The Idea of Terroir
I've been having a difficult time with this concept, not because I don't believe in it, but because I see it as so esoteric for the average person, including me, as to be irrelevant. The problem is that as terroir relates to the expression of a specific place and time through a grape into wine, it would be impossible to be able to understand this expression, to know what it is, unless a person has a vast amount of experience with a specific site. A good example would be a grower/winemaker who works with a site over many years, or a Sommelier who might have exposure to the wines of the same vineyard over time, but few of us will ever have this luxury, opportunity. What then are we to make of terroir? How can it be used in a meaningful way for the rest of us? I'd like to offer that perhaps we could use it as a descriptor for something unique. This is likely going to exclude fruit components or things that express typicity. Typicity in say a Syrah, might include blue fruits, flowers, meat, smoke and herbs. Once these "elements-of-typicity" are subtracted from the wine, terroir can become obvious. Maybe this would be a more successful way to incorporate the term in the assessment of a wine, or maybe not. Maybe it's an idea that can only truly be understood and used by the very few who get the chance to taste the same wines year after year after year. But I hope not.