The term ‘terroir’ encompasses the many geographical, climatic and ecological qualities of a vineyard, all of which shape the character of a wine.
What does terroir mean?
Why does Pinot Noir from Burgundy taste so great? Or Cabernet Sauvignon from Napa Valley? It’s not only down to the talented local winemakers. These regions have ideal ‘terroir’ for growing those grape varieties.
The French word ‘terroir’ doesn’t have an exact English translation. But the best way to think of it is as a ‘sense of place’. It refers to the vineyard situation in which wine grapes grow – the soil type, climate, terrain, elevation and even the local flora and fauna.
All these factors influence how grapes develop flavour. And, in turn, that shapes the character of the finished wine. That’s why a Sauvignon Blanc grown in New Zealand, for example, will never taste exactly like one made in Sancerre, even if the winemaking style is the same. Every single vineyard in the world has its own unique terroir.