Terroir - Myth and/or Reality - Outstanding Marketing Idea? A Review
In former times the term terroir was connatated negatively. “Le goût du terroir” concerned wines, which could not be sold outside a region, because of quality defects. Later, “terroir products” included agricultural goods produced in specific areas. French scientists developed during the last 3 decennials a scientific base for the system “terroir”. All agricultural production systems adhere to a “unité terroir de base (UTB)”. An interaction with viticulture, changes it to a “unité terroir viticole (UTV)”. An UTV together with a farm or an AOC creates an identifiable typicity of wines. Other groups of scientists in esp. in Germany tried to find out the influences of meso- and microclima on quality parameters of grapevines as well as soil, nutrients, water and soil heat budget. Mesoclimatic, geomorphological, and soil parameters can explain approximately 60-70% of the yield formation as well as the sugar accumulation in berries. The unexplained variability adheres to human skills, soil management, harvesting techniques etc.. Following the production chain from bunches to wine increasing interventions occur: juice extraction systems, spontaneous or controlled fermentation with defined yeast strains. Temperature control, filtration systems will exert an influence on the final wine quality. In contrast to the limited intervention during production of grapes, wine making exceed by far the first mentioned and terroir turns to a “quantité negligeable” in the final wine. Nonetheless, on the consumers’ side terroir is still in discussion. Producers have to respect these movements and have to develop strategies how to incorporate those ideas in their production schemes and their marketing activities.
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