Let's play wine

If there is a word that has been discussed quite extensively recently by wine people causing various reactions each time, that is terroir.  It's a French term that does not have a corresponding word in English. It mainly indicates the particular natural environment and more specifically the climate, the topography and the soil of a specific region, whose combination and interaction amongst them influence the way in which the various grape varieties grow and, by extension, the organoleptic quality of the wines which they produce.  Within the framework of this approach, a terroir wine could be considered wine which uniquely reflects the characteristics of the wine region that it comes from and wine whose character cannot possibly be reproduced accurately in another wine from another area even if the two plots are adjacent to each other.


Nevertheless, the interpretations are often different and more rather than few wine producers, mainly from the New World, raise the issue of the degree to which the terroir itself can determine the production of high-quality wines.  Here, the human factor plays a decisive role, even though some people do not include it in the group of elements that define the notion of terroir.  On the other hand, producers mainly from the Old World believe that man, in this case, is called upon to play the role of helper and regulator of a process which apparently seems to be Nature’s affair.


Whatever the reasons that explain the ability to produce a high-quality wine with the terroir theory lurking in the background or not, they all have one thing in common, a fundamental denominator which is no other but the ability of the consumer/wine lover to perceive and interpret the concept discussed.  The inability to scientifically prove the way in which the mechanism of the terroir works can indeed cause confusion.  However, it leaves room for its romantic aspect to develop, which not only does it not lessen its value but it reinforces it even more, as the majority of people who deal with wine or simply enjoy it recognize its value as something over and above any given theories.


So, the paradox, maybe even magical in what we call terroir is not the interpretation itself but the way in which we perceive wine in our conscience and life as one of the most precious and authentic goods of the physical world we live.