Terroir, More Than Just a Trendy Term!
“Terroir is a French term that simply means ‘a sense of place’… Terroir at its most basic is a belief that the land and climate where the grapes are grown impart unique characteristics into the grape that could not be imparted by any other region of the world.”
And there is science behind the idea of terroir-driven flavor and aromas.
Well, it comes down to geology and the type of soil in any given region. The bedrock determines water retention, and which nutrients will be found in the topsoil.
But can a wine actually reflect it’s region with accuracy? Wine Spectator reports that Francesco Foroni (a researcher at Australian Catholic University in Strathfield, Australia, and SISSA in Trieste, Italy) recently completed a study on whether you can taste terroir.
Scientists in Italy tested the notion that wines from different regions can be distinguished solely by their aromatics. Turns out that yes, they can.
The study was titled “The smell of terroir! Olfactory discrimination between wines of different grape variety and different terroir.” (A little wordy, maybe, but we’d have signed up. Bet we’d have seen you there. Especially when you consider participants got to sample some 96 pairs of Merlots and Carbernet Sauvignons.)
The 32 panelists got it right significantly more often than random chance. They found different terroirs more often than distinctions between varietals. The hit rate was best when both the region and varietal were different.
Unlike most previous tests on wine flavor (not terroir focused tastings) the amateurs actually matched with, and sometimes outdid, the experts.
Actually, that’s good news. The result that novices did just as well as professionals underlines the point that even an untrained palate can tell differences in both terroir and varietal.
We may need to host a small, informal gathering and tasting between friends, and taste the terroir.
You know. For science.