Doing my early morning news scan, I saw this article on how the trend towards terroir-driven wines is growing in California. It was my exact same experience when travelling Australia last year.
With the diversity of the Cape Winelands, origin has been an increased focus in the industry. Just yesterday, we invited some guests to join us for a tasting of the blending components of our 2015 La Motte Sauvignon Blanc.
Other than our Pierneef Sauvignon Blanc, made from grapes grown exclusively in the newly demarcated Cape South Coast origin area, this wine is made in a more popular, aperitif-style and from grapes out of most of South Africa’s main Sauvignon Blanc growing areas. This year the blend will consist of grapes from Durbanville, Stellenbosch, Franschhoek, Elgin, Napier, Bot River and Elim. Tasting the wines from the tanks next to each other is a wonderful way to experience terroir. The same vintage, the same variety, but totally different aromas.
But blending is exactly what the trend is not about. The terroir-trend as described in the article is definitely about keeping grapes from a specific area separate. The result is smaller quantities of very unique wines. Wines that speak about their specific terroir.
Inspired by our Australian trip, La Motte Cellarmaster, Edmund Terblanche and I are also considering some terroir-specific Shiraz wines from this vintage. Although we are just playing with the idea and the wines are far from finished, it will be interesting to compare the elegant red fruit of Franschhoek Shiraz with the more austere versions from Bot River (tannin) and Elim (spice).
While having terroir as a consumer-trend is very exciting, I think the almost cult-like Californian interest that might work well in a wine auction context, might struggle commercially. Without having to be a big production corporate enterprise, it will always be important to have some volume available in a consumer-friendly style. And in my opinion, the beauty of blending and bringing together the attributes of various areas will never go out of fashion.
Is this not exactly what makes the business and lifestyle of wine so exciting?!
Image caption: Tank-tasting of 2015 Sauvignon Blanc from various terroir.