Terroir is a myth, new book claims
Terroir –the concept that says a wine is able to express the environment in which it is made – is a myth, a controversial new book has claimed.
6th April, 2016 by Neal Baker
Terroir and Other Myths of Winegrowing challenges several longstanding wine rules and rituals, including the yield vs quality debate and the notion of vines being “balanced”.
But arguably the most contentious claims made by author Mark Matthews, Professor of Viticulture and Enology at the University of California, is his contending the impact of terroir on wine.
Terroir is considered as the characteristic taste and flavour imparted to a wine by the environment – soil, topography and climate – in which it is produced.
It forms one of the main aspects of conventional winemaking theory, and winemakers often strive to convey terroir as prominently as possible in their wines.
However, it is one of modern winemaking’s most abused terms, Matthews argues, and the contemporary use of ‘terroir’ does not reflect its original meaning, which was to detect the impact of manure on a wine’s flavour, the book says.
Similarly, Matthews states that soil cannot impact a wine’s flavour. This goes against the full weight of the winemaking industry, especially in the Old World nations.
He says that next to no flavour-related compounds are brought to the grape through the roots of a vine, and therefore it cannot affect the taste of a wine.
Terroir, rather than being an accurate word used to determine tangible differences in wines from different regions, is arguably an “marketing ploy that obscures understanding”, the Matthews says.
Terroir and Other Myths of Winegrowing, published by University of California Press, is available to purchase from local and online book retailers in several markets, and is priced at around £20.00.
Origin information: The Drink Business