An easy way to appreciate the nuances, flavors and structure of a well-crafted wine is to open a second bottle. Side-by-side comparison of wines created from identical varietals but sourced from dissimilar locations often reveals more than tasting them individually. Even wines from the same vineyard might vary widely each year depending upon the weather or the techniques used during a particular season.
Truly great wines maintain an underlying consistency that speaks to the specific site where the grapes are grown. The French term “terroir” embodies this concept of location as a determinant of a wine’s essence. Grapes grown in the verdant California climate are, and should be, different from those grown in less hospitable climes and those differences ideally are reflected in the wines they produce.
The Chardonnay and Pinot Noir for Champagne are grown at the very limits of the vines’ survivability and the resulting stress is what creates the flavors that are so prized in the wine. On the opposite side of the world and growing spectrum is Australian Shiraz whose flavors mirror the rich agricultural conditions. In some Burgundy vineyards, the difference in soils between one row of vines and the next is sufficient to change the characteristics, quality and ultimately the price of the wine.