Tout savoir sur le vin et le terroir !

Everything you need to know about wine and the terroir!

If each wine is so strongly marked by its own characteristics, it is thanks to many factors, such as the climate, the grape variety, the type of soil and the know-how of the winemaker. All these elements form what we call terroir, and define the typicality of a wine. Let's discover the notion of terroir , and its importance in the making of wine .

Local wine: definition

Initially, the term "terroir" is a word specifically used in the world of wine . Today, it is also used to describe all agricultural products produced on the same land. But, to stay in the sphere of wine, in a fairly global way, when a winemaker, a viticulturist or an oenologist refers to the terroir, he evokes the environment in which the wine is made . In fact, the concept of terroir is a little more complex, and includes several elements:

  • The type of soil on which the vine is grown;
  • The climate of the wine region;
  • The type of grape variety (grape variety);
  • The know-how of man and his various interventions throughout the making of wine.

All these elements, which form a terroir, have a major role in the design of terroir wines , because they provide specificities that will not be found anywhere else. This is often why we say that a wine is the expression of the terroir .

Finally, terroirs are not just reduced to a plot of vines, because they also include human factors and natural parameters which make up the typicality of the wine.

The particularities of the wine terroirs

The quality and typicality of a wine depend on many factors, all of which are linked to the terroir. So, whether to produce rosé wines, white wines or red wines, the terroir influences the organoleptic character of the wine in many respects. And you will quickly discover that each factor has a direct link with all the other factors.

The different types of soil

The soil and subsoil of a vineyard are essential in the development of the vines, and influence the qualities of the wine. Indeed, to grow, the vines plunge their roots deep into the soil , to draw the minerals, trace elements and water they need. The poorer the soil, the deeper the vine will have to go to feed itself. Growth is then slower, and maturation is earlier and longer. Vines particularly appreciate poor, even arid soils.

If the soil is too rich, the roots do not need to develop, the growth of the vine will be much too rapid and dense, which will limit the quality of the grape berries.

Thus, the same grape variety grown on different soils does not produce the same wine at all.

The different grape varieties

Not all grape varieties adapt to all soils. Some prefer poor soils, others thrive on rich soils. The winemaker must pay attention to this to adapt the grape variety to the type of soil . But, once again, this is not the only criterion, and the grape variety must also be chosen according to the climate of the wine-growing region . Indeed, if certain varieties of grapes appreciate hot and humid climates, for example, others produce better grapes in a cold and dry climate.

It is also partly for this reason that the specifications of the appellations (AOP, IGP, etc.) stipulate precisely which grape varieties are authorized or not to qualify for the label.

The different climates

As we have just seen, the climate of the wine-growing regions also plays a major role in the terroir of a wine. Depending on the grape variety, it conditions the development of the vine, but also the ripening of the fruits. The concept of climate then includes temperature , precipitation , sunshine , wind and humidity .

The slightest variation can have consequences on the quality of the wine. We can also see this very clearly with the vintages . If, from one year to the next, a producer can produce great wines or unpretentious vintages, it is essentially because of variations in the weather.

The different topographies

The topography of the wine landscape also plays an important role in the definition of a terroir and in the typicity of its wines. Indeed, rivers, mountains, plains, or even valleys can influence the development of the vine, in particular by creating a microclimate.

For example, a wine produced at altitude, on a slope, and due north, will not have the same sunlight as a vineyard in the same wine-growing region, located in the plain or near a lake.

The intervention of man

Finally, the last factor that defines a terroir is the know-how of the winemaker . It is he who will use his experience and regional traditions to choose the right grape variety, define the stages of maintaining the vine, choose the date of the harvest, determine the blends and winemaking techniques... So many crucial stages which will give all the originality of a wine.

The terroir, one of the main foundations of an AOC

Some wine lovers can sometimes confuse the notion of terroir and that of an AOC. The controlled designation of origin (AOC) is a label that governs viticulture in France. In Europe, we rather speak of protected designation of origin (PDO). Concretely, wine references bearing an AOC express the quality and inimitable character of the wine , linked to its origin. This label then meets strict specifications, established by the INAO (National Institute of Appellations of Origin).

Thus, the terroir is one of the basic elements of the AOC, since it reflects the typicality of the wine, with regard to the soils, the grape varieties, the climate and the human intervention which are necessary for its production.

To be a little more precise, we can even say that the terroir and the AOC are not so different, since the terroir works in the service of the appellation, and vice versa.

The terroir of a wine then reveals the characteristics of the climate, soil and grape varieties of a wine region, as well as the know-how of the wine producer. At the Berne estate, the winegrowers work to transmit in their wines all the richness of the terroir and the tradition of Provence . Then go to the estate for a tasting workshop of exceptional Provençal wines.

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