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Forum - 1Terroir and wine style

Hervé Birnie-Scott - Terrazas de los Andes

Terroir and wine style

Discover how terroir – the combination of geography, climate and soil –
shapes the wine style in Mendoza.

Hervé Birnie-Scott

1. What distinguishes your terroir in Mendoza ?

The terroir in Mendoza is very singular. It’s a unique combination of high-altitude desert climate with diverse sedimentary soils produced by the erosion of the Andes Mountains. The terroir is entirely continental with no oceanic influence. The days are warm and dry, the nights are cold and the fruit ripens slowly. As the vineyards lie in the Andean foothills, the higher you move up the slope, the colder the weather becomes, allowing you to grow each grape type at the right altitude for maximum varietal expression.

2. How does your terroir impact on the wine style?

Most of the Terrazas vineyards are in the highest part of Mendoza province, all above 1,000 meters (3,300 feet) with cooler days and cold nights. This means the wine style majors on fruit character, natural freshness and elegance coming to the fore within a sound structure. The terroir particularly suits the Malbec grape, which was brought from Bordeaux 160 years ago and found a new home here in Mendoza. As for the Terrazas white wines, in addition to the fresh, fruity style of our Mendoza Chardonnay, there is also the unique Torrontes grape, only found in Argentina. We cultivate it in its ideal terroir, the Cafayate Valley, 1,800 meters up in the northern province of Salta. There is a huge variation in annual temperatures here, leading to intense, elegant fruit flavours.

3. With Cabernet Sauvignon, are you seeking to make wines that will match the best in Bordeaux?

We are different from Bordeaux, and from all the other well-known Cabernet Sauvignon regions. Indeed, Mendoza is probably one of the very few significant areas for Cabernet with a continental climate. Here, the cooling oceanic influence found in other renowned regions like Bordeaux, Napa, Margaret River, Chile and so on is replaced by the effect of altitude. This enables us to produce Cabernet Sauvignon wines of great potential displaying more ripe, dark lively fruits, rather than the classic, green-pepper style of Bordeaux.

Forum - 2Varietals versus blends

Manuel Louzada - Bodega Numanthia

Varietals versus blends

Blends or single varietal wines? Learn how both can excel.

Manuel Louzada - Bodega Numanthia

1. Single variety versus blend: a question of taste or style?

Before answering the question, I think a little history might help. Although the marketing strategies of several New World wine countries, especially the US, lead many to think single variety wines are a recent development, blends have existed alongside varietals for centuries in the Old World. For instance, some of the most renowned regions have long been making wines with at least 85% coming from a single grape variety (the minimum proportion to be considered a single varietal wine). Examples in France include Pinot Noir and Chardonnay in Burgundy, Gamay for Beaujolais, Syrah in the Côte Rôtie, Sauvignon in Sancerre and Grenache for Banyuls. Similarly in Spain you’ll find Tinta de Toro in Toro, Verdejo from Rueda, Garnacha in Priorat and Carinena from the region of the same name, while Sangiovese is indispensable to Italian Chianti. These instances demonstrate that there are still unique places where terroir and a single, specific grape can combine to create some of the world’s best wines, such as Termanthia. Blends are often compared to an orchestral score whose overall harmony is greater than the sum of the parts played by individual instruments. I couldn’t agree more. Nonetheless, in regions as magnificent as those just named all the characteristics of a great wine – intensity, concentration, complexity, balance and length – can be achieved with a single grape variety. I would go so far as to compare wine with sculpture, where a single material can yield the most beautiful works of art, as with Michelangelo’s Pietà.

Forum - 3Coming soon

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