As you swirl the wine in your glass, do you notice how quickly the droplets run down the side and back to the centre? Deeply inhale the aroma, is it sweet, buttery acidic, oaky, well balanced? Sip and savour the flavour as it passes over your tongue triggering various receptors in your brain and body.
Wine flavour is complex, what happens in the vineyard affects the flavour of the grapes before the winemaker begins their craft. Not surprisingly, the same wine can taste different from year to year, due to environmental impacts on the grapes. Precipitation, soil, bedrock, region and local climate, elevation, topography, slope, even vine placement in relation to the sun all affect grape production and quality. These factors also referred to as the terroir, give character to the wine.
Not surprisingly, there is debate related to the impact of subsurface soil and bedrock on grape flavour and overall wine quality. For example, limestone pockets are found in the Yarra Valley subsurface. Limestone, which is composed of calcium carbonate, once broken down, provides several benefits to grapevines. It breaks down slowly, nourishing the deep roots as a continual fertiliser for areas well below the surface soil. These minerals allow for water retention, a healthier vine plus additional beneficial nutrients to create vines better at fighting off disease; improving overall grape and wine quality. Limestone is also considered to be a contributing factor to “A-list” wines such as Champagne or Burgundy from France.
The entirety of the Yarra Valley is not underlain with limestone, but perhaps its presence is a contributing factor to the world-class wines produced there. The term terroir concerns a crop’s environment; however, the term minerality has started creeping into wine lingo to correlate the wine taste with regional soil components. Unfortunately, the word is not formally defined or accepted. Also, wine tasting is not an exact science, which adds to the complexity.
While the Yarra Valley does not have a signature style, area wineries are known for producing high quality Chardonnay, Sparkling Wine, and Pinot Noir. Chardonnay and Pinot Noir comprise 60% of total production in the area. The region is known for presenting a more acid driven Chardonnay than the traditional deep and oaky flavoured Chardonnay. Pinot Noir is the most sought-after wine from the Yarra Valley. The cool climate (which provides the excellent Chardonnay and Pinot Noir grapes) is versatile allowing winemakers the freedom to experiment with other well-suited regional grapes. Many vineyards on our Yarra Valley Wine Tours are family-owned and have a unique and boutique style charm, offering wine tasting classes and tours.
The minerality may be a “hot button issue” in the wine community; however, the various schools of thought provide for interesting conversation. Join new and old friends for one of our relaxing winery tours in the Yarra Valley exploring the scenic Warburton Rail Trail along the Yarra River. Discover the surprising terroir for yourself and be your own judge on the picturesque Yarra Valley’s influence on wine flavour.
Does the rock beneath the grapevine indeed affect the wine acidity, taste, and quality? Join VineTours and taste for yourself while enjoying wine tasting tours in the Yarra Valley.