Terroir; Between Medoc & A Hard Place.

Chapter Eleven. Part Four.
Midwestern QuarryMineral is one of the terms often used when describing old-world wines. Whether it is perceived as graphite or clay in young red wines from the Medoc or as chalky limestone in Loire Valley whites, minerality often finds its way into wine. I’d like to tell you the romantic tale of how I discovered this important facet of terroir when I was travelling through the vineyards of France, but then I’d be lying.

I learned about minerality as a trespassing juvenile delinquent in the cornfields west of Chicago. These cornfields were littered with abandoned stone quarries that – once the water table had been breached – filled with crystalline spring water. The resulting oasis was a welcome relief from the oppressive Illinois heat, providing you were willing to ignore the threatening signs and climb a chain link fence.

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Terroir; From Great Vines Come Great Wines.

Chapter Eleven. Part Three.

“An important part of the pleasure of wine is its reflection of the total environment that produced it. If I find in a wine no hint of where it was grown, no mark of the summer when the fruit ripened, and no indication of the usages common among those who made it, I am frustrated and disappointed. Because that is what good, honest wine should offer. It is not just a commodity subjected to techniques to boost this or that element to meet the current concept of a marketable product.”¹

Gerald Asher, A Vineyard in My Glass

Terroir Puzzle 2 copyThere’s an expression among winemakers that says, “95% of every wine is made in the vineyard.” This simply means that despite the best efforts of man to manipulate wine, its quality ultimately depends on the grapes they start with. Unless of course man takes his 5% and really screws things up, in which case he’ll remind us that 95% of the wine is made in the vineyard. And in case you’re wondering, that’s the vineyard where sour grapes come from.

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It Was The Best Of Wines. It Was The Worst Of Wines.

Chapter Eleven. Parts One & Two.
The November 1997 issue of the Wine Spectator rated the Louis Latour 1990 Corton-Charlemagne 98 points … and 88 points.

98 LOUIS LATOUR Corton-Charlemagne 1990
Exotic, wild and savage. A deep, “gonzo-crazy” terroir wine, full-bodied and packed with dried herbs, honey and spicy oak. Almost tannic in structure, it explodes like a small volcano on the palate for an unbelievable experience. Not for the faint of heart though.

88 LOUIS LATOUR Corton-Charlemagne 1990
Mature, with an herbal, slightly leathery accent to the pear and oak flavors. Shows its age via dryness and coarseness on the finish.

In the same issue the 1995 Arrowood Réserve Spéciale received 95 points … and 82 points, and the Rochioli 1995 Allen Vineyard Reserve was awarded 96 points … and 85 points. These dyslexic point spreads were not the result of ADD (Alcohol Drinking Disorder); these Dickensian observations were simply a tale of two critics.

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