In this era of once-unimaginable scientific advancements in winemaking, terroir is an increasingly critical concept. It is a last stand for authenticity.
For further insight, we asked some Greek wine-producers to describe «Terroir in Four Sentences». Their replies:
Stellios Boutaris, Kir-Yianni, Naoussa & Amyndeon
We are accustomed to saying that terroir is the combination of soil, climate and grape variety, all forming the characteristics of the wine produced in an area. As far as I am concerned, the «human» factor needs to be added on the three above characteristics. Wine is not just an agricultural product, since in order to be produced it requires craftsmanship, vision and perspective. Therefore, I would say that man has been the most basic characteristic of the terroir of various areas around the world in recent years.
Angelos Iatridis, Alpha Estate, Amyndeon
The dynamics of the interaction between climatic, territorial, geological, morphological elements of an area and their relationship with man and a specific cultivation are the identity of a geographical indication which is described by the «French» producers as Terroir. As I have pointed out in many lectures in the past, the Greek term ecosystem most accurately depicts a wine region which, apart from the historical background it may entail, it also highlights the evolution of this area in time. A characteristic example is the climatic change which serves as proof data for the scientific community.
Vangelis Gerovassiliou, Gerovassiliou Estate, Epanomi Thessaloniki
Soil, climate, geomorphology, but also human intervention. A collaboration, a synergy. The ideal combination of the above for the production of a unique wine which expresses the typical characteristics of an area. Several winemakers describe it as a "musical instrument"; it is useless if you don't know how to play it. There is no scientific explanation, but we can surely taste it in our glasses.
George Skouras, Skouras Estate, Nemea
Terroir- Growth – Area: for some reason, a coinciding course of all the above factors determine high quality in grapes and wines of the area. The soil, the morphology, the components, the climate, the rain, the humidity, the wind and many other elements of nature work together to produce high quality wines. All of them together are called Terroir.
And you either have it or you don't. As simple as that.
Thanassis Arvanitidis, winemaker, Arvanitidis Estate, Askos Thessaloniki
Terroir is essentially what makes wine interesting by showing you where it comes from. Without terroir you simply have homogenized varietal wines that can be replicated any time like any other product. Terroir may lack definition, but it has meaning, it means «a sense of place».
So there it is: think terroir, think place. Think distinction - a wine that could only possibly be from Naoussa, or from Santorini, or Nemea. And now that you're schooled on the topic, go out and find your favourite Greek terroir.