Wine Tasting – Terroir 2014

Don’t Be Afraid of Terroir
A Tasting of Classic Organic French Wines


Friday 15th August
£12 in advance

@The Greenhouse
42-46 Bethel Street
Norwich NR2 1NR

To the uninitiated, French wine can seem a perplexing maze of appellations and regulations, or an onerously esoteric world of right and wrong.
Modern wine drinkers often eschew French classics in favour of New World offerings, where wines are sold by grape variety. And yet, many popular international grape varieties originate from, or at least have prestigious bases in, classic French wine regions.
It would be news to some casual wine drinkers that Sancerre is made from Sauvignon Blanc, or that Chablis is 100% Chardonnay. So why not name the wine after the grape variety?
The answer is terroir. And if that answer seems elliptical, it’s because it has no direct translation – but in essence, it’s the concept that particular geographical areas produce particular, and distinctive, flavours. Due largely to soil type, but also due to other microclimatic factors – the slope of a particular mountainside, or the proximity of a certain river, the distinctive character of a local wind… all these impact the grapes, and influence the wine.
When we talk of terroir, we are talking more about microclimate than about climate, and particularly distiguished tasters (Masters of Wine, of whom there are only some 260 worldwide), can even tell one vineyard from another, particularly in parts of Bordeaux and Burgundy, renowned for the nuances of their terrain.
But of course, you don’t have to master wine to enjoy wine. In fact, you’ll probably enjoy it more if you don’t. You certainly don’t have to be an MW to tell the difference between the terroirs we’ll be exploring on August 15th. The aim is to highlight the diversity and quality of the organic wine available from France.
We will journey to the Loire and try two Sancerres from the same producer, but made from different soil types. ‘Les Cailottes’ translates as ‘little stones’, referring to rubbly limestone-based terrain, whereas ‘Terres Blanches’, translates as ‘white earth’, referring to a more marly soil type. The Daunys, who converted to organic back in the ’60s, eschew the blending of these wines, to celebrate the differences in the terroir.
Sancerre’s soil is based on Kimmeridgean limestone, a geological identity it shares with southern Champagne and Northern Burgundy, from which Chablis hails. And it’s to Chablis we will head, to sample Phillippe Goulley’s version of its classic crisp dry white.
From Chablis we will journey southwest, but still stay in Burgundy, to sample Emmanuel Giboulot’s white Burgundy from the tiny appellation of Cote de Beaune. Though the wine is made predominantly from the same grape variety as Chablis, the terroir is different, and so is the wine.
After all those dry whites, we’ll finish the evening with a wine famed for residual sweetness – a Gewurtztraminer from the Alsace. The Alsace is home to a lot of biodynamic winemakers, and Pierre Frick is one of the better known of the smaller, self-bottling estates. Though Gewurtztraminer has become an international grape variety, the Alsace is its home, where discreet floral aromas and spicy undertones underpin the tropical fruit flavours.
Our tastings are informal, laid-back and sociable affairs, so you can come singly or in groups, with a wealth of experience or with none. Spitoons are available, if somewhat underused, and the terroir may prove more memorable if you eat beforehand.


The evening’s line up:

Sancerre Les Caillottes, Vignoble Dauny 2012
12.5% vol., shop price £14.75
Region: Loire. Grape variety: Sauvignon Blanc

Sancerre Terres Blanches, Vignoble Dauny 2011
12.5% vol., £15.95
Region: Loire. Grape variety: Sauvignon Blanc

Chablis, Domaine Philippe Goulley 2011
12.5%, £15.95
Region: Burgundy. Grape variety: Chardonnay

Bourgogne Blanc, Emmanuel Giboulot 2007
12% vol., £17.25
Region: Burgundy. Grape varieties: Chardonnay & Pinot Gris

Gewurtztraminer, Pierre Frick 2007
14.5%, £17.25
Region: Alsace. Grape variety: Gewurtztraminer

And whilst we’re on the subject…
Look out for a tasting of organic Rhone Valley reds at the Greenhouse on the evening of Friday September 12th…