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The war on terroir 01/09/2004 (TNB)

A while ago, I read some debate on a discussion forum that had emerged from some comment in the Guardian newspaper that suggested that terroir is not so important in wine. I don't at all agree: two wines drunk recently illustrate its importance rather well. Jadot's Chevalier Montrachet 1994 could never have come from an unclassified vineyard - certainly not in an average vintage like this one. The fruit is just too finely delineated. Of course, one gets Grand Cru wines that through sloppy winemaking are confusible with Bourgogne blanc, but that is not really the point: with good winemaking terroir gives something to a wine that no amount of scientific winemaking can duplicate.

Colin-Deleger's Chassagne Montrachet La Romanee 1996 was alltogether less fine, a bit more in-your-face but pretty good for what it claims to be and certainly proper wine. I thought this was just the nature of Chassagne, with it tending to lack the definition of Puligny and Meursault, but J.M. (who served these wines) floated the idea that this sort of "tending to New World" Chassagne tends to come from the bottom of the village around Morgeot (where traditionally quite a lot of red wine was produced) and that wines from the vineyards round the top end abutting Puligny are a bit tighter and more elegant. This certainly chimes with a number of wines I can remember, and is worth thinking more about.

Bin end added to Fine Wine Diary 01/09/2004   Return to top