Riesling, lime marl, red sandstone, granite – what do these ascriptions tell us?
What role does the terroir play?
Every wine has an origin, comes from a region, from a cultural landscape and this complex understanding of “home” is best defined by the French term terroir (French terroir m. “Area”, from Latin terra “earth”). This is used by wine experts but is not always easy to convey for us at the point of sale.
However, it cannot be wrong to refer to the Latin origin of this word and to leave out the other factors such as microclimate, people, geological conditions, altitude, wind, etc. and take the soil.
Because every vine grows on one that always has a complex structure and, in addition to the consistently existing loess clay coverings and due to its geological origin, can have special features – precisely those shell limestone deposits, red sandstone deposits, or porphyry of volcanic origin. These soils all have a different occurrence of minerals – important representatives are, for example, calcium, sodium, potassium, and magnesium, but also traces of iron, etc …
How do we recognize mineral wines?
If we now talk about minerality in wine, then one could assume that these minerals can be specifically assigned in the pressed wine and can be measured, displayed, and tasted.
Scientific analyzes have shown, however, that the content of these minerals is very low and below the palatable tolerance limit. But what do wine lovers taste than when they rave about the salt tones of the great locations in Sancerre, emphasize the slate layers of the Moselle or talk about iron in the Rotliegend?
The influence of different wine yeasts
The fermentation process, especially if it is based on natural yeasts, is anything but easy. In addition to the classic results of carbon dioxide and alcohol, there are a number of substances that we perceive as taste: esters and other compounds, phenols, etc. The basis is laid in the grape skins and in the pips in the pulp as well as in the must can be sensed after the fermentation process has ended.
The complex interplay of technology – natural yeasts or pure yeasts, maceration time or none, high or low pressure – is decisive for the flavor character of the wine and whether we can taste minerals without them being directly present in the wine. As a comparison, we can, for example, taste a peach note in some Rieslings without the latter ever having seen a peach.