Louis Latour on Terroir and Global Warming
This show was published 17 August 2007
There are many definitions of terroir. Some say it is simply the effect of the soil on the vine and grapes. Others say it is the unique combination of climate, soil and even winemaking philosophy. The latter view is hard to defend in the face of changing climate as a result of global warming. This week we talk with Louis about the concept of terroir in relation to global warming. Listening to Louis, his view is quite similar to many new world growers - sure good soils are important especially in marginal climates, but Louis does believe that good terrior does not necessarily mean good wine. A good bottle of wine needs a lot of hard work and critical decisions along the way.
Louis believes terroir is important but should not be the paragon of everything. You also need to look at weather, sun exposure, the grapes and the work of the grape grower and winemaker behind the terroir.
In Burgundy they are fortunate to have great soil but today's challenge is the yield rather than the 'minerality' of the terroir. In many other countries where the people in charge of the vineyard work well and have good grapes they can do an excellent job. Terroir is not the main driver.
In France the industry is now more obsessed with global warming than with terroir. In Beaujolais the region is suffering so the debate is whether they should be producing different grapes such as Syrah or Pinot, instead of Gamay. Terroir is becoming less important than the weather and grapes.
To combat climate change Maison Louis Latour are going further north, even experimenting with reds in Chablis. Unknown vineyards are doing very well now, in the vineyard they are trying to keep balance, harvest earlier, keep more leaves on the vine and control the yield to keep the acidity. They do not 'green harvest'.
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