New world responses to old world terroir
Dr Richard Smart
This paper will address the emerging trends for progressive New World vignerons to allow for “terroir”
effects in their production. It is recognized that some New World vignerons disregard the existence of
terroir from a marketing viewpoint. I accept it as real and a factor which can be incorporated into
modern vineyard management.
The first topic to be discussed is that of why is there a difference in New and Old World appreciation
of terroir? Reasons are put forward dealing with property size and inheritance effects, mechanization,
tradition differences etc. The main reason however is to do with use of irrigation in the New World,
since soil properties determining water supply capability to vines are the most important aspect of
terroir. Professor Gerard Seguin’s classical study at Bordeaux reinforcing this viewpoint will be
The modern way in which New World vineyard managers account for soil variation is discussed. The
aim of this work is to reduce variation in fruit composition in any one fruit parcel, which has been
shown to increase wine quality. In turn this variation in fruit composition has been shown related to
soil differences, especially those affecting water supply. Vineyards are soil mapped, and then are
designed so that there is uniform soil on any one block. This facilitates irrigation design, and as well
allocation of rootstocks and varieties.
Finally modern approaches to variety use using homoclimes will be presented. These include computer
matching of climate and so facilitating choice of varieties based on their known performance
elsewhere. Want to know where is a Burgundy look-alike climate in California, Australia or Chile? Or
maybe where in Europe to grow Sauvignon Blanc like that in Marlborough? Alternatively, which
varieties might be best suited to your proposed vineyard site. This approach will tell all. Climate is after
all the over...