WS/Kramer: Worshiping At The Altar Of Varietal Typicity...

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Re: WS/Kramer: Worshiping At The Altar Of Varietal Typicity...

Postby Oliver McCrum » Tue Jun 06, 2006 2:28 pm

Covert wrote:Agree with what you said.

Kramer whorships at the alter of paycheck.


I disagree; I don't always see eye-to-eye with him, but I think he's a standout at that paper. Why are you maligning his motives?
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Re: WS/Kramer: Worshiping At The Altar Of Varietal Typicity...

Postby MikeH » Tue Jun 06, 2006 4:06 pm

Robin Garr wrote:I really don't disagree either, Hoke, and think what we're dealing with here is the very fuzzy definition of terroir.


Part of the reason for a fuzzy definition may be explained by the following from Karen MacNeil in the Wine Bible:

"....terroir. This French word means the total impact of any given site---soil, slope, orientation to the sun, and elevation, plus every nuance of climate including rainfall, wind velocity, frequency of fog, cumulative hours of sunshine, average high temperature, average low temperature, and so forth. There is no single word in English that means quite the same thing." (emphasis mine)
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Re: WS/Kramer: Worshiping At The Altar Of Varietal Typicity...

Postby Hoke » Tue Jun 06, 2006 4:23 pm

MikeH wrote:
Robin Garr wrote:I really don't disagree either, Hoke, and think what we're dealing with here is the very fuzzy definition of terroir.


Part of the reason for a fuzzy definition may be explained by the following from Karen MacNeil in the Wine Bible:

"....terroir. This French word means the total impact of any given site---soil, slope, orientation to the sun, and elevation, plus every nuance of climate including rainfall, wind velocity, frequency of fog, cumulative hours of sunshine, average high temperature, average low temperature, and so forth. There is no single word in English that means quite the same thing." (emphasis mine)


And we know how closely RG hews to the Karen MacNeil catechism, don't we. :D

Actually, I can pretty much agree with Karen's description/definition as quoted, since it pretty much conforms to mine.
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Re: WS/Kramer: Worshiping At The Altar Of Varietal Typicity...

Postby Robin Garr » Tue Jun 06, 2006 4:30 pm

Hoke wrote:And we know how closely RG hews to the Karen MacNeil catechism, don't we. :D


Now, now ... I was being good and just letting that lie.

Actually, I can pretty much agree with Karen's description/definition as quoted, since it pretty much conforms to mine.


Yah, but that's how fuzzy it is. Ask for a broad, general definition of "terroir" as a wine word, and I could probably sign on to that one too. But start focusing on the specifics, and it falls apart. And trying for all it's worth to stick to the very narrow point that brought me into this discussion, it still seems to me that a characteristic attributable primarily to under-ripeness is not best described as "terroir."
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Re: WS/Kramer: Worshiping At The Altar Of Varietal Typicity...

Postby MikeH » Tue Jun 06, 2006 4:36 pm

Robin Garr wrote:And trying for all it's worth to stick to the very narrow point that brought me into this discussion, it still seems to me that a characteristic attributable primarily to under-ripeness is not best described as "terroir."


But.....if all of these climatic and geological components of terroir contribute to chronically underripe grapes, it seems to me that the relationship exists, that there is a cause/effect relationship.

Am I missing something?
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Re: WS/Kramer: Worshiping At The Altar Of Varietal Typicity...

Postby Robin Garr » Tue Jun 06, 2006 5:06 pm

MikeH wrote:But.....if all of these climatic and geological components of terroir contribute to chronically underripe grapes, it seems to me that the relationship exists, that there is a cause/effect relationship.

Am I missing something?


No, Mike, not really. We've all agreed that the definition is "fuzzy," and many here have taken issue with my cheeky assertion that pepper in Syrah is <i>not</i> terroir.

But I'm still defending it, on the basis that if we define terroir so broadly that everything but possibly the wine-makers hand falls under the definition, than it just seems to me that the definition is not worth much. In an ideal world, I would rather limit "terroir" to characteristics that speak most clearly of the soil and of a single, specific place. Chablis chalk, Loire or Grüner Veltliner rocks, Rutherford dust ... these are the most precise definitions of terroir to me, and fruit-related characters like grass and citrus and ... pepper ... don't make me as comfortable with the term. But I'm not pronouncing commandments from the Mount here, just braying my opinions (and, for what it's worth, trying to clarify what *I* mean when I speak, or write, about matters vinous.)
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Re: WS/Kramer: Worshiping At The Altar Of Varietal Typicity...

Postby Hoke » Tue Jun 06, 2006 5:57 pm

We've all agreed that the definition is "fuzzy," and many here have taken issue with my cheeky assertion that pepper in Syrah is not terroir.


Just for the record, I don't disagree at all if you're saying that the pepper in Syrah is not necessarily a varietal characteristic (which is what Kramer was arguing, nezpah?). But terroir, yeah, that could be debated.

Also for the record, what you call fuzzy I could just as easily label as detailed or precise. I think you're being unnecessarily simplistic by demanding that terroir be reduced to a simple one note, as in Chablis:chalk. There's not a single wine I know of that I can reduce easily down to one single characteristic or defining element. Not one.

Heck, even Grand Cru Chablis has several different plots.
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Re: WS/Kramer: Worshiping At The Altar Of Varietal Typicity...

Postby Robin Garr » Tue Jun 06, 2006 6:44 pm

Hoke wrote:Just for the record, I don't disagree at all if you're saying that the pepper in Syrah is not necessarily a varietal characteristic (which is what Kramer was arguing, nezpah?).


This is getting more complicated, not less. Actually, I might accept pepper as a <i>varietal</i> characteristic in Syrah, albeit one that may be muted or enhanced by ripeness at harvest. I just don't like it as a <i>terroir</i> characteristic.

But terroir, yeah, that could be debated.


What's the emoticon for [splutter!] ?

Also for the record, what you call fuzzy I could just as easily label as detailed or precise. I think you're being unnecessarily simplistic by demanding that terroir be reduced to a simple one note, as in Chablis:chalk. There's not a single wine I know of that I can reduce easily down to one single characteristic or defining element. Not one.

Heck, even Grand Cru Chablis has several different plots.


Again, I don't disagree, but you're fixing on my example to declare my argument monochromatic where I painted it in colors. ;-) Restated: The exotic Ms. MacNeil cited 10 variables plus an "Etc." in her definition of terroir, and she could easily have listed more. I'm arguing that soil may be <i>primus inter pares</i> if only because <i>gout de terroir</i> literally <i>means</i> "taste of the soil," and in the admittedly fuzzy mix of elements that makes up terroir, then chalky Chablis or rocky GV ought to stand head and shoulders above the others, because, well, rocks rock, dammit! But I never said - or never meant to say - that it was the <i>only</i> variable.

More in another post ... I just ran into something so curious that it deserves its own post ... nay, another thread.
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Re: WS/Kramer: Worshiping At The Altar Of Varietal Typicity...

Postby Hoke » Tue Jun 06, 2006 7:11 pm

Again, I don't disagree, but you're fixing on my example to declare my argument monochromatic where I painted it in colors. Restated: The exotic Ms. MacNeil cited 10 variables plus an "Etc." in her definition of terroir, and she could easily have listed more. I'm arguing that soil may be primus inter pares if only because gout de terroir literally means "taste of the soil," and in the admittedly fuzzy mix of elements that makes up terroir, then chalky Chablis or rocky GV ought to stand head and shoulders above the others, because, well, rocks rock, dammit! But I never said - or never meant to say - that it was the only variable.

More in another post ... I just ran into something so curious that it deserves its own post ... nay, another thread.


Oh, sure, the old "Wait, I have another call coming in" run around. :)

You are the one that made the example, not me.

Although you get major creds for responding so elegantly (monochromatic, nay, using French and Latin phrases---got any Classic Greek there?---that was well don, sir, well done), I don't see why you have this concern over super-simplifying things and assiduously avoiding complexities.....the subjects of terroir, and for that matter varietal tipicity, are complex. Very complex. With terroir, the more simple you make it the more fuzzy it gets for me; and it seems the more complex interpretation I have is fuzzy to you because it has so many variables. (!?!)

Hey, at heart, this isn't a matter requiring agreement anyhoo, right? It's just personal interpretation. So you need to pare down terroir to mean only one thing at a time; okay I can handle that. :P I can juggle more than one ball at a time successfully (unlike BushCo, I can do nuance). :wink:

It's been fun going back and forth, but we can let this drop if you want, Robin. We've both stated our positions pretty clearly, and it's been fun doing so.
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Re: WS/Kramer: Worshiping At The Altar Of Varietal Typicity...

Postby Robin Garr » Tue Jun 06, 2006 7:16 pm

Hoke wrote:It's been fun going back and forth, but we can let this drop if you want, Robin. We've both stated our positions pretty clearly, and it's been fun doing so.


Oh, I absolutely agree. My knicks remain completely unwadded, and I've enjoyed the discussion. Maybe even learned something.

Go look at the thread I just posted, though. As a fellow Wine Geezer™, I'd be curious to hear your thoughts on it.
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