As you get to know the language of the wine world you very quickly come across the word terroir. Most people quickly realise two points, one, this is significant in winemaking and two, it is a complex combination of facets. Let’s take a closer look at the elements that make up terroir.
There is no exact translation of this French word, which for many years contributed to asserting the superiority of the French wine regions and their wines. Over time the science and understanding of the traditional practice of creating wine has increased exponentially and there is no mystery anymore around terroir.
At its most specific, the focus is on soil, relating to the detailed characteristics from the topsoil through the subsoils and the chemical properties. However, the term is much wider than this, it includes all the locations specific elements such as the aspect of the land, orientation to the sun, and proximity to bodies of water, forests, and mountains that either cool or warm the vineyard. It also speaks to how all these elements interact with the climate, more specifically the macroclimate of the region, to the mesoclimate of the vineyard, and microclimate of each vine. Terroir also includes the viticultural practices used in the vineyard, such as the method of trellising (or not), foliage management and pruning, use of fertilisers and cover crops.
In extreme places understanding the terroir can be the difference between not growing vines below a specific altitude or the precise orientation of a slope being the difference of growing vines or not.
The most significant element that impacts the vine, assuming it is planted in a place it can grow, is the access to nutrients and water. A grapevine is predisposed to grow vigorously when it has an ample supply of these, this means all its energy is put into growing roots and extending its vines and results in berries that are unripe and without character. On the other end of the spectrum, if a vine is deprived of water, it will trigger a dormant stage which also results in unripe berries without character. Ultimately there is a fine line to walk in vineyard management that is specific to each terroir to ensure the full ripening of fruit to create a balanced wine.
In understanding the details of terroir, a winemaker will then decide whether to capitalise on the character to capture an expression of the vineyard or, at an extreme, override the natural effects through viticultural or vinicultural (winemaking) practices to create an expression of a wine.
Paserene’s vines are located in Tulbagh (warm climate), Elgin (cool climate) and Franschhoek (moderate climate) where winemaker, Martin Smith, has specifically selected parcels that capture the best potential of the terroir through the ideal varietals.
The collection comprises individual terroir-expressions and blends that best express single varietals. The individual terroirs are from Tulbagh through the Marathon and Union as well as the Elements Midnight and Rosie, with the Chardonnay capturing the best of Elgin.
With Paserene’s unique scope of terroirs, Martin has handcrafted a harmonious expression of single varietals that leverage the best characteristics of each region. The Emerald is a Sauvignon Blanc two-way blend of Elgin and Franschhoek, the Dark is a Syrah three-way blend of terroirs, and the Bright is a Chardonnay of mostly Franschhoek, supported by Elgin and Tulbagh.
Paserene’s tasting lounge the Nest, located in picturesque Franschhoek, is the ideal location to experience these handcrafted wines where each sip captures a moment in time through the best of these magical terroirs.