Thursday, 20 December 2012

Why running makes you appreciate "terroir"...

Aha - a post today that neatly combines running and wine!

Went out for a steady 5 miles last night, nothing too dramatic. It was cool but not as bitingly cold as the previous week. Dressed in long top and bottoms, but no beanie or gloves. As usual, after about 10 minutes the extremities had warmed up and all was well.

After about 20 minutes I took the path by the park, which goes past a row of old farm cottages and an open field, which was shrouded in a very enigmatic mist, rising from the damp ground of the field. And, suddenly, within about 30 yards, the drop in temperature was immediately noticeable. Not having a thermometer with me (not being a critical part of a runner's kitbag!) I couldn't say if it was 1 or 4 degrees. However it was appreciable, and it got me thinking about what this might mean for the world of wine...and 'Terroir'

The word "Terroir" is a peculiarly French word, which encapsulates all of the factors that are special and specific to a piece of land. It is supposed to explain why this field, on one side of a road, is Grand Cru and thus £50 a bottle, and the field on the other side of the road is Premier Cru and thus £20 a bottle. Now, you can get all sniffy about this, and for sure, some of the decisions are based on the politics and loud voices at the time of classification - and yet you cannot deny that certain sites do produce consistently better wines than their neighbours. Just being at the right point on a hill, for instance, means you have the right drainage, the right sun, and just the right amount of breeze, which would not be the case further up or lower down.

Which brings me back to my run, and that cold mist. If my vineyard was in the misty field, my grapes would be wetter, colder, and take longer to warm up when the sun shines than those only 30 yards earlier. And that is a critical success factor for quality wine.

There you are then. "Terroir" is not bunkum after all!

In order to celebrate this discovery, I paired a lovely Alsace Riesling from Josmeyer, under the Wine Society's Exhibition range. Dry, flowery and beautifully balanced.


  1. I drink therefore I work .

    Most enjoyable , looking forward to the next update .

    Polished off a nice glass of StClair and er.....tasted nice ? I'm not savvy pith wine affectionanardo speak .