Terroir

by Staff Writer - K. Ash | June 14, 2012

The term terroir describes characteristics imparted to a wine by the unique conditions found within the climate, geography and geology of a winemaking area. Terroir is a French word derived from terre, which means land. Often, terroir is colloquially translated as a sense of place.

Terroir is a concept that is integrated with the Appellation d'origine controlee system of France. The concept of terroir assumes that the land responsible for grape growth provides characteristics specific to the land. Actions taken during grape growth and wine processing can amplify or retard the effects of terroir. Decisions including pruning, irrigation, canopy management, harvest dates, maceration lengths, temperature control, chaptalization and clarification can all alter the effect of terroir. The vintner must decide ahead of time if the produced wine will focus on the uniqueness of the region. Conversely, the vintner may decide to forgo emphasizing on terroir preservation and instead produce a wine without focusing on the uniqueness of the region. The concept of terroir is noticeable in foreign wine regions such as the United States. Many United States wines present characteristics that reveal a distinction of place. However, wine regulations and labeling systems of the United States focus on the variety of grape rather than terroir.

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