Location, location, location. Understanding Terroir.
Have you have seen this word before? Maybe in a wine review or on a wine list? It sounds fancy but stay with me because understanding terroir is crucial to your wine journey.
Terroir (pronounced as tehr-WAHR) is a French word that has no literal English translation but is defined by “a sense of place”.
Think of it this way: If I have two identical tomato seeds and I plant one seed in Georgia and the other in New Jersey, are those tomatoes going to taste the same? You would answer “of course not” and then I would ask you why. You would begin to rattle off a list of things like: sunlight, rainfall, soil type, slope of the land, weather, climate, etc.
You just defined why one place is unlike any other place—and that’s terroir.
It is all the geographical factors that contribute to/affect the end result of a wine and believe me, no one is as big on terroir as the French. If a French winemaker is growing chardonnay in one plot of land, he wants you to know that if you drive two miles in another direction? That is not his wine.
Terroir is serious business. What Mother Nature provides and denies is everything.
The importance of terroir is evident in places like Hermitage seen above (located in the northern Rhône in France). The vines are grown on a hill with very steep sides. When it rains, the soil begins to flow downward but it is quickly chased, collected in buckets and brought back. That soil and everything in it is what makes wines from Hermitage among some of the most sought after wines in the world.
Wine is a lot like real estate. Location, location, location.