Wine Word of the Week: Terroir



By Kori ~ March 6th, 2012.

This week’s Wine Word of the Week is terroir.

Official definition from Jancis Robinson’s The Oxford Companion to Wine:
Terroir is a much-discussed term for the total natural environment of any viticultural site. No precise English equivalent exists for this quintessentially French term and concept. …. Major components of terroir are soil (as the word suggests) and local topography, together with their interactions with each other and with macroclimate to determine mesoclimate and vine microclimate. The holistic combination of all these is held to give each site its own unique terroir, which is reflected in its wines more or less consistently from year to year, to some degree regardless of variations in methods of viticulture and wine-making. Thus every plot, and in generic terms every larger area, and ultimately region, may have distinctive wine-style characteristics which cannot be precisely replicated elsewhere. The extent to which terroir effects are unique is, however, debatable, and of course commercially important, which makes the subject controversial.

Layman’s terms from Kori:
Terroir is a French term used to describe the soil composition, topography, and climate/weather for a particular viticultural site that some believe imparts unique characteristics on the grapes and, thus, the wines from that site.


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