“Terroir” a term that is found on majority of wine labels around the world but it is that one word which is also the least understood in the wine world.

“Terroir” a French originating word which does not have a direct single English word translation, as it covers a magnitude of factors. In simple terms, a terroir means the earth or soil. For the wine world, terroir stands for the both the region and the aromas represented by the place and the land where the vines are grown.  There are four traits of terroir that have been identified in this chapter; namely the climate, soil, terrain and tradition.

The Climate

A wine region is classified under two types of climate; Warm Climate Wines or Cool Climate Wines. The climate where the vines are planted is the first factor that influences the aromas of a wine. Grapes from a warmer climate region will display less acidity in the wine with high levels of sugar thus containing higher level of alcohol and tannin driven wines. On the contrary, cool climate wines are known to retain higher fruit acidity, less sugar levels and thereby more fruit aromatic driven. For example a great exercise is to compare the taste of a Cabernet Sauvignon from the Southern Highlands cool region to a Cabernet Sauvignon grown in the Hunter Valley (warm climate). You will instantly see how your taste buds start reacting differently for the same grape varietal but from different climate region. 

 The Soil

In the wine world, there are hundreds of different types of soil that affect the taste of the wine. Soil is one of the key components when a wine marker or wine bottle claims the wine to ‘exhibit terroir beautifully’. The makeup of a soil for vineyard is highly crucial to understand as one part of the vineyard can be suitable of a particular grape however it wouldn’t be the same for another. For example, a terroir consisting of volcanic soil displays more minerality in the soil whilst sandy soils tend to retain more heat and great for bolder red or white wines.

The Terrain

Another factor in a wine terroir influencing the character of a wine is believe it or not the Terrain. The level of elevation, the flora and fauna of the region, the presence of water bodies to the extent of drainage of the slopes the vines grow on impact the taste of wine from that particular region.

The Tradition

Last but not the least, the tradition of wine making techniques also contributed to overall terroir of the wine.  This is very much depicted between the “new world” wines to “old world” wines. The wine making techniques implemented in a region is also defined by the terroir of the region.

Though the concept of terroir can be far more complicated and confusing than stated above but it is simply how your region of wine making is communicated in your wines. So let’s get tasting and exploring various wines from different region.


Source: winefolly.com; winecompanion.com.au; thewinegallery.com.au