"If You Irrigate, It's Not Terroir..."

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Alan Rath
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Re: "If You Irrigate, It's Not Terroir..."

#201 Post by Alan Rath »

Otto Forsberg wrote: April 6th, 2021, 11:13 pm
Alan Rath wrote: April 6th, 2021, 8:24 pm Well, I absolutely believe in the significance of terroir. But I don’t think the distinction between rain and irrigation is nearly as big a factor as soil, temperature, and sunlight. A grower can mimic rain, but none of those other factors.
Another logical fallacy, this time it's whataboutism! [tease.gif]
Well, it’s not a “whataboutism” argument, and I’ve made whatever points I have to make.

Last one: growers in California of fine wines aren’t flooding their fields with water. They’re using it sparingly, in situations where needed. Much like the French grower who reports on the vintage “we got a little rain, just at the perfect time to refresh the vines ahead of harvest”.

Arguing that irrigation masks terroir, when the French have so many ridiculous rules and regs about what they can and cannot do, is kind of silly. If allowed, they would use irrigation in a heartbeat, and think nothing of it. Maybe we should start a discussion based on the statement “if you spray biodynamic preparations, it’s not terroir, it’s just a piece of land where you spread mystical bullshit” [wow.gif]
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Re: "If You Irrigate, It's Not Terroir..."

#202 Post by Taylor Broussard »

Alan Rath wrote: April 6th, 2021, 8:24 pm
Jonathan Loesberg wrote: April 6th, 2021, 1:47 pm Look, if as is the case with many of you commenting here, you really don't believe either a)in the significance of terroir or. b)in the reality of it as a definable category, than it is pretty meaningless to comment on what Brunier says. If terroir either doesn't matter or doesn't exist, it hardly matters to it whether one irrigates or not.
Well, I absolutely believe in the significance of terroir. But I don’t think the distinction between rain and irrigation is nearly as big a factor as soil, temperature, and sunlight. A grower can mimic rain, but none of those other factors.

But really, I just find Brunier’s comment self serving and a put down of anyone who doesn’t do things exactly like him. Totally unnecessary. Quite frankly, I’ve found his wines to be overly ripe in most recent vintages, and haven’t bought one in years.
But what if they could? Irrigating in many places was impossible until technology advanced to the point where it was possible and deployable at scale. Before modern irrigation would anyone say rain and hydrology doesn't matter as much as soil? (and I saw hydrology since purely thinking about rain is too simple - water tables, underground creeks and other factors are all part of the equation).

Terroir is mostly about distilling these concepts into their most basic essence. Of course the idea of "nothing added, nothing taken away" is fanciful and impossible as human intervention is necessary to make the wine and put in the bottle. But is part of an effort to see things as they really are or could be in their most natural state.

Similar discussions happen in other fields, look no further than athletics and Olympic sports. Use of PEDs, technology in fabrics, shoes and everything in between are factors. But at the end of the day our fascination with the Olympics and other sports are about human capability and endeavors. Which is why Lance Armstrong was a triumph in the past, and a tragedy now that we understand the extent of his blood doping. Some could argue why that's the case - after all his effort and athleticism was still unique and extraordinary. That's true - but he was tainted by the fact that we could no longer look at his performance separate from the blood doping which undoubtedly improved or changed his performance - and the mythology is shattered.

Others will certainly disagree, but this is true in many of the same ways for wine. Many of us, and certainly the culture of wine is seeking vintages and places where these exceptional wines come into being. I personally don't believe that the best Bordeaux come from Haut Brion, Margaux or a First Growth every year, it very well could be that in time we discover that Leoville Barton made the wine of the vintage due to the unique circumstances of the vintage in conjunction with their unique vineyard. Minimizing human intervention allows us to keep the mystery and mythology intact. An exceptional year, an exceptional vineyard, where everything could come into place...that's what so many are seeking. And also, something yet beautiful from a great struggle of a vintage equally the same.

And some may want to be less romantic or more practical in the way they look at or participate in wine. But for some of us, we know that the mythology can be true, and these moments of place and time do come together are possible. And all of that elevates how we relate to wine, and how inconceivable on its face that mere grapes grown on a vine could last for decades in a bottle and become so transcendent. For me, I know it's all possible, I know it's true, and so it seems that all of these decisions, or interventions, or however we choose to look at them can be meaningful in how we relate to this tradition and experience of wine.

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Re: "If You Irrigate, It's Not Terroir..."

#203 Post by Alan Rath »

Taylor Broussard wrote: April 7th, 2021, 10:18 am
Alan Rath wrote: April 6th, 2021, 8:24 pm
Jonathan Loesberg wrote: April 6th, 2021, 1:47 pm Look, if as is the case with many of you commenting here, you really don't believe either a)in the significance of terroir or. b)in the reality of it as a definable category, than it is pretty meaningless to comment on what Brunier says. If terroir either doesn't matter or doesn't exist, it hardly matters to it whether one irrigates or not.
Well, I absolutely believe in the significance of terroir. But I don’t think the distinction between rain and irrigation is nearly as big a factor as soil, temperature, and sunlight. A grower can mimic rain, but none of those other factors.

But really, I just find Brunier’s comment self serving and a put down of anyone who doesn’t do things exactly like him. Totally unnecessary. Quite frankly, I’ve found his wines to be overly ripe in most recent vintages, and haven’t bought one in years.
But what if they could? Irrigating in many places was impossible until technology advanced to the point where it was possible and deployable at scale. Before modern irrigation would anyone say rain and hydrology doesn't matter as much as soil? (and I saw hydrology since purely thinking about rain is too simple - water tables, underground creeks and other factors are all part of the equation).

Terroir is mostly about distilling these concepts into their most basic essence. Of course the idea of "nothing added, nothing taken away" is fanciful and impossible as human intervention is necessary to make the wine and put in the bottle. But is part of an effort to see things as they really are or could be in their most natural state.

Similar discussions happen in other fields, look no further than athletics and Olympic sports. Use of PEDs, technology in fabrics, shoes and everything in between are factors. But at the end of the day our fascination with the Olympics and other sports are about human capability and endeavors. Which is why Lance Armstrong was a triumph in the past, and a tragedy now that we understand the extent of his blood doping. Some could argue why that's the case - after all his effort and athleticism was still unique and extraordinary. That's true - but he was tainted by the fact that we could no longer look at his performance separate from the blood doping which undoubtedly improved or changed his performance - and the mythology is shattered.
To your first point about hydrology: maybe a location that doesn’t need rain, because of its hydrology, and the way rain falls annually to replenish underground water is best? So places that require rain during the year are actually “inferior” (this is what Marcus is saying). My response is that I don’t believe any of them are “best”, I think they’re all equally good - if the resulting wine is good. Rain or no rain, irrigation or no irrigation, I don’t care, I don’t feel that’s the heart of what we think of as terroir.

But I do think you may have given Brunier another quote to use: irrigation is the “blood doping” of wine growing ;)
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Re: "If You Irrigate, It's Not Terroir..."

#204 Post by Marcus Goodfellow »

Alan Rath wrote: April 7th, 2021, 10:40 am
Taylor Broussard wrote: April 7th, 2021, 10:18 am
Alan Rath wrote: April 6th, 2021, 8:24 pm
Well, I absolutely believe in the significance of terroir. But I don’t think the distinction between rain and irrigation is nearly as big a factor as soil, temperature, and sunlight. A grower can mimic rain, but none of those other factors.

But really, I just find Brunier’s comment self serving and a put down of anyone who doesn’t do things exactly like him. Totally unnecessary. Quite frankly, I’ve found his wines to be overly ripe in most recent vintages, and haven’t bought one in years.
But what if they could? Irrigating in many places was impossible until technology advanced to the point where it was possible and deployable at scale. Before modern irrigation would anyone say rain and hydrology doesn't matter as much as soil? (and I saw hydrology since purely thinking about rain is too simple - water tables, underground creeks and other factors are all part of the equation).

Terroir is mostly about distilling these concepts into their most basic essence. Of course the idea of "nothing added, nothing taken away" is fanciful and impossible as human intervention is necessary to make the wine and put in the bottle. But is part of an effort to see things as they really are or could be in their most natural state.

Similar discussions happen in other fields, look no further than athletics and Olympic sports. Use of PEDs, technology in fabrics, shoes and everything in between are factors. But at the end of the day our fascination with the Olympics and other sports are about human capability and endeavors. Which is why Lance Armstrong was a triumph in the past, and a tragedy now that we understand the extent of his blood doping. Some could argue why that's the case - after all his effort and athleticism was still unique and extraordinary. That's true - but he was tainted by the fact that we could no longer look at his performance separate from the blood doping which undoubtedly improved or changed his performance - and the mythology is shattered.
To your first point about hydrology: maybe a location that doesn’t need rain, because of its hydrology, and the way rain falls annually to replenish underground water is best? So places that require rain during the year are actually “inferior” (this is what Marcus is saying). My response is that I don’t believe any of them are “best”, I think they’re all equally good - if the resulting wine is good. Rain or no rain, irrigation or no irrigation, I don’t care, I don’t feel that’s the heart of what we think of as terroir.

But I do think you may have given Brunier another quote to use: irrigation is the “blood doping” of wine growing ;)
Alan,

You need to quit stating what I am “saying” as you are consistently wrong.

Completely wrong. Just off the rails wrong.

Show me where I said that a place that requires rain during the growing season is “inferior”? I haven’t stated anything about inferior other than to say where my favorite wines come from. And wine preference is completely subjective, so how on earth would my preference for Burgundy make the the Willamette Valley or Sonoma Coast inferior?

You said you were a “Europhile”, and at no point did I assume that meant you felt American wines were inferior.

It rains in the Wilamette Valley during the growing season all the time...

My only point was that vines in the Willamette Valley can go the whole growing season without it raining and survive. There’s no implication of superiority or inferiority-just that they can survive. Nothing beyond being able to grow and survive.

It has no bearing on any other growing region in the world. Nor is there any statement of quality....did I say that clearly enough?

I’m off this thread at this point, but please don’t speak for me any more because you have repeatedly made it clear that you don’t have an effing clue what I am actually saying.

I rescind anything and everything I have said on this thread, so that you can stick to making your own statements from here on out.
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Re: "If You Irrigate, It's Not Terroir..."

#205 Post by Alan Rath »

Marcus Goodfellow wrote: April 7th, 2021, 1:55 pm
Alan Rath wrote: April 7th, 2021, 10:40 am
Taylor Broussard wrote: April 7th, 2021, 10:18 am

But what if they could? Irrigating in many places was impossible until technology advanced to the point where it was possible and deployable at scale. Before modern irrigation would anyone say rain and hydrology doesn't matter as much as soil? (and I saw hydrology since purely thinking about rain is too simple - water tables, underground creeks and other factors are all part of the equation).

Terroir is mostly about distilling these concepts into their most basic essence. Of course the idea of "nothing added, nothing taken away" is fanciful and impossible as human intervention is necessary to make the wine and put in the bottle. But is part of an effort to see things as they really are or could be in their most natural state.

Similar discussions happen in other fields, look no further than athletics and Olympic sports. Use of PEDs, technology in fabrics, shoes and everything in between are factors. But at the end of the day our fascination with the Olympics and other sports are about human capability and endeavors. Which is why Lance Armstrong was a triumph in the past, and a tragedy now that we understand the extent of his blood doping. Some could argue why that's the case - after all his effort and athleticism was still unique and extraordinary. That's true - but he was tainted by the fact that we could no longer look at his performance separate from the blood doping which undoubtedly improved or changed his performance - and the mythology is shattered.
To your first point about hydrology: maybe a location that doesn’t need rain, because of its hydrology, and the way rain falls annually to replenish underground water is best? So places that require rain during the year are actually “inferior” (this is what Marcus is saying). My response is that I don’t believe any of them are “best”, I think they’re all equally good - if the resulting wine is good. Rain or no rain, irrigation or no irrigation, I don’t care, I don’t feel that’s the heart of what we think of as terroir.

But I do think you may have given Brunier another quote to use: irrigation is the “blood doping” of wine growing ;)
Alan,

You need to quit stating what I am “saying” as you are consistently wrong.

Completely wrong. Just off the rails wrong.

Show me where I said that a place that requires rain during the growing season is “inferior”? I haven’t stated anything about inferior other than to say where my favorite wines come from. And wine preference is completely subjective, so how on earth would my preference for Burgundy make the the Willamette Valley or Sonoma Coast inferior?

You said you were a “Europhile”, and at no point did I assume that meant you felt American wines were inferior.

It rains in the Wilamette Valley during the growing season all the time...

My only point was that vines in the Willamette Valley can go the whole growing season without it raining and survive. There’s no implication of superiority or inferiority-just that they can survive. Nothing beyond being able to grow and survive.

It has no bearing on any other growing region in the world. Nor is there any statement of quality....did I say that clearly enough?

I’m off this thread at this point, but please don’t speak for me any more because you have repeatedly made it clear that you don’t have an effing clue what I am actually saying.

I rescind anything and everything I have said on this thread, so that you can stick to making your own statements from here on out.
You literally said exactly that, and when I asked if I had interpreted your phrasing correctly you said yes. But whatever, it’s just some inane wine discussion, I’ve suggested you stop taking it so seriously.
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Re: "If You Irrigate, It's Not Terroir..."

#206 Post by D@vid Bu3ker »

Maybe Alan, you should take your own advice.
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Re: "If You Irrigate, It's Not Terroir..."

#207 Post by Alan Rath »

Marcus Goodfellow wrote: April 4th, 2021, 9:01 pm
Alan Rath wrote: April 4th, 2021, 8:46 pm
Marcus Goodfellow wrote: April 4th, 2021, 7:33 pm So, without criticizing growers, I don’t think there’s a need to mimic a rainfall. That’s only my opinion, and I utilize my wines and other Deep Roots members wines to show it’s possible.
Aside from me pulling your chain a bit, there’s an interesting discussion to be had here: you have a French grower saying that irrigation is bad, and the resulting wine is inferior to non-irrigated. I initially interpreted that to mean vineyards which get natural irrigation (random rain) are superior. But your argument seems to be (if I’m interpreting correctly) that dry farming may be the best of all, although a little rain here and there won’t hurt anything.

One thing I’m curious about: if deep roots are good, but irrigation causes vines to be “lazy” and feed from more shallow roots, how does rain promote deep roots?

Frankly, I’m not entirely convinced that deep roots are all that important; and I’m not sure how you prove something like that. But now we’re into the “conventional wisdom” part of our program...
So your first paragraph interpets my opinion correctly.

But the follow up is that rain does not promote deep roots, drought does. The vintages without rain that sends plants into water deficit will help force the plant to seek the water table down below topsoil. Which is why the person preferring deep roots will wade through the dry vintages and rhe vines suffering a bit. (My comments are not applicable to areas as arid as say Red Mountain).
Just to wrap this up, here is what I wrote, and your response. Essentially, me: I interpret your position to be dry farming is best, you: yes.

So I haven’t put words in your mouth.

And I’m tired of this discussion, which, as I expressed earlier, is just all more bullshit that is wine people of all kinds saying what they think is good or bad, without really knowing for sure.
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Re: "If You Irrigate, It's Not Terroir..."

#208 Post by Marcus Goodfellow »

I said that I believe dry farming is best-in a context of expressing terroir. That’s what the thread was about. And dry farming, in my opinion, does show a wider range of nuance. Which is not the same as the very, very, very subjective statement of inferior or superior.

If that wasn’t clear-my bad.

However-you can also PLAINLY see that I excluded arid(in need of irrigation) regions, even going so far as to give an example...and said my comments do not apply.


Different from inferior or superior. You might also consider that the difference between best and next best, or even other than best is not always a large margin.

...wine people...the full of shit ones...right, I shouldn’t take that seriously at all.
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Re: "If You Irrigate, It's Not Terroir..."

#209 Post by Mel Knox »

I've been thinking about my Wm F Buckley Jr take on Junipero Serra. There is one big difference between the Roman Catholic church and the notion of terroir. The Popes and cardinals through the ages have figured out what the church believes, and if you don't agree, maybe you should think about becoming a Lutheran.

But we have many different notions of what terroir is. A country where the notion of a quality vineyard includes the word drainage and needs to add sugar to fermentors just might have a different notion than one where it rains three times a year and the water retaining qualities of clay soil are prized.
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Re: "If You Irrigate, It's Not Terroir..."

#210 Post by Wes Barton »

The quote is so weirdly worded, I think people are reading it differently.

"Irrigating at all negates the possibility of terroir expression."

"Irrigation has a non-positive effect on the expression of terroir."

I think we can all agree on the 2nd, unless you somehow don't believe exists.

From there, any category of practice that can lessen, dilute, mask the expression of terroir is non-binary.

I think if you see someone seemingly over-irrigating or unnecessarily irrigating for their region, you're noticing a sort of canary in the coal mine. That's probably not the only problem, and likely a fumbling attempt to address poor soil health.
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Re: "If You Irrigate, It's Not Terroir..."

#211 Post by Eric Texier »

Another way to understand terroir is to see it as everything you cannot bring with you when you move to another place, whatever the money you can afford to spend.
This is a concept that was develloped by Larchiver in "Histoire du vignoble français", and that I find quite resilient to exposure to present and past facts.
Terroir defies billionaires : You can spend billions, you will never get what a simple peasant grower has under his/her feet on a great terroir. Period.
Marius Gentaz Dervieux was a simple (but happy) man all his life. He worked a great terroir. He made unique wines that people from the whole world admire.
Unless any billionaire, movie star or high tech tycoon, works the same terroir with respect, spending billions of bitcoins will not bring the result even close to what one can get from syrah there.
Including irrigation, obviously. Like any agro-technical or enological tool, imo.
Terroir, in its french popular meaning, goes way beyond simple and trivial geological and meteorogical considerations : and its social, cultural and historical content lead to reject irrigation, which AOCs rules reflect.
You might see this as arrogant or stupidly conservative. It is more likely the expression of a very different way to apprehend history of agricultural culture, deeply inscribed in mediteranean cultures.

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Re: "If You Irrigate, It's Not Terroir..."

#212 Post by Mel Knox »

Can't the billionaire give the happy peasant some money and take over his simple happy plot of land?
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Re: "If You Irrigate, It's Not Terroir..."

#213 Post by Alan Rath »

Eric Texier wrote: April 7th, 2021, 11:08 pm Another way to understand terroir is to see it as everything you cannot bring with you when you move to another place, whatever the money you can afford to spend.
This is a concept that was develloped by Larchiver in "Histoire du vignoble français", and that I find quite resilient to exposure to present and past facts.
Terroir defies billionaires : You can spend billions, you will never get what a simple peasant grower has under his/her feet on a great terroir. Period.
Marius Gentaz Dervieux was a simple (but happy) man all his life. He worked a great terroir. He made unique wines that people from the whole world admire.
Unless any billionaire, movie star or high tech tycoon, works the same terroir with respect, spending billions of bitcoins will not bring the result even close to what one can get from syrah there.
Including irrigation, obviously. Like any agro-technical or enological tool, imo.
Terroir, in its french popular meaning, goes way beyond simple and trivial geological and meteorogical considerations : and its social, cultural and historical content lead to reject irrigation, which AOCs rules reflect.
You might see this as arrogant or stupidly conservative. It is more likely the expression of a very different way to apprehend history of agricultural culture, deeply inscribed in mediteranean cultures.
Eric, thanks for chiming in, I quite like the definition. And yet, it is somewhat unsatisfying. The notion that water can’t be added (in the form of irrigation), but sugar can be during fermentation, seems to carve out a critical piece. The very heart of winegrowing, literally the most important aspect, is the ability for a site to produce optimally ripe fruit. It seems disingenuous to create a list of do’s and dont’s, which nicely distinguish French vineyards from those in other parts of the world, while allowing the one thing that adulterates the final wine more than almost any other factor.

Given that many of us already believe that the finest wines of many types come from French soils, it’s a little sad that vignerons find it necessary to denigrate other regions by saying “you can never be as good as us, no matter how hard you try”.
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Re: "If You Irrigate, It's Not Terroir..."

#214 Post by Jonathan Loesberg »

Mel Knox wrote: April 7th, 2021, 7:58 pm I've been thinking about my Wm F Buckley Jr take on Junipero Serra. There is one big difference between the Roman Catholic church and the notion of terroir. The Popes and cardinals through the ages have figured out what the church believes, and if you don't agree, maybe you should think about becoming a Lutheran.

But we have many different notions of what terroir is. A country where the notion of a quality vineyard includes the word drainage and needs to add sugar to fermentors just might have a different notion than one where it rains three times a year and the water retaining qualities of clay soil are prized.
And yet, it remains the case that if you don't believe that terroir exists, you can't logically have a position on whether a given feature is or is not part of it. I will also note, as Eric's post above indicates, French speakers do have a pretty consistent idea of what terroir means.The trouble comes with Americans, who first import the word and then decide they don't like the meaning that came with the word they imported.

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Re: "If You Irrigate, It's Not Terroir..."

#215 Post by Alan Rath »

Jonathan Loesberg wrote: April 8th, 2021, 11:34 am And yet, it remains the case that if you don't believe that terroir exists, you can't logically have a position on whether a given feature is or is not part of it. I will also note, as Eric's post above indicates, French speakers do have a pretty consistent idea of what terroir means.The trouble comes with Americans, who first import the word and then decide they don't like the meaning that came with the word they imported.
I don’t think anyone on this thread, frankly the entire board, believes terroir does not exist. Pretty much anyone into fine wine believes in terroir, I hope. But if the meaning is just a contorted patchwork of arbitrary rules which allow some things, and forbid others - based to some extent on the needs and character of the region itself, not some overarching general definition that could be applied anywhere - there seems little point in even trying to define it. We honor the French by adopting their word, and respecting the intent of the concept; in return they tell us we can’t even get out of the starting gate because our arbitrary rules don’t exactly match theirs.
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Re: "If You Irrigate, It's Not Terroir..."

#216 Post by Jonathan Loesberg »

Look, if you take terroir to entail land, weather an also social, cultural and historical conditions it follows that some practices that one region considers central, another one will consider verboten. I don't know the full context for Brunier's quote, but it would be true in CdP, that irrigation does not respect that terroir as they understand it. It seems to me that large generalizations about how irrigation is no different than rain is far more disrespectful pf a particular region's understanding of its own winemaking. Nothing about the French meaning of the word implies that what follows for one regoon also follows for another.

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Re: "If You Irrigate, It's Not Terroir..."

#217 Post by Chris Crutchfield »

This entire thread is just Alan misinterpreting and twisting the words of the original quote as well as other posters to perceive it as some sort of sleight against others.

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Re: "If You Irrigate, It's Not Terroir..."

#218 Post by Al Osterheld »

There were some interesting discussions along the way.

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Re: "If You Irrigate, It's Not Terroir..."

#219 Post by Alan Rath »

Chris Crutchfield wrote: April 8th, 2021, 2:24 pm This entire thread is just Alan misinterpreting and twisting the words of the original quote as well as other posters to perceive it as some sort of sleight against others.
Sigh. In what universe is "If you irrigate it's not terroir. If you irrigate it's a piece of land where you grow something” not a slight against anyone who does, or might on occasion (e.g., most of California)? I admit that I have not listened to the entire podcast, so don’t know if the quote was taken out of context. Maybe there’s more that is redeeming in some way, but I honestly don’t know how you get out of that quote without having insulted growers who do irrigate.

And the discussion might be more interesting if some posters made their own counter arguments, instead of just taking personal shots at mine.
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Re: "If You Irrigate, It's Not Terroir..."

#220 Post by D@vid Bu3ker »

Alan Rath wrote: April 8th, 2021, 3:53 pm
Chris Crutchfield wrote: April 8th, 2021, 2:24 pm This entire thread is just Alan misinterpreting and twisting the words of the original quote as well as other posters to perceive it as some sort of sleight against others.
Sigh. In what universe is "If you irrigate it's not terroir. If you irrigate it's a piece of land where you grow something” not a slight against anyone who does, or might on occasion (e.g., most of California)? I admit that I have not listened to the entire podcast, so don’t know if the quote was taken out of context. Maybe there’s more that is redeeming in some way, but I honestly don’t know how you get out of that quote without having insulted growers who do irrigate.

And the discussion might be more interesting if some posters made their own counter arguments, instead of just taking personal shots at mine.
Seems like the only one who agrees with you...wait for it...you.
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Re: "If You Irrigate, It's Not Terroir..."

#221 Post by Alan Rath »

Ah, so he’s praising those who irrigate, not saying “you’re no better than someone who grows row crops, you might as well plant your grapes along the highway in Salinas Valley”. My mistake.
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Re: "If You Irrigate, It's Not Terroir..."

#222 Post by D@vid Bu3ker »

Alan Rath wrote: April 8th, 2021, 4:33 pm Ah, so he’s praising those who irrigate, not saying “you’re no better than someone who grows row crops, you might as well plant your grapes along the highway in Salinas Valley”. My mistake.
You really are off the rails.
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Re: "If You Irrigate, It's Not Terroir..."

#223 Post by Chris Crutchfield »

Alan Rath wrote: April 8th, 2021, 3:53 pm
Chris Crutchfield wrote: April 8th, 2021, 2:24 pm This entire thread is just Alan misinterpreting and twisting the words of the original quote as well as other posters to perceive it as some sort of sleight against others.
Sigh. In what universe is "If you irrigate it's not terroir. If you irrigate it's a piece of land where you grow something” not a slight against anyone who does, or might on occasion (e.g., most of California)? I admit that I have not listened to the entire podcast, so don’t know if the quote was taken out of context. Maybe there’s more that is redeeming in some way, but I honestly don’t know how you get out of that quote without having insulted growers who do irrigate.

And the discussion might be more interesting if some posters made their own counter arguments, instead of just taking personal shots at mine.
I don’t know, man. Maybe try reading the 5 pages of people trying to explain it to you.

This thread has been going in circles since roughly page 2 or so. Let’s just let this topic die mercifully.

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Re: "If You Irrigate, It's Not Terroir..."

#224 Post by Alan Rath »

D@vid Bu3ker wrote: April 8th, 2021, 4:35 pm
Alan Rath wrote: April 8th, 2021, 4:33 pm Ah, so he’s praising those who irrigate, not saying “you’re no better than someone who grows row crops, you might as well plant your grapes along the highway in Salinas Valley”. My mistake.
You really are off the rails.
After about the 8th time you’ve simply insulted me, maybe you’d like to make an actual counter argument, and tell us what you think he’s saying? It’s a discussion board, after all, try it.
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Re: "If You Irrigate, It's Not Terroir..."

#225 Post by Alan Rath »

Chris Crutchfield wrote: April 8th, 2021, 4:46 pm
Alan Rath wrote: April 8th, 2021, 3:53 pm
Chris Crutchfield wrote: April 8th, 2021, 2:24 pm This entire thread is just Alan misinterpreting and twisting the words of the original quote as well as other posters to perceive it as some sort of sleight against others.
Sigh. In what universe is "If you irrigate it's not terroir. If you irrigate it's a piece of land where you grow something” not a slight against anyone who does, or might on occasion (e.g., most of California)? I admit that I have not listened to the entire podcast, so don’t know if the quote was taken out of context. Maybe there’s more that is redeeming in some way, but I honestly don’t know how you get out of that quote without having insulted growers who do irrigate.

And the discussion might be more interesting if some posters made their own counter arguments, instead of just taking personal shots at mine.
I don’t know, man. Maybe try reading the 5 pages of people trying to explain it to you.

This thread has been going in circles since roughly page 2 or so. Let’s just let this topic die mercifully.
No. All of the discussion has been about what we think terroir can or cannot include, how rain, irrigation, dry farming are different in how they impact vine root growth, with some useful insight from a couple of Frenchmen. I see very little commentary on the actual quote in the OP. I see nothing telling me what Brunier intended, if not a swipe at non-French vineyards that don’t live by their arbitrary rules.

Hell, maybe I’m just dense, have missed the entire point of the OP, and am off the rails.
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Re: "If You Irrigate, It's Not Terroir..."

#226 Post by Cris Whetstone »

I don't think it's the world against Alan at all. He's just one of the few willing to deal with the gaslighting and dogma being treated as facts. Mr Texier for instance wrote a very nice if romantic piece on terroir. It's lovely from a thousand foot view. It also happens to be light on specifics and explanations. The specifics seems to always be left up to those who want to define their own 'terroir' as the best. Anyone trying to understand the specifics is labeled an 'unbeliever' as mentioned here.

Most anyone with any great knowledge of wine believes in "terroir". I do. I'm pretty damn sure Alan does. But believing it exists and can be somewhat useful in discerning wines of quality is quite different from believing all the claims notable people in the wine world make about terroir. It's explained as this amorphous thing yet individuals get to pick and choose specifics as it suits them in order to make claims about the superiority of particular terroir over others. Questioning those specifics and the logic or lack thereof within is somehow misinterpreting or not believing.

Underneath it all the notions of terroir are largely a selling point. It is obviously useful for a proprietor to tell you why the locations of their vineyards are superior to those of the next village. We expect that. But if you get to the point where you are making specific claims that are more about undercutting the other guy rather than boosting your own then you should have to defend yourself with facts and be able to explain your position. That's what irks about the claims in the top post. The claims about where the water comes from are clearly not about propping up some places but about discounting others. Those making those sorts of claims should defend them with something better than feel good notions of non-intervention and adulteration. Or maybe let the products speak for themselves.
Last edited by Cris Whetstone on April 8th, 2021, 6:49 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: "If You Irrigate, It's Not Terroir..."

#227 Post by D@vid Bu3ker »

This thread gets more ridiculous every time a new person joins in.

Terroir is a concept. Stop trying to treat it like scientific fact.
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Re: "If You Irrigate, It's Not Terroir..."

#228 Post by Cris Whetstone »

D@vid Bu3ker wrote: April 8th, 2021, 6:14 pm This thread gets more ridiculous every time a new person joins in.

Terroir is a concept. Stop trying to treat it like scientific fact.
As I pointed out I'm perfectly comfortable with the concept and I'm not new to the thread. But I'm not the one trying to make factual claims about it:
If you irrigate it's not terroir. If you irrigate it's a piece of land where you grow something.
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Re: "If You Irrigate, It's Not Terroir..."

#229 Post by Marshall Manning »

Alan Rath wrote: April 8th, 2021, 3:53 pm And the discussion might be more interesting if some posters made their own counter arguments, instead of just taking personal shots at mine.
Alan, I think some did. I was really interested in what winemakers, growers, and others who had serious thoughts about it had to say because I think it's an interesting topic. But far more people brought up things totally irrelevant to that question (chaptalization, etc.) and "what about" arguments that derailed the original question. I don't get why people can't stick to the topic.
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Re: "If You Irrigate, It's Not Terroir..."

#230 Post by Marshall Manning »

Alan Rath wrote: April 8th, 2021, 4:54 pm I see nothing telling me what Brunier intended, if not a swipe at non-French vineyards that don’t live by their arbitrary rules.

Hell, maybe I’m just dense, have missed the entire point of the OP, and am off the rails.
Alan, there are lots of producers outside France that choose not to irrigate because they feel it doesn't make the best wines. Some of them even post here and have contributed to this discussion, which I appreciate. This wasn't intended as a France vs. USA (or any other country) discussion, just whether irrigation has a negative effect on reflection of terroir.
Last edited by Marshall Manning on April 9th, 2021, 8:50 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: "If You Irrigate, It's Not Terroir..."

#231 Post by Chris Crutchfield »

Oh no Marshall, you made a typo (affect vs. effect). Now Alan is going to snarkily reply to your comment and italicize your mistake to demonstrate that your argument is inferior. That's because he can't seem to stand not having the last word on anything, and that's why this. thread. will. never. just. die.

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Re: "If You Irrigate, It's Not Terroir..."

#232 Post by James Billy »

I see Alan making some very straightforward, rational arguments (possibly misquoting others, I don't know, but that's not the point.)

I see some quite emotional retorts (along with some reasoned responses) and a heck of a lot of personal attacks on Alan from people not offereing reasoned debate. I joined in the debate and was mocked by someone, too, without explanation. Maybe, if you can't win the argument, attack the person?

I think there's nothing intrinsically wrong with irrigation as long as it isn't overused. And just because some may misuse it doesn't make it inherently bad. I think something similar been said before, but how many times have you read a vintage report that said something like, "after a severe dry spell, a perfectly timed downpour occurred at a perfectly timed moment before harvest that helped raise the quality of the grapes."?

As for terroir, it's such a nebulous term as to be difficult or even impossible to fit into a logical debate. If we can't agree what it is, how can we agree on how it can be respected (whatever THAT entails.)

The French make amazing wine, but they are also masters of marketing. And terroir is their Pièce De Résistance when it comes to differentiating their products. Which isn't to deny that the concept of terroir has no worth. There is clearly truth in it, but the devil is in the detail.

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Re: "If You Irrigate, It's Not Terroir..."

#233 Post by Chris Crutchfield »

deadhorse <<< current state of this thread

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Re: "If You Irrigate, It's Not Terroir..."

#234 Post by James Billy »

Chris Crutchfield wrote: April 8th, 2021, 8:50 pm Oh no Marshall, you made a typo (affect vs. effect). Now Alan is going to snarkily reply to your comment and italicize your mistake to demonstrate that your argument is inferior. That's because he can't seem to stand not having the last word on anything, and that's why this. thread. will. never. just. die.
Bizarre comment. He has only ever discussed wine. He has never been pedantic or childish like that.

Another personal attack.

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Re: "If You Irrigate, It's Not Terroir..."

#235 Post by James Billy »

Chris Crutchfield wrote: April 8th, 2021, 9:49 pm deadhorse <<< current state of this thread
Yet another comment without reasoned debate.

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Re: "If You Irrigate, It's Not Terroir..."

#236 Post by Alan Rath »

James Billy wrote: April 8th, 2021, 10:10 pm
Chris Crutchfield wrote: April 8th, 2021, 8:50 pm Oh no Marshall, you made a typo (affect vs. effect). Now Alan is going to snarkily reply to your comment and italicize your mistake to demonstrate that your argument is inferior. That's because he can't seem to stand not having the last word on anything, and that's why this. thread. will. never. just. die.
Bizarre comment. He has only ever discussed wine. He has never been pedantic or childish like that.

Another personal attack.
No, Chris is right, I took a bit of a cheap shot at a typo, in my frustration that anyone could really read the original quote differently than I have interpreted it through this thread. For that I apologize, it was unnecessary.
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Re: "If You Irrigate, It's Not Terroir..."

#237 Post by Chris Crutchfield »

James Billy wrote: April 8th, 2021, 10:10 pm Bizarre comment. He has only ever discussed wine. He has never been pedantic or childish like that.

Another personal attack.
Here's the post.

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Re: "If You Irrigate, It's Not Terroir..."

#238 Post by Bruce G. »

In all of the back and forth here I didn't notice that anyone went to the podcast to see if the comment in question was clarified or developed beyond the single quote in the OP.
If anyone has done this and I missed it, my apologies.

But here is a more complete transcript of the offending passage...
24:09
DALTON: So, when I look at the pictures of La Crau—I haven’t been there..... I apologize.
When I look at the pictures—and I can’t tell if I’m looking at everything or just, you know, just a piece of it—it seems like the spacing is pretty wide.

BRUNIER: Yeah, you’re right..... yeah, you’re right. Don’t forget we are in a dry climate. We are in a place where we do not irrigate. Uh, I don’t have to recall you that for us no irrigation means terroir. It means, if you irrigate it’s not terroir, it’s a piece of land where you grow something. So..... no irrigation, dry climate, bush pruning..... gobelet pruning.....

DALTON: It has to be, right?

BRUNIER: Yeah, it has to be by law. For the Grenache, for the Mourvedre, for the Cinsault. It has to be like this. So, we need room for the leaves. We need room for the tractors. We need room to cross the things, to cross in terms of plowing..... just because we do an organic growing and we like to cross. And we need room because of the competition, in term of soil..... in term of the surface on the soil, because of the water. Because the vines need water. If they are too close together, they compete.
There is big philosophy in all regions, too..... that the more you have feet (vines?) on a hectare, the more you make quality. Honestly, I don’t think it works in our region. It’s good for Burgundy. It’s good for Bordeaux. It’s good for the humid regions. Because they have water and they have to compete. If there is no competition there is no quality. But our vines compete against nature. Against sunshine. Against wind. Against humidity. Not against vines. So that’s really..... it’s another world. And when I see in the south of France every vine planted every meter, I’m a bit confused. Because a real gobelet is one meter size of diameter after 80 years old. It’s minimum one meter of diameter after 80 years old. So, if you plant every one meter it means you just give to your gobelet 50 cms of development. So, it’s restraining. And you don’t have enough air. There is no way where the mistral can turn around, can dry your things, and can be helpful for the grapes.
27:00
It seems to me that he was talking about specific restrictions on viticultural practices in AOC Chateauneuf-du-Pape.
This idea is further reinforced by an earlier snippet of conversation.....
11:14
BRUNIER: ..... and then underground we reach the clay. Big, red, and underground the orange clay with, also, in between 70% of stones. The water goes through the first layer and stay in the clay. That means we have from the soil..... about 2 meters underground..... we have about one year of reserve of water.

DALTON: Must be helpful in drought years.

BRUNIER: Oh, yeah.

DALTON: Like ’81..... that was a drought year, right?

BRUNIER: Like ’81, like ’99, like ’96, like 2006, like 2003. So, we are in the south of France. Don’t forget it. And it’s forbidden to irrigate. Of course, we do not irrigate. We cannot call it terroir if it’s irrigated or drained.
12:01
People can take offense if they want. But it doesn't seem as if he's throwing stones at anyone else, just talking about the realities of working within the appellation.
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Re: "If You Irrigate, It's Not Terroir..."

#239 Post by James Billy »

Chris Crutchfield wrote: April 8th, 2021, 10:31 pm
James Billy wrote: April 8th, 2021, 10:10 pm Bizarre comment. He has only ever discussed wine. He has never been pedantic or childish like that.

Another personal attack.
Here's the post.
Sorry. I missed that.

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Re: "If You Irrigate, It's Not Terroir..."

#240 Post by James Billy »

Bruce G. wrote: April 9th, 2021, 2:45 am In all of the back and forth here I didn't notice that anyone went to the podcast to see if the comment in question was clarified or developed beyond the single quote in the OP.
If anyone has done this and I missed it, my apologies.

But here is a more complete transcript of the offending passage...
24:09
DALTON: So, when I look at the pictures of La Crau—I haven’t been there..... I apologize.
When I look at the pictures—and I can’t tell if I’m looking at everything or just, you know, just a piece of it—it seems like the spacing is pretty wide.

BRUNIER: Yeah, you’re right..... yeah, you’re right. Don’t forget we are in a dry climate. We are in a place where we do not irrigate. Uh, I don’t have to recall you that for us no irrigation means terroir. It means, if you irrigate it’s not terroir, it’s a piece of land where you grow something. So..... no irrigation, dry climate, bush pruning..... gobelet pruning.....

DALTON: It has to be, right?

BRUNIER: Yeah, it has to be by law. For the Grenache, for the Mourvedre, for the Cinsault. It has to be like this. So, we need room for the leaves. We need room for the tractors. We need room to cross the things, to cross in terms of plowing..... just because we do an organic growing and we like to cross. And we need room because of the competition, in term of soil..... in term of the surface on the soil, because of the water. Because the vines need water. If they are too close together, they compete.
There is big philosophy in all regions, too..... that the more you have feet (vines?) on a hectare, the more you make quality. Honestly, I don’t think it works in our region. It’s good for Burgundy. It’s good for Bordeaux. It’s good for the humid regions. Because they have water and they have to compete. If there is no competition there is no quality. But our vines compete against nature. Against sunshine. Against wind. Against humidity. Not against vines. So that’s really..... it’s another world. And when I see in the south of France every vine planted every meter, I’m a bit confused. Because a real gobelet is one meter size of diameter after 80 years old. It’s minimum one meter of diameter after 80 years old. So, if you plant every one meter it means you just give to your gobelet 50 cms of development. So, it’s restraining. And you don’t have enough air. There is no way where the mistral can turn around, can dry your things, and can be helpful for the grapes.
27:00
It seems to me that he was talking about specific restrictions on viticultural practices in AOC Chateauneuf-du-Pape.
This idea is further reinforced by an earlier snippet of conversation.....
11:14
BRUNIER: ..... and then underground we reach the clay. Big, red, and underground the orange clay with, also, in between 70% of stones. The water goes through the first layer and stay in the clay. That means we have from the soil..... about 2 meters underground..... we have about one year of reserve of water.

DALTON: Must be helpful in drought years.

BRUNIER: Oh, yeah.

DALTON: Like ’81..... that was a drought year, right?

BRUNIER: Like ’81, like ’99, like ’96, like 2006, like 2003. So, we are in the south of France. Don’t forget it. And it’s forbidden to irrigate. Of course, we do not irrigate. We cannot call it terroir if it’s irrigated or drained.
12:01
People can take offense if they want. But it doesn't seem as if he's throwing stones at anyone else, just talking about the realities of working within the appellation.
"We cannot call it terroir if it’s irrigated or drained." So irrigated land isn't terroir. A stone through the window of most of his New World competitors.

The same message as in the OP.

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Re: "If You Irrigate, It's Not Terroir..."

#241 Post by Otto Forsberg »

James Billy wrote: April 9th, 2021, 4:47 am "We cannot call it terroir if it’s irrigated or drained." So irrigated land isn't terroir. A stone through the window of most of his New World competitors.
What do you mean by that?

Doesn't that mean that the terroir of CdP is defined as unirrigated land. He doesn't say a word about anything beyond CdP.
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Re: "If You Irrigate, It's Not Terroir..."

#242 Post by Doug Schulman »

Bruce G. wrote: April 9th, 2021, 2:45 am In all of the back and forth here I didn't notice that anyone went to the podcast to see if the comment in question was clarified or developed beyond the single quote in the OP.
If anyone has done this and I missed it, my apologies.

But here is a more complete transcript of the offending passage...
24:09
DALTON: So, when I look at the pictures of La Crau—I haven’t been there..... I apologize.
When I look at the pictures—and I can’t tell if I’m looking at everything or just, you know, just a piece of it—it seems like the spacing is pretty wide.

BRUNIER: Yeah, you’re right..... yeah, you’re right. Don’t forget we are in a dry climate. We are in a place where we do not irrigate. Uh, I don’t have to recall you that for us no irrigation means terroir. It means, if you irrigate it’s not terroir, it’s a piece of land where you grow something. So..... no irrigation, dry climate, bush pruning..... gobelet pruning.....

DALTON: It has to be, right?

BRUNIER: Yeah, it has to be by law. For the Grenache, for the Mourvedre, for the Cinsault. It has to be like this. So, we need room for the leaves. We need room for the tractors. We need room to cross the things, to cross in terms of plowing..... just because we do an organic growing and we like to cross. And we need room because of the competition, in term of soil..... in term of the surface on the soil, because of the water. Because the vines need water. If they are too close together, they compete.
There is big philosophy in all regions, too..... that the more you have feet (vines?) on a hectare, the more you make quality. Honestly, I don’t think it works in our region. It’s good for Burgundy. It’s good for Bordeaux. It’s good for the humid regions. Because they have water and they have to compete. If there is no competition there is no quality. But our vines compete against nature. Against sunshine. Against wind. Against humidity. Not against vines. So that’s really..... it’s another world. And when I see in the south of France every vine planted every meter, I’m a bit confused. Because a real gobelet is one meter size of diameter after 80 years old. It’s minimum one meter of diameter after 80 years old. So, if you plant every one meter it means you just give to your gobelet 50 cms of development. So, it’s restraining. And you don’t have enough air. There is no way where the mistral can turn around, can dry your things, and can be helpful for the grapes.
27:00
It seems to me that he was talking about specific restrictions on viticultural practices in AOC Chateauneuf-du-Pape.
This idea is further reinforced by an earlier snippet of conversation.....
11:14
BRUNIER: ..... and then underground we reach the clay. Big, red, and underground the orange clay with, also, in between 70% of stones. The water goes through the first layer and stay in the clay. That means we have from the soil..... about 2 meters underground..... we have about one year of reserve of water.

DALTON: Must be helpful in drought years.

BRUNIER: Oh, yeah.

DALTON: Like ’81..... that was a drought year, right?

BRUNIER: Like ’81, like ’99, like ’96, like 2006, like 2003. So, we are in the south of France. Don’t forget it. And it’s forbidden to irrigate. Of course, we do not irrigate. We cannot call it terroir if it’s irrigated or drained.
12:01
People can take offense if they want. But it doesn't seem as if he's throwing stones at anyone else, just talking about the realities of working within the appellation.
So, this whole trainwreck of a thread is based on a quotation taken out of context. I guess that shouldn't be surprising. I agree with your interpretation. Thanks for posting this.

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Re: "If You Irrigate, It's Not Terroir..."

#243 Post by Chris Crutchfield »

James Billy wrote: April 9th, 2021, 4:47 am "We cannot call it terroir if it’s irrigated or drained." So irrigated land isn't terroir. A stone through the window of most of his New World competitors.

The same message as in the OP.
I’m not sure how you can possibly read that transcript and come to that conclusion.

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Re: "If You Irrigate, It's Not Terroir..."

#244 Post by Wes Barton »

So, the real context is he wouldn't be allowed to claim the AOC if he irrigated, because that would clash with their bureaucratic constraints to claim that terroir. Not, that he couldn't smartly irrigate and make identical wine with more vines per acre. (Also, that his vines do grow to fill his spacing at 80 years old, and the vast majority down there aren't taking that long view in their spacing. It's then fair to infer many would irrigate if they could, and not necessarily well, since they are balancing compliance and shorter-term financial gains.)
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Re: "If You Irrigate, It's Not Terroir..."

#245 Post by James Billy »

I see what you guys mean. I read 'we' as meaning 'one.' One cannot irrigate and call it terroir. But I see that it probably is 'we' as in 'our AOP.'

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Re: "If You Irrigate, It's Not Terroir..."

#246 Post by Al Osterheld »

Yeah, the whole thrust of the interview is a discussion of things specific to CdP and why it's different from regions like Burgundy or Bordeaux, also that the structure of the soil allows them to not irrigate if the vines have deep roots. All sounds reasonable and maybe some points could be debated, but no BS that I can see.

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Re: "If You Irrigate, It's Not Terroir..."

#247 Post by Eric Texier »

Alan Rath wrote: April 8th, 2021, 10:47 am The very heart of winegrowing, literally the most important aspect, is the ability for a site to produce optimally ripe fruit.
Alan,

I don't really get it : optimally towards which criterii?
Chardonnay in Jura, Chablis, Cote d'or, Gavilan Mountain, Willamette or Yorkshire shows very different enological ripenesses, in terms of acidity, sugar, phenolic compounds, pH,...)
Does this mean that only one of these places can be called a Chardonnay terroir?

Optimal ripeness is precisely, totally related to terroir. Overripe in Jura might well be perfectly ripe in CA.
Optimally ripe in Vezelay or Yorkshire will obviously be totally underripe in CA.

Irrigation allows growers to either grow a plant where it couldn't be grown naturally or get yields that couldn't have been acheive without it (and as a consequence what you call an optimal ripeness).
The intention behind it is either the will of feeding a bigger population than possible without or to make more money than the place would allow too.

It's fine, but it is the opposite of the mediteranean traditionnal idea of terroir. Maybe not of the sort of pseudo-rationnal, more or less climate and soil based, materialistic idea of it that most of the consumerist world has developped (including most of people in those countries who developped the concept of terroir ).

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Re: "If You Irrigate, It's Not Terroir..."

#248 Post by Mich@el Ch@ng »

Probably the easiest comparison of this concept is comparing opus one to Macdonald.

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Re: "If You Irrigate, It's Not Terroir..."

#249 Post by Eric Ifune »

What about the use of smudge pots in Burgundy?
https://www.winespectator.com/articles/ ... s-burgundy

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Re: "If You Irrigate, It's Not Terroir..."

#250 Post by Jim Anderson »

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