Wijn is niet alleen het ras of de hand van de wijnmaker. De bodem bepaalt voornamelijk hoe hij in het glas komt. Daar wordt te weinig aandacht aan besteed. In gepolijste PR-verhalen over wijnkwaliteit zelfs helemaal niet. Nu de klimaatgrillen elkaar steeds heftiger en onverwachter afwisselen, wordt het tijd dat de bodem nadrukkelijker bij wijndiscussies wordt betrokken, vindt wijnexpert Diego Tomasi. Meininger tekende op:
“These days, you can’t say hot, cool, wet or dry vintage any longer. Weather has become totally unpredictable, with extremes even within one growing season.” Says Diego Tomasi, director of the Centro di Ricerca per la Viticoltura e Enologia di Conegliano (CRA-VIT) in Italy. “Soils are quickly becoming the most significant factor that defines terroir and wine quality.”
Tomasi’s presentation in Montepulciano was one in a series of technical lectures by researchers in the fields of viticulture and soil management during Enovitis in Campo 2019, the largest viticultural equipment fair in Europe. Grape varieties, after all, are shared around the globe. Winemaking techniques, too, are universal. Yearly weather is shared by growers, at least at the macro and meso level. So what defines a wine? The answer lies in the dirt. Wine is the soil. Most winery communications, including technical sheets (which are read almost exclusively by trade) are woefully inadequate for the level of education and understanding of today’s competent wine professionals. More serious information, a story based on something real rather than marketing spin, stands a better chance of raising the interest of buyers, who in turn sell on with more enthusiasm to consumer clients.
And even consumer interest in soils and their influence on wine shouldn’t be underestimated. Highly engaged drinkers are already aware of a soil-wine connection, so explaining a wine style (house, regional) in terms of soil type, avoiding technical jargon, is not an unreasonable stretch. Soils are potentially the most powerful starting point of differentiation of any wine and should be a more central part of the communication strategy of premium estates. Yet producers, regional associations and PR companies are missing this opportunity to truly highlight the uniqueness of their products. It’s invariably said, but rarely backed by anything concrete. There is still much work to be done, both on the technical and commercial sides, on understanding the impact of soils and how to explain it.
Diego Tomasi finished his presentation at Enovitis with the bold statement that improving soil-vine root interactions is the only way to progress wine quality. Weather will continue to unfold unpredictably and ever-more unreliably, challenging the very notion of climate. But producers, and communicators, can take refuge in the relative stability of soils, and get to know them better.