A Super Quick Primer On "Terroir"

 
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Terroir, pronounced “tear-WAHr,” is a French word that doesn’t directly translate into English but is usually taken to mean “sense of place.”

It refers to the conditions and variables of a specific place where vines are grown — from the general characteristics of a larger region (e.g. southern Rhone) to those of a small appellation* (e.g. La Romanée in Burgundy is about the size of a city block.)

We’re talking things like
climate,
rainfall,
topography,
soil type,
elevation and aspect of the vineyard,
and also the winemaking tradition in the region.

The idea is that these things are so specific to a place that they define the characteristics of grapes grown there (and hence the wine).

So next time a winemaker talks about wanting a wine to “express terroir,” you’ll know what they mean.

*another French word, meaning a delineated wine region, defined by a governing agency

P.S. Come taste what we mean by “terroir” at our class on pinot noir next Sunday! We’ll be doing side-by-side tastings of pinot noirs from Burgundy and Oregon, and you’ll learn how terroir makes each pinot distinct.

Get tickets! >>>

Mallory SmithComment