When terroir trumps quality, a Jancis Robinson perspective

Terroir - Single block bottlings in New Zealand
Felton Road Block 3 and Block 5 Pinot Noir. New Zealand’s most treasured reds are single-block bottlings

When might a wine producer not want to make the best possible wine? Now. Now particularly. All over the world winemakers are more obsessed than ever with terroir, with the way geography can shape how the produce of a particular plot of vines can taste. Terroir was once acknowledged only by the French but today it’s an international concern – particularly outside France where it has the additional appeal of novelty.

Geologists may argue that the rocks under a vineyard can have only minimal influence on how a wine tastes but the microbiologists are hard at work on providing an explanation of the links between what’s in the glass and what’s under the vine. And geologists’ caution certainly hasn’t stopped wine producers investigating, celebrating and being sure to broadcast the characteristics of each vineyard. Soil pits are dug, weather monitored, electromagnetic induction harnessed, and vineyards understood and mapped with far more precision than ever before.


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