier that this manipulation was done to make California wines taste like they came from elsewhere. Also to make them taste the same from year to year.

I guess you can do that by blending grape varietals and those from different locations but I don't see that as manipulating (this word has a negative connotation), rather it is part of the vintner's art.
 
Joined
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Could someone please explain to me how wineries manipulate the grapes to make their wine taste different? Also, why is that a bad thing?

The two biggest techniques are reverse osmosis (used for juice concentration, taint removal, and alcohol reduction), and micro-oxygenation which uses tiny bubbles of O2 to aid in color retention, and soften tannins (which would normally be done through a natural aging process.) Another way winemakers manipulte wine is by aging in new oak barrels (or as June pointed out, by using chips in addition to barrels). Some oak is good, in some cases. (Warning, editorial comment) Too much oak is never good because it overpowers the terroir. When I am in the mood for lots of oak, I drink a single malt scotch. Certain regions in France use certain types of oak, others (such as Chinon in Loire) use no oak, not even in their reds. If the wine maker uses oak, his wine is not appellation.
 

PanchoHambre

Washing Up
Joined
Mar 5, 2008
Messages
702
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Philly PA
buy it again.

Edited to add: Marketing goes into every bottle, not just the cutsie ones. The plain labels were designed that way, even if just in small part, with people who hate cutsie type labels in mind.

LOL I know! It is hard not to be a victim of marketing.

In my hometown there is an excellent wine store... one of the best in Metro NY. While they are known as a snooty shop and carry the hard to find high dollar bottles they also have an excellent selecton of reasonablly priced wines. Despite thier rep I always have found the staff helpful and always buy a few on their reccomendation I have never been dissapointed and rarely am disspointed with anything they have in stock.

I dont know much so I rely on those who do. When I am home I usually buy a mixed case.

In PA the state liquor board controlls the wine so we are limited to thier selection which is quite poor at most stores. The staff are useless as they are not wine people just lucky folks with a stable govt job.

I need to get to know some of the NJ winsellers. Buying wine in NY was an enjoyable experience in Philly it is a chore
 

Andy M.

Certified Pretend Chef
Joined
Sep 1, 2004
Messages
49,391
Location
Massachusetts
The two biggest techniques are reverse osmosis (used for juice concentration, taint removal, and alcohol reduction), and micro-oxygenation which uses tiny bubbles of O2 to aid in color retention, and soften tannins (which would normally be done through a natural aging process.) Another way winemakers manipulte wine is by aging in new oak barrels (or as June pointed out, by using chips in addition to barrels). Some oak is good, in some cases. (Warning, editorial comment) Too much oak is never good because it overpowers the terroir. When I am in the mood for lots of oak, I drink a single malt scotch. Certain regions in France use certain types of oak, others (such as Chinon in Loire) use no oak, not even in their reds. If the wine maker uses oak, his wine is not appellation.

I infer from your posts that you consider these processes as illegitimate rather than an integral part of the legit vintner's art.

I know some wines are aged in oak and others are not. I don't understand why you refer to aging wine in new oak barrels as manipulating rather than aging.

Also, adding oak chips to wine to add 'oakiness' does not strike me as a devious step. It's real oak in both cases not artificial oak flavor extract (or something like that). All the chips do is provide more surface area for the wine to react with.
 
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I think you misunderstood me Andy. I don't think that the practices are devious tricks, (okay, maybe I think they are a little unfair, I guess I shouldn't try to hide that) but I definitely think they mute terroir. When i make my wine at home I use oak chips(mostly French and Hungarian), but I use them like salt and pepper, sparingly - and because I lack 3-5 year old barrels. Some people don't care about vintage and terroir, they just want a particular flavor profile. I happen to like that flavor profile in certain wines (like Darioush, Far Niente, and Burgess for example, although I don't know if they use R.O. and micro-ox. The only thing that is disappointing about a wine that has been manipulated in the cellar is that you are often no longer able to - or are less able to - distinguish between vintages. Processes like these are aimed at establishing consistency rather than at making terroir wine.

It is neither good nor bad, just preference. I prefer terroir. If you prefer neauvou that is oak-ay (ha ha silly pun) millions of others feel the same way you do. What is most important is what YOU like, because you are the one drinking it. ;)
 

Andy M.

Certified Pretend Chef
Joined
Sep 1, 2004
Messages
49,391
Location
Massachusetts
Thanks for explaining.

You're right. Drinking wine is an enjoyable experience for me. I like drinking wine with dinner and try to select wines to pair well with my menus. Beyond that, I don't have the level of interest you do.

To paraphrase the old line, "I may not know wine but I know what I like."
 

Bigjim68

Head Chef
Joined
Jan 27, 2008
Messages
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Richmond, Va
I think you misunderstood me Andy. I don't think that the practices are devious tricks, (okay, maybe I think they are a little unfair, I guess I shouldn't try to hide that) but I definitely think they mute terroir. When i make my wine at home I use oak chips(mostly French and Hungarian), but I use them like salt and pepper, sparingly - and because I lack 3-5 year old barrels. Some people don't care about vintage and terroir, they just want a particular flavor profile. I happen to like that flavor profile in certain wines (like Darioush, Far Niente, and Burgess for example, although I don't know if they use R.O. and micro-ox. The only thing that is disappointing about a wine that has been manipulated in the cellar is that you are often no longer able to - or are less able to - distinguish between vintages. Processes like these are aimed at establishing consistency rather than at making terroir wine.

It is neither good nor bad, just preference. I prefer terroir. If you prefer neauvou that is oak-ay (ha ha silly pun) millions of others feel the same way you do. What is most important is what YOU like, because you are the one drinking it. ;)
I'm not sure what the definition of "manipulation" is. It seems to me that everything from planting and pruning techniques through blending different varieties, to aging procedures, are all manipulation. All wineries do this, and all wineries should. If the flavor is improved to my liking, then I am in favor. Adding chips, aging longer or less, and other improvements are all legimitate techniques IMO.
 
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I'm not sure what the definition of "manipulation" is. It seems to me that everything from planting and pruning techniques through blending different varieties, to aging procedures, are all manipulation. All wineries do this, and all wineries should. If the flavor is improved to my liking, then I am in favor. Adding chips, aging longer or less, and other improvements are all legimitate techniques IMO.

I mentioned earlier in the post that work done in the field is fair game, in the cellar it is a slippery slope - according to Laurent Drouhin, not Nate - I am an armature wine maker and have no business telling anyone what is or isn't :). Obviously anything that changes the flavor of the wine in its most natural state - possibly even including cultivated yeasts and malolactic fermentation? - is a form of manipulation. When I use the term, I am really not referring to oaking techniques, although the argument that I was making is that oak can overpower terroir if it is used too liberally, by not blending new and old casks, or stainless with oak. Even racking changes the wine. What I get uneasy about are techniques that make wine that would, in its natural state, have to age for ten or 15 years just to be tolerable, ready to drink today.

Again however, it is not right or wrong, it is preference...terroir or market appeal? A personal favorite of mine is Chinon Cab Franc, which is beautiful, and earthy even though it is made with no oak and is never racked (imparting a nice yeasty aroma from the many months on the lees.) Yes, they prune, it improves fruit quality, but it concentrates terroir, rather than covering it. I could talk about this all day.:rolleyes:
 

kitchenelf

Chef Extraordinaire
Joined
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North Carolina
Cab Franc - a topic in and of itself! There are very few straight up Cab Franc's I can drink. I just don't find liquid green bell pepper very appealing :LOL:

I tend to think more grape varietal when picking wines ALONG with terroir. I know I like most wines from Burgundy, but, not Bordeaux. Bordeaux is just too "barnyard" for me. Though I like an Australian Shiraz, one from France has an earthiness to it that can't be found in Australia. Austria and Hungary show some of that earthy, Burgundy quality on a lesser note - that suits me too. I tend to like that earthy/dirt note that only French terroir can produce. Meritage California wines duplicate the Bordeaux wines ONLY by using the same grape varietals - - - no amount of "manipulation" is going to give that barnyard quality to them and for that, I am grateful :blush:. I have discovered that I like high-end Bordeaux wine - go figure! I like a good California Meritage. Brevante Trio is pretty darn good, as is Magnificat (although I could taste the Cab Franc from 100 miles away :LOL:, right along with the Petit Verdot!) Still great with that big, fat steak!
 
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I infer from your posts that you consider these processes as illegitimate rather than an integral part of the legit vintner's art.

I know some wines are aged in oak and others are not. I don't understand why you refer to aging wine in new oak barrels as manipulating rather than aging.

Also, adding oak chips to wine to add 'oakiness' does not strike me as a devious step. It's real oak in both cases not artificial oak flavor extract (or something like that). All the chips do is provide more surface area for the wine to react with.

I just noticed your comment, and yes, the state store SUCKS! I used to live in P.A. and I can second the motion, the government has no taste in wine (unless it is a buyer for the white house, in which case, J Shram is an excellent choice). Since I moved to Ohio there are two things that I have really enjoyed; being closer to the Browns, and the freedom to buy whatever wine I want.
 

kitchenelf

Chef Extraordinaire
Joined
Feb 21, 2002
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North Carolina
What is Terroir?

Basically, it is the complete package of local conditions under which a wine grows. It not only includes the weather conditions but the soil, a certain mountainside a vineyard, or group of vineyards grows their grapes, the sunshine, the rain, etc. Every aspect of the terroir goes into how a wine will taste. A Californio pinot noir may be the EXACT same grape as a French Burgundy, but, they will have totally different flavor profiles because of their terroir. Even French Burgundies, from different vineyards/locations have different terroir notes to them.

Edited to say: Sorry, I had to run right after I typed the above. I hope that explains it a bit. If you stand in a vineyard and look up, down, all around - every little bit of what you see is the terroir.

I hope that explains it. Ask if anything else needs a further explanation.
 
Last edited:

Lefty7887

Sous Chef
Joined
Nov 7, 2008
Messages
706
Basically, it is the complete package of local conditions under which a wine grows. It not only includes the weather conditions but the soil, a certain mountainside a vineyard, or group of vineyards grows their grapes, the sunshine, the rain, etc. Every aspect of the terroir goes into how a wine will taste. A Californio pinot noir may be the EXACT same grape as a French Burgundy, but, they will have totally different flavor profiles because of their terroir. Even French Burgundies, from different vineyards/locations have different terroir notes to them.

Edited to say: Sorry, I had to run right after I typed the above. I hope that explains it a bit. If you stand in a vineyard and look up, down, all around - every little bit of what you see is the terroir.

I hope that explains it. Ask if anything else needs a further explanation.

So, it is safe to say that they terroir from one vineyard can be different from year to year because of ever changing conditions?
 

kitchenelf

Chef Extraordinaire
Joined
Feb 21, 2002
Messages
19,722
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North Carolina
So, it is safe to say that they terroir from one vineyard can be different from year to year because of ever changing conditions?

Vintages can vary due to too much rain, lack of rain, etc. So characteristics may change within the terroir due to weather conditions, but, I don't think you'd say the terroir changes. It does get confusing!
 

Mel!

Sous Chef
Joined
Aug 29, 2006
Messages
862
I suppose, I choose wine pretty randomly. If it is not good tasting, I buy a different one next time. The terroir doesnt come into the decision at all.
 

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