Pian‘dell Orino owner Jan Hendrik Erbach has recently spoken about his long and costly search for a terroir in Montalcino, saying that the time and effort spent on geology will make his wine one of the best in the region.
Terroir may be a common term in fine wine regions, but there are seldom places where its meaning implies so many connotations as in Montalcino. Geologists have found that many different soil profiles in the region that they have even talked about creating defined sub-appellations.
One wine which has reaped the rewards from its terroir is Brunello di Montalcino. Mr Hendrik Erbach told Palate Press: “As soon as I tasted that wine, I dedicated myself to finding the perfect terroir to create an even better Brunello di Montalcino.” The consequent results were years of work and tens of thousands of euros, but the results will be clear to see.
The quest for the perfect vineyard began in 1995. At first, it was a philosophical quest based on the belief that the soil is crucial for the character of the wine. He therefore started to make classifications of the soils in Montalcino, and define vineyards in a precise way.
This brought him to a farm where there were several plots with wildly different soil (clay, sand, calcareous Palombini among others), which he believed would improve the complexity of his wines. After a few years of successful vintages, the owners have the proof that their gut instinct was right.
Minerality is also a topic that is widely debated when it comes to soil and wine. Wine minerality refers to the aromas and flavours that have stony, earthy or other soil characteristics. Some also include the 'tension,' 'nerviness' or 'grit' in a wine represents minerality. The unofficial definition of minerality adopted by quite a few wine gurus is that minerality is the taste of stones or the smokiness usually accompanied by vivid acidity. Some define it simply as 'the absence of fruit.'
There is relatively little evidence to suggest that soil has a big impact on wine. But from Mr Hendrik Erbach's passion for terroir and debates over minerality, it would seem that it is becoming an increasingly topical matter.
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