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TERROIR (roughly pronounced taiR-WAH) is a French word meant to encompass every characteristic of a particular wine vineyard location, including the natural features of geography, geology, topography, solar aspect, and climate, as well as all historical choices of grape varieties (cépage) and rootstocks, as well as traditions and cultural features and practices in vineyard agriculture and wine production.

Among traditional wine devotees, terroir is held entirely and uniquely responsible for wine quality. Terroir is the historical basis for setting wine prices according to supply and demand. Terroir is also the basis for the French system of Appellation Contrôlée.

As science has advanced the understanding and increased mans' abilities to manipulate agriculture and bio-chemistry towards the goal of improved overall wine quality worldwide, the relative uniqueness of individual terroirs has arguably diminished, obsequious adherents of terroir to the contrary.

Terroir-ists Victims of Statutory Grape!
Recently many French wine growers and producers, due to market competition particularly from New World wine brands, have been protesting the strictness of the Appellation Contrôlée laws. For example, it seems that the average wine-drinking consumer is perfectly willing to learn a few dozen grape varieties to assist them in selecting their purchases, but totally unwilling to learn the thousands of French appellations, especially when AC rules prevent most producers from displaying grape varieties on their labels.

Page created August 18, 2013; updated October 4, 2014
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