Terroir, a complex concept

Many people talk about terroir. It is nothing new. The difficulty arises when categorizing it. Renowned winemakers share their opinion and experiences. To them, the work done in Argentina on Malbec is hugely important.

The French imposed this name on the wine world, getting a worldwide recognition that managed to identify wines with unique characteristics. This concept quickly spread out to other European regions, but it took time to reach New World countries basing their modern expansion on varietal wines. Nowadays, while traditional countries are approaching this concept aiming at capturing consumers, New World countries are working to identify regions boasting extraordinary and differential features.

Some years ago, the Terroir term was not linked to the elements part of it, but related to a piece of land, place or climate as isolated components, in the same way as today, for example, many people associate the concept of sustainability with environment or the image of “green”.

The components of Terroir are the climate, soil and the influence of human being, all of which combined in a certain space or place. The aim is to verify the existence of objective differences, beyond human interventions, and adding the natural potential of each place to human factor to get the maximum expression.

In Argentina, there is a market and a recent interest in learning the differences and characterizing a terroir associated to a certain variety. Around 20 years ago, people started to think more in quality and Malbec. Some time ago, it was believed that Malbec grapes from Uco Valley granted a lot of color to their wines but, at that time, there were no data supporting this hypothesis. This interest is beyond the technical curiosity.

There are many Argentine wineries working on this concept, from diverse approaches. Some of them from empirical way, backing up their conclusions by repeated experiences; and others, by researching, following up, compiling data and analyzing constantly the relation with resulting wines.

Many winemakers have found differences among terroirs and are looking for the reasons. These professionals among others are Fernando Buscema – Caro winery-, Pedro Parra -Alto Las Hormigas-, Alejandro Vigil -Aleanna-, Edgardo Del Popolo -Doña Paula- and José Galante -Salentein.

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