Alsace vineyards are complex in subsoil type. The author proposes that the characteristics of the subsoil are the most indelible aspect of terroir. Many Alsace wine producers use sustainable, biologic, and biodynamic farming practices in order to best transfer flavors that could be attributed to subsoil type. Both the traditional and modern vinification and maturation methods of Alsace producers interfere minimally with the transfer of subsoil flavor to wine flavor. Hence, Alsace wine is the ideal locus to sense and understand ““terroir”” in wine. The author examines whether and how subsoil flavor can be sensed in wine flavor. In particular, he assesses what could account for ““mineral”” smells and tastes in wine. Most Alsace wines are composed of one grape variety. Until recently all Grand Cru wines had to be composed of only one of the four varietals: Riesling, Gewurztraminer, Pinot Gris, and Muscat d'Alsace. Recent changes in wine legislation allow other vine varieties or blends of varieties in Grand Cru wines. The author examines the relationship of these legal changes to the terroir issue and to the marketability of Alsace wine. The author substantiates his theses by comparing and contrasting the opinions of various Alsace winemakers whom he interviewed in November of 2007.
Discovering Terroir in the Wines of Alsace
bill nesto has been a Master of Wine since 1993. He is a senior lecturer at Boston University, where he teaches in the Masters in Gastronomy program and offers wine appreciation classes for the beverage trades and public. He is a contributing editor to Sante Magazine and a regular contributor to Beverage Business. Nesto lectures widely and judges wine competitions. He also lectures and writes about chocolate.
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bill nesto; Discovering Terroir in the Wines of Alsace. Gastronomica 1 November 2008; 8 (4): 87–90. doi: https://doi.org/10.1525/gfc.2008.8.4.87
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