Terroir is a word which has many definitions, most are ambiguous. In its most literal meaning Terroir is land, however when one says terroir, one implies all the influences with which the vines are subjected to realised in the taste and sensory possibilities of the grapes, when turned into wine. Vines are the only plant capable of reflecting the individual identity of where they grow. Other fruits and vegetables do not and this is what makes wine special.
France, especially Burgundy is the birth place of terroir. The cistercian monks over the centuries developed an understanding for the nuances of the Côtes de Nuits and Côtes de Beaune. Names were given to Lieux Dits (places). The Burgundian model in todays world is not efficient, it is the exact opposite of the world we live, rather than trying to rationalise and find conformity, the burgundians embrace the indivuality and idiosyncracies of each lieux dit which is not cost efficient and not modern.
In the Champagne region the monks understood also the importance ot terror, however with the discovery of how to make champagne, they chose to blend rather than express the individuality of each terroir.
In the eighties saw the rise of Robert Parker, his point system demanded conformity. In the new world producers rejected the idea of terroir, believing with technology and massive investment, wines of equal stature could be produced in the cellar. These wines which Parker adored and presented with his market moving points dominated the wines scene for a long time. If your taste conformed Parker then it was a good time and still is to buy and drink wine.
If your taste did not conform to Parkers then Burgundy offered a haven, here expressing terroir was on the whole the ultimate challenge.
As Parkers influence waned, the Burgundian model become more de rigeur. Producers all over Europe and the New World discovered the need to make wines in the vineyard rather than in the cellar. Champagne was one of these regions. The pioneers like Anselme Selosse, Larmandier-Bernier, De Sousa and Boulard paved the way.
To do a tasting of Grand Cru Chambertin is illuminating. Comparing Chapelle-Chambertin, Charmes-Chambertin, Griotte-Chambertin and Latricière-Chambertin is discovering the changes and nuances in soil which occurs within 5 metres and how this is expressed in the wine is fascinating and unfortunately for most mortals today due to the prices demanded for these wines impossible.
Pinot noir and Chardonnay are alongside Riesling and Chenin Blanc the grapes most capable of expressing the nuances of the sites where they grow. Many regions have tried to emulate what Burgundy does but never quite achieve what Burgundy can achieve, with perhaps the exception of the Champagne region. Pinot Noir and Chardonnay have a long tradition of being grown here. The climate warming which is proving detrimental to burgundy is proving to be advantageous for the Champagne region. A generation of young wine producers, who have experienced working in other regions, countries and contintent are returning and see the burgundian model, meaning the expression of terroir rather than blending, the way of the large traditional house as the way forward.
If you want to experience the nuances of terroir without going bankrupt then Champagne is probably the best place to start. Champagne is more than a luxury article reserved for the few. The region offers a diversity of styles at affordable prices if taken in the context of how much one has to pay for a similiar quality in other regions. A further advantage, one is buying a wine that has been cellared and released at a point where the producer believes the drinking window has begun.
If you choose to go go on this journey discovering the nuances of champagne, then we are perhaps one of most competent partners to accompany you. If the list of producers we have is intimidating, please do not hesitate to contact us and profit from our expertise. Assaggi means in italian „to taste“, only through tasting can one really discover the plethora of styles and the nuances of terroir.