Terroir is a French word with no literal translation in English and the closes we can come to is “earth”, “soil”, or “place”. This word is tossed around all of the time. Some think it is just a French marketing term while others really believe in the concept of Terroir. I am not here to debate, just to educate.
Years ago, the French noted that the same grape varietal grown in different regions, vineyards and even blocks within a vineyard produced different flavors and wine qualities.The word Terroir is used to express these regional differences. It is not an expression of quality.
So Terroir is basically all of the environmental factors that affect the quality and characteristics of a wine based upon where it is grown. These factors include the soil, slope, orientation, water, drainage, wind, and other flora and fauna. Humans are also included in Terroir since they choose what to plant and how to plant it.
From a scientific point of view, we know that certain varietals grow better in certain climates; just as oranges grow better in Florida than Alaska. So we can begin to understand that the characteristics of a varietal has depends upon the place it is grown.
We have a great example of this available in the Tasting Room. Our new 2014 Lake County Malbec is packed with fresh fruit, raspberry and black cherries reminding both Lisa and I of an old fashioned candy story. It is fruity and fun and sips so nicely.Did you know that over 75% of all Malbec wine is imported from Argentina? Argentina typically is a much warmer climate producing wines with more plum, blackberry, violets and leather; this is a completely different flavor profile from ours. You have to come taste our difference.
How do we explain the differences in regional taste? Some would say Terroir, some would say Not.