It was spring break of my last year in college (let’s just say sometime in the beginning of the previous decade). While most pleasure-seeking youngsters of my day were angling at ways to get themselves down to Cancun or Ft. Lauderdale for some serious MTV-style merrymaking, me and some fellow winemaking students at University were embarking on a journey of enological proportions.
Gazing at my Carte Géologique de l’Hermitage, with its rainbow of hues signifying 12 soil types organized into three main epochal groups, I marvel at the adaptability of Syrah, its chameleon-like ability to express a delicious range of flavors. Hermitage is unusual due to the variety of her soils, an accident of geology and history.
Why do winegrowers and winemakers-especially Pinot growers-harp on about how cold their vineyard is compared to others? Is this a male ego thing? “Yeah, well I picked 2 weeks later than you, bucko, so I am cooler than you,”
Terroir is generally defined as the sum total of all the natural features of a site – topography, geology, soil depth and type, general climate, and microclimate – that impart a distinctiveness to the wine by influencing the grapevine’s growth and physiological capability to ripen grapes.
It is difficult to write about winemaking without writing about growing grapes. For us, winemaking is winegrowing, we approach it as one integral process rather than simply two separate, sequential processes.
When Nick and I were looking for land we tasted wines from many winegrowing regions with the hope of uncovering what accounted for the characteristics in Pinot noir and Chardonnay we admired.