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Saturday, September 27, 2008

Is the hallowed sense of minerality the key to terroir?


When I ask the terroirists if they had to reduce a wine’s transparent expression of site to one element, the response is generally broken down to mineral character. I suppose this rationale elucidates why minerality is a feature that is so sought after from a vigneron’s perspective, particularly if it’s believed to represent what a vine’s roots have to say if they can dig deeply enough to speak. That concept alone seems to evoke an inherent sense of profundity, as if the penetrating vine was akin to a human that had more interesting things to say than its superficial neighbors.

I suppose my own digging has left me w/ a few more questions. Can a wine be reflective of a unique site without possessing minerality? Can a wine showcase terroir brilliantly sans underlying mineral tone? Are these mutually exclusive inquiries?

I tend to find a much greater sense of minerality in thin skinned grapes from cooler sites, so would a thicker skinned varietal w/ an added dose of ripeness be ‘less reflective’ of its terroir simply because we fail to detect minerality?

These questions, from my standpoint, don’t go further into the realm of superiority. To my way of thinking, wines can be great w/ or w/o minerality and w/ or w/o a firm sensation of terroir. I don’t deny that a connection to a particular site is a provocative one that strikes me as having a singular integrity, but I don’t think it is an obligatory aspect of making great wine.

So to clarify, what I seek further understanding of is the link between minerality & terroir, perhaps from a perspective that is a bit less linear than minerality + wine = terroir.

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