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Terroir II: Thinking like a grape

41 comments

My post yerterday generated an interesting discussion in the “comments” section that attempted both to focus in on the true meaning of terroir and also to expand upon it. The issues raised included:

– can heavy winemaker intervention “overpower any sense of terroir”? [this is from Stephen Hare]

– What about “the heart, soul and dreams of the people farming the vineyard and making its wine” [from scott]. Romantic notions aside, what is the importance of the winemaker’s consciousness to a fine wine that expresses terroir?

– what is the nature of the interactive process that occurs between the vineyard and its manager/winemaker? Or, to use Joe’s phrase, how important is it for the winemaker “to learn from the vineyard”?

Books could be (and have been) written about all of these concepts, which are complex and interrelated. The notion of heavy winemaker intervention overpowering terroir is probably the hardest to answer. Before addressing it, it might be helpful to ask another question: If heavy winemaker intervention overpowers terroir, then does light intervention safeguard it? (By “light” I mean less new oak or less charred oak, non-dealcoholized wine, unfiltered, natural yeast, etc.) The answer obviously is no. It seems logical, then, to extrapolate that heavy winemaker intervention does not necessarily overpower terroir. Most people, when they think of winemaker intervention, mean oak. Many of the top Burgundies and Bordeaux are aged in 100% new oak, yet they are held up as prima facie examples of terroir. I suppose in theory it’s possible to take a perfectly good wine that does reflect its terroir and then bury it under this and that. I routinely complain about otherwise good Chardonnays, Pinot Noirs and Cabernet Sauvignons that are overoaked. But whether the amount of oak overpowers their terroir, as opposed to their being sound, non-terroir-driven wines that happen to be overoaked, is impossible to tell in a blind tasting. If you know the wine is from a great single vineyard with a high reputation, and the wine tastes overoaked, you can always say, “What a pity they overpowered the terroir with oak.” But what if the wine is (say) a Meritage sourced from various vineyards throughout Sonoma County? You can say it’s overoaked, but you can’t complain that the terroir has been compromised, because the wine by definition has no terroir, properly understood, unless you claim there is a special Sonoma County terroir; and if you do, you would have to claim there’s a special North Coast terroir, and even a special California terroir. It becomes more and more absurd and reductionist.

So it’s easy to show that winemaker intervention can just as easily enhance terroir as overpower it, and that leads to the notion of the winemaker learning from the vineyard. This is often overlooked, by the public and even by some critics, but it shouldn’t be. Christian Moueix once was quoted as saying it would take him 20 years to figure out how to make Dominus (and, in the event, he was right). Here, he strikes to the heart of the matter. It’s not just a question of the grower and vintner tinkering with oak forests or toast levels or yeast types. First they must listen to what the vineyard is saying to them. This is known by the producers of every great wine in the world. Just as a child with certain inherent talents may never be able to express those talents if he is forced into a role by his parents that doesn’t allow his inner uniqueness to express itself, so grapes need to be allowed to be themselves. If there is terroir in the vineyard, the winemaker must understand precisely how to allow it to be expressed through the proper oak regimen, canopy management, winery techniques, etc. It’s an ongoing process that implies an open-minded willingness to learn. But the proof is in the pudding, as reflected by the overwhelming dominance of single-vineyard wines in my highest scores over the years.

And that brings us to scott’s observation about “heart, soul and dreams.” It’s always tempting to get overly romantic and philosophical about fine wine, but in this care it’s justified. Scott is onto something. There is a relationship between terroir (which we think of as firmly rooted in physical parameters) and the winemaker’s mind or consciousness. A very fine wine reflects a very fine mind. There’s no blunter or more accurate way to put it. A wine mind, if you will. To make great wine, the winemaker first must think like a grape.

If a winemaker can obtain a great site and then think like a grape (and this implies his employer giving him the means to do so), then what you have is terroir + the human factor = what Peynaud calls cru. [pp. 225-226 in "The Taste of Wine"]. “A cru is the result of making the most of natural conditions, as we saw in the [discussion of the] human factors in quality.”

  1. Grapes are not wine. Good grapes are not good wine. The human factor is the added difference, and it the human factor that helps elevate good grapes into great wine. Chardonnay is the best example because unadorned Chardonnay, while capable of being interesting, has yet to achieve grandeur anywhere on the planet. Even the least manipulated Chablis gets more attention in the winery than an equivalent Pinot Gris or Riesling. And the same is true for Cabernet Sauvignon.

    Overhandling is not the point. An informed, trained, sophisticated hand on the tiller is the point. Great wines rarely make themselves.

  2. Steve – I was going to attach this comment to yesterday’s post but it works better here. I try not to use the word terroir when discussing my vineyard and wines. I use “soil-driven” as a contrast to “fruit-driven” but avoid terroir because I believe we here in the States have an incomplete understanding of the term. We use it wrong, and come off like children using grown-up words.

    Years ago I spent a week walking around the Cote d’Or with geologist Robert Lautel; at first I was throwing around “terroir this” and “terroir that,” and he chided me for it. So I shut up and listened, and came away with a richer if still incomplete understanding. As I get it now, terroir is an all-encompassing gestalt of cultural factors including but not limited to: the soil, the sub-soil, the exposition, the mesoclimate, the type of vines planted and how they are planted and trellised, the yields and every other aspect of the farming, every aspect of the winemaking, indeed “the heart, soul and dreams of the people farming the vineyard and making its wine,” the history of a place and even the way the locals feel about the wines grown near them. In shorthand, it’s everything that would allow one to identify where a wine came from.

    Would one use terroir to describe the wines made in and around Modesto? I suggest the answer is yes.

  3. John, I could live with or without the word terroir. I use it because it’s easy and short. To me, it’s all the non-human factors that go into the grapes.

  4. RE last comment about employers giving winemakers the means to think like a grape, i don’t know much about the wine business YET, but through extrapolation, i would imagine winemakers’ employers are just like any other employer: concerned more with the bottom line and meeting the needs of the masses, than caring about the heart and soul of an individual, be it the individual who makes the wine, or the one who drinks it.

  5. Steve – I read post 1 of 2 last night and decided to sleep on it and formulate my comment, only to awake this morning and find post 2 of 2. I’d like to address two points from the perspective of the Farmer (wine term: “grower”). In the end of the day though, we farm an agricultural product that eventually becomes either a value, mid range or premium product. But I digress – more on the role of the Farmer later.

    First, terrior. Two weekends ago, we took 10 lots of Thomson Vineyards Napa Carneros Chardonnay that went out late September/October 2009 to 10 different winemakers from North Napa all the way to San Francisco. That’s 10 different “styles”, processes, skill levels, (there were start ups and there were well established guys in the mix) etc. This was the first time in a long time we’ve set them all up side by side and attempted to determine what characteristics could truly be attributed to the vineyard site. As you may suspect, some were over oaked, some just weren’t “right”, some nailed it. The ones that we call “classic” a description we equate with right on, nothing spectacular, but good classic Chardonnay characteristics all exhibited two things related to terroir: Acid and Minerality elements that even when slightly over oaked were in fact there – although more difficult to find your way past that burnt popcorn nose. The Farmer explains that the ability of the vines on our vineyard site to withstand heat and water and other elements and still be harvested Oct, 11 2009 with .76 acid can be related to the vines genetic makeup and the sites support of a balanced vine. The minerality, the Farmer explains is evident of the minerals in the Carneros Clay Loam soil at that particular mile marker on Los Carneros Avenue.

    Second, to address “what is the nature of the interactive process that occurs between the vineyard and its manager/winemaker? Or, to use Joe’s phrase, how important is it for the winemaker “to learn from the vineyard”? At Thomson Vineyards, we maintain if you haven’t had a tractor lesson from the Farmer driving YOUR fruit in on the tractor at Thomson Vineyards you cannot even begin to establish full understanding of the terroir you are about to attempt to work with. The nature of the process? The answer is synergy. You can’t be a winemaker without understanding the farming and you MUST find a site and a farmer who suits your needs as a winemaker (terroir) but also who you can learn with and from and form more than “decent” relationship with (interactive process). Otherwise, you’re sunk before you even get your fruit to the crushpad.

    By the way, the winemaker with the burnt popcorn Thomson Vineyards Chardonnay looked me in the eye last Wednesday and said he was thinking about labeling that one a “reserve”. I told him the hell you won’t! Not with Thomson Vineyards designate on that label. Do justice to the acidity and minerality of a classic Napa Carneros Chardonnay or get lost! I smiled sweetly after delivering the message of course.

  6. Thompson, thanks for your take on this. I find myself often giving a higher score to a winery’s regular Chardonnay than to its Reserve, and almost always because the Reserve is too oaky. People seem to think that putting more oak on not only makes a wine better, it makes it possible to charge more money. The latter may be true; the former is not.

  7. I make Pinot from 4 different AVAs in California and I consider myself an interventionist winemaker(I’m planning to have t-shirts made up this next harvest).

    I really think that each vineyard really has a personality of it’s own and I can’t think of an instance where our winemaking changed the character of the wine so much that it made the wine lose it’s inhertant nature. The craft of winemaking is to capture that sense of place while producing the best product possible. A light hand is usually best.

    I think a well made wine will always reflect the vineyard regardless of weather it is made by people in a winery or by the magical wine gnomes that apparently make wines in these non-interventionist temples I read so much about(mostly in winery sales literature).

    Great topic.

  8. Stephanie, you’re right. That’s why the best wines tend to cost more money.

  9. David, of all red varieties in California Pinot shows the most transparency. It benefits the most from a light hand. High alcohol tends to kill Pinot’s transparency, it seems to me.

  10. Steve,

    I agree about the high alcohol statement, and your comment gives a great example to explore.

    Assume a winery makes high end Pinot, they picked based upon the flavors they wanted and made a beautiful wine. Beautiful except that they are finding too much heat on the finish and they measure the wine at 14.9% alc. What to do? Should they “respect the vineyard” and bottle the wine as is and tell their mailing list customers “sorry the wine isn’t as good as it could be, but it reflects the fruit we picked from that vineyard”? Or should they gentley de-alc a few of the barrels(leaving 80% of the barrels untouched) and blend the lower alc wine into the blend and eliminate the heat on the finish?

    Would this wine mask the terroir of that vineyard? I don’t think so. In fact it would really allow the vineyard and resultant wine to shine. Again this is where the craft comes in.

    Great vineyards shine through the tweaking in the winery.

  11. French Wikipedia defines “terroir” as “a geographical area considered homogeneous based on its natural resources and production, particularly – but not exclusively – due to its agricultural practices and expertise. Terroirs are the outcome of the exploitation of the potentialities of a physical space by a human society; and its definition depends directly of the attributes of the civilization that inhabits the land. Therefore, within the same physical space, with identical potentialities and physical limitations, different human societies can develop distinct terroirs”.
    Terroir is one the reasons why oak plays a radically different role in France than it does in California, Australia and Argentina.
    A proper analogy is: grapes from high-latitude, cool oceanic climates, simmer under the sun; while grapes from mid to low-latitude, warm mediterranean or semi-desertic climates (with high solar radiation), bake in the heat.
    Wines from higher latitude regions, like Bordeaux and Bourgogne, with moderate solar radiation (higher relative humidity), are thinner, less concentrated, and oak adds structure, density, viscosity and color to the juice.
    Wines from mid-latitude, warmer areas with higher solar radiation readings are naturally denser, more viscous, and oak if not used judiciously, imparts an excess of wood derived flavors.

  12. Peter, you expressed the role of oak very nicely. Thanks.

  13. David, OMG tough questions! I would side with you: The winemaker interventions would allow the vineyard to shine.

  14. James Callahan says:

    Terroir to me is all encompassing. Definitions may state that it pertains to the location, soil, weather, etc. of the vineyard but I think it goes a step further.
    To me, every wine is a fingerprint – nothing is the same. It is hard to determine what characteristics of a given wine are imparted from a winemaker and what are found in the fruit. Oak is one of the easiest things to look for when assessing a wine. Other smaller factors such as yeast strains, fermentation temperatures, topping regiments, oxidation, fining, cap management, etc. etc etc. all play a role in creating a unique wine and are much harder to determine in the glass. The same goes for the vineyard. Trellising, fruit thinning, leaf plucking, chemical spraying, rootstocks, irrigation, spacing, pick date, etc. all have an affect as well.
    So with all of these factors involved in creating a unique wine, you have to pull out what factors are permanent and which are imparted from the winemaker. Not an easy task and most likely unable to be proven.
    You can put forward scientific explanations in attempts prove or disprove terroir but, unless the grapes are naturally growing on a planet with no human interaction, and native yeasts are fermenting the grapes as they fall on the ground next to the vine, you will never be able to taste the true terroir of the vine and location.

  15. First of all Steve, I agree with you on the over-oaking of chardonnay; I don’t see the need for it and I don’t care for it in my wines that I consume. I write “simply” about wine, and my readers seem to like that. They are just everyday wine drinkers, non pros. I encourage readers to thank the wine makers if they enjoy their craft, via email. I took my own advice and emailed David Munksgard of Iron Horse Vineyards. I forwarded him an article I’d written on thanking the winemaker on http://www.ebacchus.com He emailed me back and told me that I captured what it is like to be a wine maker in the piece. I love David’s latest vintage of Iron Horse Russian Cuvee and Wedding Cuvee.

  16. Lorrie, Iron Horse is on my list of faves also.

  17. On a similar note, Steve, what do you think about Rose` wines? Lately I’ve been on this kick of not wanting anything too serious. I’m into Angoves Nine Vines Rose and Montes the Syrah of Rose. I like Turkey Flat Rose, but it is a pricy at times.

  18. Lorrie, I love some of the French rosés from around Provence, but I’m not a big fan of California rosé. Most of them are too sweet and simple.

  19. Nick de Luca says:

    Steve,

    Seems to me that a lot of attention is paid to how a winemaker can or cannot blur the distinctiveness of a great terroir. What we never touch on enough is that a viticulturalist can REALLY blur the particular qualities of a fine vineyard. I could ramble on at length about the various offending techniques, but suffice it to say that far too much importance is offered the winemaker and his ability to interpret a terroir. It’s time that we consider the hand of the vineyard manager in this equation.

  20. Nick, of course you’re right, which is why I usually refer to “the winemaker and grower” when talking about these things. Can’t make great wine without great viticulture!

  21. There are some very thought provoking comments by some real winefolk here. Comments which could turn into new WineGrowing ideas. The roll of grower, winemaker and owner and their effects on a piece of dirt. The given variables… Dirt, clone, rootstock, available nutrients, water availability, trellis and row planting with relation to sun (east/west norht/south). The variables that change being the farming practices, seasonal weather patterns and the winemaker/owner’s desires.

    I think pondering from this perspective is a great start in creating vineyard expressive wines which is many of our goals. The key? Having control over the entire process. Nice one Steve.

  22. randy,
    are they indeed new winegrowing ideas, or simply IGNORED tenets of the past? i mean, the monks had it ALL going on, n’est-ce pas? with everything you mention, leading me to think it’s nothing new at all. but leaving me wondering, what the heck happened?

  23. James Callahan says:

    Stephanie,

    The monks had it right. Vignerons have had it right for a long time. The change was ushered in via the business aspect of the industry. Once the green. harsher, terroir driven flavors of wine are acceptable….terroir will truly be known by the populace. Until then….. the common and profitable market will dominate. Look to Cayuse out of Milton Freewater for a glimpse of the future.

  24. Randy–

    With all due respect, these ideas are not new to a lot of growers. I have been in this biz for several decades and all of those topics were alive when I started.

  25. Then Charlie,

    Where are these terroir-practices being implemented in contemporary California Winemaking? I smile when i read on some (corporate) winery’s websites talking about the importance of terroir and how “great wine begins in the vineyards” and then they oak the chit out of the wines, “hydrate” the grapes at crushpad cuz they harvested raisins, add bags of tartaric acid or worse yet knock down that beautiful natural acid becuase the owner’s wife doesn’t like “bitter” wines. “They’re actually winderfully tart I remember replying.” With all due respect, I feel it’s because of many of the older guys and gals… my father’s generation of winemakers and critics who’ve driven away from terroir-based winemaking and onto the great frontier of corporate, must-control-all-factors, bottom-lining winemaking. I was being a bit sarcastic when I wrote about the dirt, water etc. Of course it’s all about the vineyards and of course this has been going on for a very long time… Even before your time Charlie. My point is the Baby-Boomer winefolk decided to chart their own course which one could arge needs some redirecting. It’s easy to make recipe wine and it’s easier to market the stuff.

    Stephanie, that’s what the heck happened. The monks having it right is debatable, but they didn’t have all the tech or equip that’s avilable today. Aussie technology, winemakers thinking they know what’s best for the grapes and the appetite for all things green… and I’m not talking organic. Terroir-based winemaking was when people made wine mostly for the passion and the lifestyle… Engineered stuff is must more marketable, trainable and certainly profitable. Can you imagine if La Crema Pinot actually took on vintage variations? Think of all the marketing material and training that would be necessary if every year the wines tasted different… logistical nightmare, so instead they took on a beer-making model. Consistency. La Crema Pinot tastes like La Crema Pinot no matter the place no matter the vintage.

    I still think these are some good comments of which one can ponder. I feel like an 80 year old winemaker in a 36 year old body and mind.

  26. That’s funny Randy. I feel like a 36 year old writer in an 80 year old body.

    You and I hve little or no disagreement about large production winemaking. I do find differences in La Crema from year to year and from appellation to appellation, but I do not disagree, without knowing specifically about La Crema, that many large production wines are handled in ways that are intended to direct their character towards a specific and more or less consistent standard from year to year.

    Frankly, I don’t much care that they are. Those wines serve a very different purpose from the wines you are making. Ultimately, however, the question that wine drinkers ask themselves is not whether the wine has vineyard-based typicity but whether it tastes good.

    When you ask “Where are these terroir-practices being implemented in contemporary California Winemaking”, I can either say “all over the place” or I can give you a list of hundreds and hundreds of wineries and vineyards ranging from Au Bon Climat in the south to Black Kite in the north and all kinds of places in the between. Frankly, Randy, you know the answer. There is no use trying to pick on Kendall-Jackson products as if they represent all CA winemaking. They do not.

  27. Charlie, K-J’s Highlands Estates line represents very fine, single-vineyard, terroir-based winemaking.

  28. Jess Jackson thanks you.

    Certainly, things that have vineyard designations and are made in small lots like Matanzas Creek Jackson Park Merlot or Verite or those Highland Estates wines are a very different kind of wine from K-J Vint Res or La Crema or most of Murphy-Goode. The same is true for most labels that have long production items and short production items. And even lots of long production items do not get the hose or the bag acid to the extent that Randy indicates.

    Good example of that. Recent Mondavi NV Cabs, certainly a long production item, run over 15% alcohol. I asked head winemaker Genevieve Janssens about that at the Winewriters Symposium. She responded by saying that she would rather have slightly higher alcohol than to manipulate the wine either by de-alc or by the hose.

    The point you are really making, and with which I agree, is that trying to put all of CA winemaking into one big bag is very misleading.

  29. Hmm, I guess I need to get out more… or sir we define true terroir-driven winemaking differently. Why is it that many many wines from various wineries located throughout California SEEM to be making homogenously aromatic and flavored wines with only the slightest differentiation (due probably to bottle aging)? Similar to nearly exact brix at harvest? Similar new oak schedule? Same fermentation additive salesguy visiting them all and having sales success? When they do let me out to taste other wines, I feel at winery # one it’s already winery # four and “everything tastes the same”. My point is that, well if there’s so many wineries practicing true vineyard driven wine making, why does it all seem to taste the same? Or as I began this silly rant, do I need to get out more?

  30. Randy, here’s my take. They DO all seem to taste the same, that’s for sure. But it’s not simply a matter of tastes, or aromas and flavors. It’s structure. Flavor is easy to achieve, because ripeness is easy to achieve in California. What’s hard is structure — the overall package. This is where you get into conceptual territory, such as elegance, finesse, harmony and balance. That is what differentiates all these wines from each other.

  31. Good grief. There are unique and tasteable distinctions between RRV Pinots from different parts of that AVA let alone from Carneros or SLH or SRH. Steve, I know you know this. These wines do not taste the same. It is not just structure. It is also the way they express their fruit. Westside Road Pinot simply does not taste like Freestone Pinot. Pinot from the north end of SLH is simply different from the Pinot at Pisoni on the south end. Santa Maria Valley Pinot is not just higher in pH than SRH Pinot. It has a different taste profile.

    And, Randy, if you as a Sonoma County winemaker do not understand this basic situation in your own neck of the woods, then you do really need to get out in your own neighborhood let alone in the rest of California. This “they all taste the same” stuff is demonstrably observable, and it is not just structure that keeps them apart. Pinot Noir, just to use the one grape in this conversation, has many possible expressions and they vary from place to place depending on soils, exposure, temperature and even the hand of man–in other words, they are expressions of “terroir”.

    Now, I will agree absolutely that excessive manipulation and blending can trump terroir, and Randy is right to the extent he is talking about wines that are not terroir driven, but when Randy asks “Why does it all seem to taste the same”, I have to ask if he has ever tasted the Pinots of Williams Selyem. The wines from the Westside Road area are simply different from the wines from the western reaches of Sonoma County–even under the same winemaking regimen which includes a fair bit of oak.

  32. Charlie, what you say is true, and yet I think there are more similarities than differences. Pinot Noir being more transparent tends to show differences more clearly than Cabernet Sauvignon. I think most California Cabs do taste alike, because everybody’s making them in the same way. Blackberries, blackcurrants, chocolate, anise, pepper, toast, sometimes cherries and that’s pretty much it. (I’m talking about clean, well-made wines, not Cabs with flaws.) So you have to look beyond flavors to structure, tannins, TA, acidity, the proper use of oak, things like that. Structure to me is what differentiates grand crus from also rans.

  33. I may be getting a little too picky here, but I would argue that there is a significant, recognizable difference between the character of the wines on the West Rutherford Bench and the wines from Rutherford’s east side near the Silverado Trail. The so-called Rutherford Dust phenomenon disappears way over on the east side and a more concentrated black cherry quality appears. I agree that there are structural changes but the fruit expression, the terroir if you will, is different.

    We can agree that Cabernet does have the characteristics you mention. It is, after all, a grape with a very strong personality. And so the argument that there are strong similarities at one level does not make Randy, who brought this up in the first place, right that all CA wines are functionally alike. If grapes were required to have totally different flavor and aromatic characteristics from place to place, we would be unable to define varietal character in any meaningful way.

    To put it another way, in the Medoc, most wines still are recognizably based on Cabernet Sauvignon and that recognition goes hand in hand with the recognition of CS in Napa or Happy Canyon in Sta Barb Co or even some hospitable places in Paso (see Justin). Randy’s phrasng is intentionally pejorative and does nothing to recognize the differences that exist. Its obvous that there must be similarities, but it is equally obvious that there are recognizable differences from place to place, but differences that fall within recognized and accepted parameters.

  34. Charlie, I can’t speak for Ron, but I don’t think he said all CA wines are functionally alike. But I, who taste probably more than 5000 wines a year, do find a distressing similarity. Part of the reason is that everyone’s making the same 4 or 5 varieties. Part of it is similar clones, similar viticultural and winemaking techniques, similar ripeness, similar oak, etc. etc. etc. Having said that, I can find the same flavors in 2 different wines and give one 86 points while the other gets 100 points. Like I said, for me it’s all about structure.

  35. Steve–

    Randy’s argument is just four above this one. He says there are no vineyard driven wines because everything tastes the same.

    Your point seems to ignore his whole rationale which is that winemaking is getting in the way of vineyard driven character. My point is that one can taste, as I did today, five Williams Selyem Pinots, all with the same oak, the same alc and one presumes the same yeasts, temperature controls, etc, and they are all different–and it is not just structure that makes them different. The source makes them different. Randy argues that source is being killed at every level when he says ” … why does it all seem to taste the same? ”

    I humbly disagree. It does not all taste the same. And, I now leave this topic. You get the last word as host and we move on. Thanks for letting me play.

  36. Hi Charlie, well I tasted the same Williams Selyem Pinots. Coincidence? I think not! Anyway I was less than impressed with some of them, especially given the prices. They are trading on the WS name for these appellation bottlings. Do you agree? Anyway, of course they’re different. My scores had wide ranges. BUT the underlying flavors are the same: cherries, raspberries, cola, with oak, however you describe it. That’s all I’m saying.

  37. Steve, you are describing Pinot Noir, mostly as it is expressed in Sonoma County in cool areas. Would you expect them to be different.

    So, yes we agree that there are similarities. But, go back to Randy’s comments and use “all the same the way he does” and I think you will have to admit that the character is different becausae vineyards near to each other express the grape differently enough to pick them apart–which is to say that there are significant enough differences to not brand them “all the same” pejoratively. In my opinion, of course.

  38. jaimehall says:

    Good example of that. Recent Mondavi NV Cabs, certainly a long production item, run over 15% alcohol. I asked head winemaker Genevieve Janssens about that at the Winewriters Symposium. She responded by saying that she would rather have slightly higher alcohol than to manipulate the wine either by de-alc or by the hose. voegwerken

  39. James Callahan says:

    The monks had it right. Vignerons have had it right for a long time. The change was ushered in via the business aspect of the industry. Once the green. harsher, terroir driven flavors of wine are acceptable….terroir will truly be known by the populace. Until then….. the common and profitable market will dominate. Look to Cayuse out of Milton Freewater for a glimpse of the future.

  40. I think a well made wine will always reflect the vineyard regardless of weather it is made by people in a winery or by the magical wine gnomes that apparently make wines in these non-interventionist temples I read so much about(mostly in winery sales literature).

  41. First, terrior. Two weekends ago, we took 10 lots of Thomson Vineyards Napa Carneros Chardonnay that went out late September/October 2009 to 10 different winemakers from North Napa all the way to San Francisco. That’s 10 different “styles”, processes, skill levels, (there were start ups and there were well established guys in the mix) etc. This was the first time in a long time we’ve set them all up side by side and attempted to determine what characteristics could truly be attributed to the vineyard site.

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