Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Reading Asher, and appreciating terroir

I prefer these posts be interviews, but once in awhile I like to stray off the beaten path. My daughter gave me a book by Gerald Asher, the wine editor for Gourmet magazine for more than 30 years. Called The Pleasures of Wine, it's a collection of essays by a writer whose command of the language is as rich as many of the wines he savors. Definitely worth having in your wine library, and one that might you send you back to the bookstore or to amazon.com for the two other books he has written.

I thought the quotes he gathered on terroir in the first essay in the book were worth sharing. Painting a picture of the landscape that provides the soil and climate for Corton, located in the heart of Burgandy, he rolls out these thoughts on the influence of terroir.

From Jacques Lardiere, the technical wine director at Louis Jadot:
"To some extent we can impose style on a wine in the cellar, but we can't impose character, and we can't impose quality either. They come with the vine and the terroir. When we try to bring out the expression of a particular climat we must take into account the circumstances of the year and, if necessary, modify accordingly both our expectations and the tecnhiques we apply."

And from Nadine de Nicolay, the manager of the Chandon de Briailles estate:
"A wine's terroir just is. We do nothing to dramatize it, but we do make an effort to protect it. We avoid the use of fertilizers, which encourages the vine to root deeply and draw on all that is there in the soil. The power and length of a wine comes only from the vine. The kind of power that comes from working the skins and the juice in the course of making wine is superficial; it does not give the wine finesse. On the contrary, it usually destroys any it might have had."