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Monday, October 24, 2011

Red Mountain Uncorked: Terroir Hunting at Terra Blanca

People [okay mostly cork-dorks] often talk about "terroir" and can often be heard around the local wine-bar or the proverbial wine-cooler saying things like "wow, this wine is really terroir driven" or you may see in tasting notes, wow wonderful minerality as a descriptor of the wine they are drinking. But what does that mean? Is it just wine-nerd talk or does it really mean something to the wine in your glass? 

Some say yes and some will say undoubtedly no and add further it is suggested by some that if one believes minerality [a word not found in the dictionary] can be tasted in the wine, then you're one of two things; either a snob attempting lord knowledge over folks or you just don't have a clue about what you're talking about. To see that discussion and make up your own mind, click the link above to read Jancis Robinsons take on whether minerality is a real or contrived characteristic to be found in wine.

Perhaps, before you finish reading this post, you may want to pop over to this link for a fast and easy one paragraph definition of the what terrior means, it gives a great baseline of information to see where I'm attempting to go with this post [I hope you will find it helpful].

If you're drinking mainly commodity wines [jug or box wines], which indicate on the label that the fruit used to produce the wine in the bottle comes only from geographic area known as California for example, then you're not going to be able to appreciate or perceive any real influence of terroir in my opinion.

On the other hand if you're wine drinker who mostly consumes estate produced wines from places like the Red Mountain AVA for example you are going to start seeing a trend in the flavor profile of these wines. A uniquely Red Mountain profile that you that you won't sense when drinking wines produced from the Oakville AVA in Napa, for example. Both have some very unique soils and both produce very different styles of wines, of course terroir is not the only influence to affect the overall flavor profile you experience.

If you want to put this theory to the test; grab a bottle of a estate wine from both regions, pick a producer like Terra Blanca and one from Bobby Mondavi's place in the Napa Valley, decant, serve blind and then compare and contrast. I'm pretty sure you will see the differences that soil-types can play on what happens with the grapes final product, the finished wine in your glass.

So if you remember I recently spent a week on Red Mountain with fantastic folks at Terra Blanca who generously hosted me the entire visit. The video I produced while I was there can be watched below, I think it will really help most folks to understand the impact of soil type on wine and why it's important to delineate between one AVA and another. Watch the video below to see how that difference is made in the overall flavor profiles of the [distinctiveness] wines you drink.

Big thanks to Keith Pilgrim, Terra Blanca's owner and winemaker who starred in this video and the entire wonderfully professional staff at Terra Blanca for putting up with me for an entire week and their very kind hospitality. I had a great time and learned so much from my visit and hope I will be invited back next year, perhaps I could stay a little longer, work as a harvest intern for the season. Until next time folks sip long and prosper, cheers!

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