Category Archives: Terroir

May 05 2011

Domaine de la Romanée-Conti: The Quintessential Expression of Terroir

Posted on May 05, 2011 | By merrill@cellarit.com

If you really want to understand how even small nuances in terroir can create wines with very distinct personalities, the wines of Burgundy’s most famous and revered estate, Domaine de la Romanée-Conti (DRC), are perhaps the most telling examples.

DRC either owns outright or has an interest in six of the Grands Cru vineyards of Vosne-Romanée. These vineyards either adjoin or are closely located to each other and some are very small. The most celebrated of them all, La Romanée-Conti, is less than five acres.

Positioned mid-slope above La Romanée-St-Vivant, the well-drained soil of La Romanée-Conti is stonier, shallower and poorer than the lower sited La Romanée-St-Vivant. Of course, both of these vineyards are endowed with the signature, highly prized soil of the Cote d’Or – a mixture of silt and scree over layers of marlstone and clay on a base of calcium-rich limestone. But the slight differences in soil type, orientation and elevation of the different vineyards impart unique and authentic characteristics to the wine.

According to esteemed British wine critic Hugh Johnson, La Romanée-Conti is the quintessential expression of pinot noir. It is exotically perfumed, richly nuanced, concentrated and complex with perfect balance. La Romanée-St-Vivant is slightly lighter and more elegant in style than La Romanée-Conti. La Tâche, also owned entirely by DRC and just across the road from La Romanée-Conti, is earthier and more muscular than its siblings. (Hugh Johnson, Editor and Hubrecht Duijker, Touring in Wine Country: Burgundy)

DRC is one of the largest landholders in Burgundy, having assembled around 62 acres of vineyards over 140 years. The Domaine was formally established in 1942 and is jointly owned by two families, Leroy and de Villaine.

Under the direction of Aubert de Villaine, the estate has worked tirelessly to improve the vineyards so the subtle differences between the historic terroirs are fully and beautifully expressed in the wines. In 1986 DRC became completely organic and more recently biodynamic. In an interview with the Wine Spectator’s Bruce Sanderson de Villaine explained that he was “very sensitive to these ideas because you realise little by little that this is a great terroir [that] had given great wines over the centuries without any other defense or nourishment that what man could do naturally.”.. [Read More]

May 05 2011

Burgundy: It’s All About the Terroir

Posted on May 05, 2011 | By merrill@cellarit.com

But to truly understand the importance of terroir you need to appreciate the essential role it plays in imbuing the wines of Burgundy with their unique and special qualities.

Burgundy is the northern most area in Europe to produce great red wine, and a region associated with some of the finest and most expensive wines in the world. It is also the domain of the small vineyard holder. The average holding is around 6 hectares (15 acres) , and the fragmentation of estates is greatest in the region’s heart,.. [Read More]

Apr 04 2011

Shaw + Smith Shiraz: Refined Elegance in A Bottle

Posted on April 04, 2011 | By merrill@cellarit.com

South Austalia, and especially the Barossa Valley, is typically associated with big, ripe, full-bodied shiraz. Many examples of this style have won critical acclaim from esteemed American critics like Robert Parker, partly because they typified a unique Australian take on the Rhône varietal.

But winemakers are by and large a very creative, innovative bunch who don’t like to be boxed in by stereotypes. While many South Australian wineries are still making fine shiraz in a big, bold style, the trend is definitely towards a more elegant and approachable style… [Read More]

Mar 03 2011

Castagna: True Wines of Place and Passion

Posted on March 03, 2011 | By merrill@cellarit.com

One of the really fun aspects of writing the Cellarit Wine blog is the opportunity to learn about various wine personalities. The wine industry tends to attract people with very interesting backgrounds and skill-sets. This is particularly true of winemakers. I’m often in awe of the best, as they seem to possess a myriad of skills and talents: farmer, artist-winemaker, visionary, marketer, advocate, environmentalist – the list goes on!

Julian Castagna of Castagna Vineyard is certainly one Australian winemaker who is all of these things and more… [Read More]

Dec 12 2010

Martinborough Pinot Noir: All about the Terroir

Posted on December 12, 2010 | By merrill@cellarit.com

In my last post, New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc: Top Producers Create an Exciting Alternative Style, 14 December 2010, I mentioned that our friends served the sublime Cloudy Bay Te Koko Sauvignon Blanc 2004 with a magnificent roasted prawn dish. Well, the follow-up course and wine were equally spectacular. This time they chose another New Zealand wine, the Dry River Pinot Noir 2002, to complement beautifully steamed John Dory with Asian flavourings and lightly sauteed greens.

New Zealand’s success with sauvignon blanc is in danger of being eclipsed by the Kiwi’s formidable achievements in creating superlative wines from one of the world’s most difficult noble grapes: pinot noir… [Read More]

Nov 11 2010

Terroir: What does it mean and how is best expressed?

Posted on November 11, 2010 | By merrill@cellarit.com

On Wednesday, The Sydney Morning Herald/Age inaugural Good Wine Guide’s Winery of the Year was awarded to Henschke, the South Australian winery internationally renowned for its single vineyard Hill of Grace Shiraz. Henschke first produced Hill of Grace in 1958, and the wine is one of Australia’s earliest examples of a single-vineyard wine. Today Hill of Grace has distinguished company in the single-vineyard category. Two thirds of the 94 wines in the Good Food Wine Guide’s highest “three glass”  category are single-vineyard wines. (Singled out for greatness by Helen Pitt,.. [Read More]