Winemaking talk is usually limited to the processes of fermentation and aging, and often one of the most important factors is forgotten: the grape, characterized by the variety, the climate of the vintage, the viticulture practices and of course, the soil where it grows.
All these factors are included in the concept of terroir, a mythical and sensual French word that defines the influence of the soil where the vineyard is located and the distinguishing geological, climatic and human factors.
Thus, the winemaker is defined as the master of ceremonies of this symphony of variables that changes vintage after vintage. His knowledge, his attachment to the region, and his sensitivity, allow him to translate all these particularities in a unique wine.
Generally, the soils in El Bierzo are composed of clay. In the higher grounds, the soil is more evolved, resulting in slate formations. These are soils with high water retention capacity, that regulate the water contribution to the plants of the Mencia variety, and contribute to the mineral characteristic of the wines that adds elegance to a grape of delicate constitution.
Although the soil characteristics are important, and the Bierzo vineyards can be considered among the best in the world, it is very important not to forget the human touch, considering its influence in the treatment of the soil and the plant. It should be remembered that the plant “speaks” and it must be “listened” in order to get honest wines, where the role of the winemaker gets diluted and the terroir takes over with power, something often forgotten, perhaps in pursuit of production or other necessities of ignoble character.
Knowledge of the terroir is a goal that lasts a lifetime full of experiences and feelings, a knowledge that can not be transcribed into a book. In some regions, this knowledge has been inherited from generation to generation since ancestral times.
Post translated from DeBierzo.com ~ Shop & Blog – El Terruño Berciano