Where beautiful wine is produced it is often remarked that one will also find beautiful places. Rivers, lake, oceans and seas feature almost synonymously amongst many of the worlds best wine regions. The river Moselle, the Saône, the Rhône, the Douro, the Gironde, Margaret River, the Loire, Lake Garda and the North Pacific to name a few. These bodies of water are located at the very heart of the worlds most illustrious wine regions. However, they offer much more to our favourite wine than just a picturesque backdrop, they play a fundamental, and oft-overlooked role.
The aromas and flavours associated with particular grape varieties and regional specific wines are more often than not a result of large numbers of compounds, of varying origin, interacting with one another and forming various olfactory and gustatory qualities. There are however a number of compounds (in this case sesquiterpenes) which have an individual aromatic quality associated to them. The distinct aroma of pepper so often associated with cool climate Shiraz/Syrah is the result of one of these sesquiterpenes …
It is commonplace to flaunt a vineyards altitude in plain sight on a bottle of Argentinian Malbec with producers competing to show that they work with the highest-altitude vineyards. So why exactly is Argentinian Malbec grown at such high-altitude?
Exactly what it is which forms the final flavour profile of a wine is complex, multi-faceted and in the most part unknown. Despite this particular dominating aroma or flavour have come to define particular varieties. The petrol aroma in Riesling is one of them. I don’t know why, but I just can’t get enough of it, I’m a petrolhead. But what exactly is it? A fault? A varietal characteristic? Whatever it is, it‘s aroma that divides wine lovers and mystifies the casual wine drinker. This post will explore its origins and discuss in more detail viticultural and climatic factors affecting its presence and concentration.