sábado, 23 de marzo de 2013

Beyond the surface (my definition of terroir)

In the last few days I have been thinking about the terroir or more specifically in the definition of terroir. In many senses is said to be the climate – soil interaction with men included in the system. In many cases only refers to the soil or climate as key factors. The man is relegated and sometimes it is difficult to understand why it is incorporated to this definition.

As time goes by I started thinking that actually the main part of what we call terroir is the man. In Mendoza, where I live and unless some really weird situation (¿Tsunami? The land sinks and disappears. I am exiled), I think I will die here. The man is a fundamental part or the base of existence of any crop; otherwise we would still be a great desert, where life exists only on the banks of natural channels.

The Huarpes, ancient inhabitants of Cuyo, of whom there are pre – Hispanic records and were part of the Incan dominium, they understood that they needed to develop and use direct water efficiently for irrigation, in areas close to the actual city used derivatives performed by them of the channel called Cacique Guaymallen (ditch for Cuyanos). In this way, they manage to grow and survive in these inhospitable places. The water network that they designed is a big part of the hydrologic network that we have nowadays.

On the other hand, the earliest records of vine cultivation are confusing. However we will say that at least in Argentina date from 1556. The priest Juan Cedrón cultivated in Santiago del Estero Moscatel and grapes of the country to use it in the masses. In this way the viticulture was developed until the presidency of Domingo Faustino Sarmiento, where the first European varietal wines were vinified. Surely the Malbec was among them. We speak of the years 1860-1870.

What do I mean with this? Basically when we cultivate a vineyard we produce drastic changes and almost irreversible. When we say, “here we will plant a vineyard”, it includes a lot of events that will change forever that place. First dismantle and eradicate a large number of species as well as move the fauna to other places. We set up for irrigation water networks.

We intervene so much that we change the landscape, plants and animals. Returning to the beginning, how important is man in the definition of terroir in viticulture? I would say 90 percent or more. It is so influential that manages to change the behavior of the vine, originally a creeper, and force it to vegetate six months and sleep the other six.

Todo cambia by Mercedes Sosa on Grooveshark

Thus, when we speak about terroir we actually talk about how a particular culture of man is transforming a landscape, using climatic and soil resources and not backwards. This definition of terroir, I am sure it will be extended in the future when we can be sincere about that wine exists because man exists. And that is the most natural thing about this beverage, used to open the hearts and relieve the sorrows.