Where are you heading this summer? Paris? Italy? New Zealand? New York? California? Texas? New Mexico? Canada? The town next to yours? Wherever your summer trips take you, use them to discover great new wines. Destination summer trips give you a great chance to focus on terroir, the grape’s growing environment (location, soil content, climate and slope of the land).
Terroir can make a tremendous difference in the taste of wine. Let’s assume that you are a Chardonnay fan.
If you are in the Chablis region of France, you are likely to taste Chardonnays that are lean and crisp, with a lot of mineral notes. If you are in Oregon, you are likely to find tarter Chardonnays. If you are in Napa, California or the Tuscany region of Italy, you are likely to find buttery, oaky Chardonnays. If you are in Santa Barbara, California, you are likely to find tropical Chardonnays. All of these tastes come from a single grape!
Winemaking techniques also play a big role in the final product. You might discover that you like one particular winery’s Chardonnay in a region but not any of the others. In this case, the terroir isn’t the key determinant of your preferences. It is likely to be the wine-making techniques. Also, the particular Chardonnay clone that was used could be a factor.
If your goal is to hone in on your favorite styles and regions, I recommend keeping a wine journal with you during your summer trips and asking as many questions as you can. Here are a few questions that could be helpful.
- Can you tell me about the environment where the grapes were grown?
- Type of soil?
- Amount of sun?
- Amount of fog?
- Slope of the hill?
- Was it a good growing season?
- Anything else?
- Was the wine oaked?
- What type of oak?
- New oak or neutral oak?
- For fermentation and aging or just for aging?
- For how long?
- Did this wine go through malolactic fermentation?
- Anything else?
- Do you know what Chardonnay clone was used?
As you enjoy your summer trips, please share your experiences here or on my Facebook page, www.facebook.com/winetastingsandmore.
Since we’ve been talking about travel, I want to give a shout out to my travel agent, Lauren Liebert with Ticket to Travel, whom I think the world of. I’ve used her services now for a number of trips, including a Caribbean cruise and a trip to Cancun. Lauren is an expert at what she does and a pleasure to work with. She takes care of all those ugly details that are critical to the enjoyment of a trip and really helps make sure that your vacation is the most pleasurable. Lauren can be reached at 650-906-6000 and www.laurenliebert.com.