Friday, June 11, 2010

An Education in Altitude and Terroir

American wine drinkers are not much into terroir; in fact, some boast about being anti-terroirists. As far as I'm concerned, those folks are missing one of the most intriguing aspects of wine.

Even though it's only a cooperative, Vignerons du Mont Ventoux takes a special interest in soil, micro-climate and placement of vineyards. The Altitude 500 Ventoux reported on below is produced from vineyards 500 meters above sea level. The winery also bottles an Altitude 450 and an Altitude 400 and, on its web site, gives geological and geographical details about each. This is "educational because a range was created to enable you to reappropriate the notion of TERROIR. That terroir, or soil, that gives our wines all their authenticity and personality." All three Altitude wines are produced using the same blend (75% Grenache, 25% Syrah) and the same winemaking techniques. Yet each presumably has its own distinct personality. (Unfortunately, only the Altitude 500 was imported into Michigan so I can't tell you any more about these differences.) Even by European standards, these Ventoux wines are inexpensive, selling for 4.30 to 5.00 Euros ($5 to $7) at the cooperative. Yet they are not to be dismissed as simple. When the French drink wine, even every day wine, they are looking not only for pleasure but also some appreciation for the land and how it affects aromas, flavors and personality.

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