Technology vs. Terroir

vineyard terroir 2Are technological developments robbing wine of its authenticity? asks Vicki Denig in Wine Searcher.

That depends on what you mean by that troubled word “authenticity.” Is control, intention, and human imagination less authentic than the unpredictability of nature? Well no. Human imagination is authentically human; unpredictability is nature’s calling card. Which do you prefer?

Wine importer Neal Rosenthal wonders “whether this strong control ultimately leads to the most transparent and exciting wines.” It depends on where you find excitement. I’ve had hi-tech wines that are starkly original and wines of terroir that were dull as a Platonic lover. Some of those tech wizards are very comfortable with “let’s try this and see what happens.” Technology isn’t always about control; it’s about experimentation and the serendipity of discovery. Wine technology is no longer solely the domain of large commercial operations. And making wines of terroir can require great ingenuity as well. If you want to stay “hands off,” some vintages will push your ability to adapt in unconventional ways to the very limit.

Technology can help make wines of great precision. Are those wines more authentic expressions of the vineyard? It depends on the vineyard and the vintage. If you want hard and fast rules about such matters, wine is not the place to look.

It’s not necessarily about mouth taste. If you place great value on the unpredictability of nature, that adds a layer of meaning on top of wines of terroir. If you value the ingenuity of human imagination that layer of meaning will settle over wines of technique.

But, if flavor is your summum bonum, staying open to both will cover all the bases.

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