What all the ins and outs of a terroir study mean to the wine lover

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Posted10/28/2020 6:00 AM

New World science is one step closer to proving what Old World winegrowers have banked their family's survival on for centuries. Specifically, "persistent and stable elemental fingerprints of wines at a sub-regional level ... can be distinguished using multivariate statistical methods (multivariate analysis of variance (MANOVA) and canonical variate analysis (CVA)."

Let me translate: Place matters.

 

For instance, we accept Idaho as a place to grow potatoes. What about Michigan potatoes and Idaho apples? Would you await the seasons of Vidalia cherries and Wisconsin onions?

In wine speak, it's called terroir (pronounced tear-WHAR), the tenet that a vineyard's soil, climate and every minute factor thereof have a primary impact on the grapes grown therein. Primarily, Champagne is uniquely Champagne due to the region's chalky soil and frigid climate. Pinot Noir wines grown in Oregon, California and Burgundy (France) each have a unique flavor. The primary influence on the grape is its terroir.

While it's a French word, terroir is universally accepted amongst winegrowers, wine aficionado's and sommeliers sweating their next tasting exam.

It is accepted maybe, never proven until now.

You can read the ground-breaking terroir study "The Use of Macro, Micro, and Trace Elemental Profiles to Differentiate Commercial Single Vineyard Pinot Noir" at https://www.mdpi.com/1420-3049/25/11/2552/htm.

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Or maybe you'd rather explore the yummy and beautifully-crafted wines of Dutton-Goldfield Winery, located in California's Russian River Valley.

The good news about Dutton-Goldfield (DG) is that wines tasted over the years consistently offer the most precise and delicious expressions of terroir this palate has recently experienced, including bottling of:

Pinot Noir: With grapes sourced from Dutton Ranch -- comprised of eighty small vineyards -- as well as spectacular parcels in Marin County, Sonoma Coast and Anderson Valley, DG's various bottlings can be a vinous ètude for the ardent student of Pinot Noir. The Freestone Hill bottling, for instance, offers alluring flavors of ripe forest berries and exotic spice with long and sinewy texture; by Day Two, flavors expand to include black licorice and texture softens to well-worn leather gloves. DG's website recipe page recommends it with Grilled Quail with Goji Berries and Pine Nuts, but if your personal Chef is off this weekend, serve this or any DG Pinot Noir with rich seafood, lighter meats or your favorite Chinese take-out.

Chardonnay: Learn to love Chardonnay with DG. While each vineyard selection expresses subtleties of terroir, all brim with ripe stone and tree fruit woven with subtle oak, showcased by bright acidity, simultaneously rich and refreshing. Serve as a luxurious cocktail and with dishes incorporating butter or cow's milk cheese.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Pinot Blanc: When serving egg dishes, don't even bother with any grape other than Pinot Blanc. DG's balances ripe stone fruit with tingling minerality to enrich Eggs Benedict and other elegant egg dishes and to perk up a simple sunny side up on a morning after the night before.

Rosè of Pinot Noir: A silky robe of flavor to drape your palate with stone fruit, strawberries, brown spice and white pepper. This is a food-rosè, a lip-smacker for rich appetizers, seafood, meats (I enjoyed mine with Southeast Asian-seasoned pork chops) and a crowd-pleaser for Turkey Time.

The not-so-good news is that DG wines are produced in such small quantities, they sell out before shipping past California state lines.

Good or bad, we're all buying a lot more wine online than we ever imagined, and DG is taking orders!

For your next spree, look into DG's website loaded with a Shop for current releases, in-depth explorations of Dutton Ranch and its vineyards, and DG's Wine Club offering the most sought-after bottlings and extras, including a blind tasting kit. Visit: https://www.duttongoldfield.com/

Nowadays, wine lovers recite by heart the sites of the world's greatest terroir: France's Puligny-Montrachet "Les Perrieres," Germany's Urziger Wurzgarten, Spain's Pago di Otazu and others.

In not too long, I won't be surprised when we'll be learning Rued, Walker, Emerald Ridge and other vineyards reflected in the wines of Dutton-Goldfield Winery. I'm happy to get started right away!

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