I am fairly new to the wine world, and I'm sure this has been addressed before, but is it possible that the reason soil can be so prevalent on the nose or palate of a wine is simply from dust (containing particles of the soil) settling on the skins and later being crushed into the juice? For example, a tractor drives through the rows, or an ox pulls a plow, or whatever, by extension crushing fragments of soil and stirring them into the air. It seems as though there is much debate from a chemistry standpoint with regards to vines lacking the ability to absorb the soil characteristics through their roots, and I thought this could be an extremely obvious explanation.
Please school me:)
every particel ( not talking about Sodium, Potassium, Calcium that can be adsorbed by the roots and eventually give a minerality mark) that get to the skin of grapes precipitate during the fermentation process
Thanks for clarifying!
Can you source this? I've long wondered about limestone in particular, since in an acidic environment it can react and form either carbonic acid (which will precipitate) or calcium carbonate (which is very soluble). I'm assuming that even if calcium carbonate forms, it will eventually react with acids and form carbonic acid, which will then form CO2 and precipitate, but I haven't read this to be the true.
I don't mean to imply that we have a full understanding of where all of the flavors in wine come from, but many—if not most—of the smells we associate with aromatic descriptors like minerality are the result of the complex compounds created by the actions of yeast and bacteria.
Three podcast episodes I would suggest are:
Wine Chemistry - 2018
All About Yeast - 2017
The Problem with Minerality - 2014
Thanks for the reply! I loved those podcasts, and will revisit, though I still thought they left room for my "dust in the must" theory ;) BTW, these podcasts have helped tremendously in making applicable sense out of what was previously for me just book knowledge from the Wine Bible and other sources.
I think I see your point in that the source of the wines is altered from ground to glass so much that even the very fruit it is made from is virtually indiscernible by the time it is ready for consumption?; however, that still leaves me with the question with regards to oak and “toast” and vanilla which seem to be imparted in a very straightforward manner (they contact the wine therefore they are apparent in the wine). If these are transferred to the wine in such a linear fashion, can the dust and particles in the air of a given place not do the same? Let me know if I misunderstood your question. Haha.
Soils don't really have a taste. There is no aromatic soil compound to leach into the wine like there is from an oak barrel. Furthermore, the duration that wine stays in contact with oak is substantially longer than the time dust from the soil would be in contact with the skins/juice. Additionally, settling and racking would remove some of this dust.
Of course there are certain very powerful aromatics that can be acquired from the vineyard, like smoke taint or eucalyptus, but soil is not intensely aromatic.
After responses from many waaaay more versed than I am in this arena, I think I’m just in denial. I’ve latched on to the romance of winemakers saying the soil is evident in the wine, and hearing there is no supportive scientific evidence is kinda like finding out Santa isn’t real. I just don’t want to let it go.
I am with you 100%. I also like the romance of it.
I am also not saying that terroir is not evident in wine, I am just stating that there is not a direct soil to flavor correlation.
Soil is one of the most critical factors in wine quality. The top classified sites in Bordeaux are on gravel mounds close to the drainage rivers; the best Burgundy sites are mid-slope; the best Napa vineyards are often well-drained benches.
Soil structure and its relation to water availability is undeniable in its link to quality. However, while soil is a critical component of wine quality, it just doesn't correspond one-to-one with specific flavors or aromas as far as we know. The compounds that make Chablis smell chalky come from sulphur compounds that are bi-products of fermentation, not from chalk molecules making their way through the vine and into the grapes (calcium carbonate has almost no solubility in water).
If your wine smells earthy, it is likely from the action of a yeast or bacteria, not an inert mineral.