Freshness and minerality – What does the word mineral mean?

What’s in a word? What is “minerality” in a wine?

A bottle in the vineyard

A bottle in the vineyard, copyright BKWine Photography

It is very fashionable nowadays to talk about the minerality of a wine. It is easy to describe a wine as having minerality but it is more difficult to explain what it really means.  Wine tasters in all countries use the word. In the past, they never did. It is a word that has appeared out of the blue in recent years and it makes you wonder how you described these wines in the past. Or is the taste, like the word, a new phenomenon?

The chemical company Lallemand has made an interesting investigation into this matter and we read about it in the last issue of La Vigne (No. 239). Lallemand has looked at numerous tasting notes made by the American magazine Wine Spectator and found that 10% of the comments contain the word “minerality”. The word occurs more frequently than oaky, fruity and floral. The results were similar results for the English magazine Decanter and their tasting notes.

But when the tasters are asked to explain what they mean by the word and where they think the minerality comes from, well, they are not so sure. No one knows, although most believe that it comes from the soil.

We believe that minerality, wherever it comes from, gives liveliness to the wine, a certain sharpness, which means that you do not get tired of the wine. A wine that we describe as having minerality has a pleasant acidity and a certain austerity. And it is always very positive.

Soil in the hands of the winemaker

Soil in the hands of the winemaker, copyright BKWine Photography

This post is also available in: Swedish

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One Response to Freshness and minerality – What does the word mineral mean?

  1. Karl MyWinePal April 9, 2012 at 22:28 #

    When I write that a wine has a mineral streak, I get a certain saltiness, much like you get from mineral water.

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