Terroir, desirable or despicable? | New Brief out, #156 | The Wine Newsletter

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Per Karlsson portrait Britt Karlsson portraitTerroir, desirable or despicable?

It is interesting to see how a word can be reassessed. Take the word terroir. A word that every wine lover uses about ten times a day. And always in a very positive spirit. A wine that tastes of its terroir is a successful wine, a wine that stands out, a wine which reveals its origin. This is the general opinion. When did the meaning of the word change?

In the 1800s terroir taste in a wine was absolutely not positive. Goût de terroir, terroir taste, was found mostly in simply wines and it made them almost undrinkable. A wine with terroir taste was defective, more or less.

The French talked about goût de terroir as late as the 1970s. If you read the New Encyclopedia of Wines & Spirits by Alexis Lichine (Bordeaux-profile and wine book author) from 1974 it says nothing about the word terroir, but the following about goût de terroir: “In French this means, literally, earthy taste; it denotes a peculiar flavour imparted by certain soils, and not the taste of the soil itself.”

Which soils are to blame we do not know. Probably poor winemaking was to blame, not the soils. Now, the meaning of the word terroir has changed. A terroir wine may not always reveal its origin in a blind tasting. But it has something special, which is often difficult to describe. Just as the French dictionary Larousse says in 1982: “goût de terroir gives a distinctive, special, almost indescribable, taste.”

Let us simply say that terroir wines are the opposite of streamlined and boring.

Today it is purely positive with “terroir” and many of the best producers are proud over the terror character in their wines.

You will get many excellent examples of that on our wine tours. The spring program is almost ready and you can find the preliminary dates in the Brief. There is still also some openings to join us on the South Africa tour in March, a tour that now has both a safari and a golf add-on option.

And don’t forget to “like” us on Facebook!

Britt & Per

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