Australia’s French Wine Distributor talks about Terroir

Terroir is the basis of the French wine appellation d’origine controlee (AOC) system.

This system presumes that the land from which the grapes are grown gives a unique quality that is specific to that vineyard site.

The components of terroir are climate (macro/meso/micro), soil type (composition & intrinsic nature – fertility/drainage/retention of heat), geomorphology (the natural landscape – mountain, valleys, bodies of water which in themselves influence climate – along with the elements of aspect & elevation of the vineyard).

The French word for winemaker is “vigneron” but translated more aptly as “wine grower”.

In France it is the belief that terroir is the dominant influence in wine and is therefore the basis of French wine labels which emphasise region, vineyard or AOC rather than variety of grape.

In Australia, the human controlled (or influenced) elements are seen to be, at least to a degree, part of the definition of terroir. For example, wine making decisions about yeast to be used for fermentation, the use of oak and vineyard management. However, it is suggested that these decisions are about bringing out the best that the terroir can produce, rather than being a substitute &
Australia does now increasingly recognise a “sense of place”. At the same time, we at Hausler Family Wines have noticed an increasing recognition in France of the importance of these are elements as the new generation of French winemakers travel the world.