Bordogne: column Ilja Gort

Bordogne: column Ilja Gort

Ask any winemaker what makes his wine so special, why his wine is so incomparably different (and, of course, better) from any other wine in the world, and he will mysteriously squeeze one eye shut, glance over his shoulder for a moment and, after a telling pause, hoarsely whisper the magic word: 'Terroir.' An untranslatable word found exclusively in French. The short version of the description below explains the rational components of this term, but in conversations with winegrowers, much more is added; right down to the bacteria in the wine cellar, but we won't venture into that for now. - TEXT ILJA GORT | IMAGE PEXELS.COM


Making wine with character requires four elements: good soil; the location of that piece of land in relation to the sun, the grape variety that thrives on it and a suitable climate. These four elements together are what the French call terroir. That gives the unique flavour to a wine, that makes the difference between wine from Bordeaux or from Burgundy. Even more accurately, terroir determines the tasting difference between one half of a vineyard and another.

An unmentioned but essential component of terroir is people. The knowledge, traditions and working methods applied while tilling the vineyard, and the method of harvesting and discipline around vinification, are all factors that collectively determine the typicality of a wine. But as wonderful as all that is, number one is the type of soil and the type of vine that does well or badly in that soil.



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