If you're a devotee of small producers or high-end wines of any kind, most likely you've heard the phrases "reduced yields," "dry farming," "nutrient-poor soils," "high vine density," and more. These practices are regularly employed by many of the world's best winemakers, and they all have a single goal in common: to stress the vine.
It is now common knowledge (and common practice) that vines pushed to the edge of their tolerance for many environmental factors generally tend to make better wine -- more concentrated, more complex, more tasty.
This is not just supposition, there's actually some science behind it, and I was reminded of this recently by an interesting post on Harold McGee's blog, News for Curious Cooks. Scientists have actually measured higher levels of various flavor and color compounds in grapes from "stressed" vines. Many of the vine stress techniques (not to be confused with "stress positions" used by the US Military during interrogations) described above are associated with sustainable, or organic viticulture.
Harold's post is most interesting, however, because he mentions a recent study in which Syrah vines which received pesticide treatment actually produced even MORE of some desired compounds. The running hypothesis?: pesticides are stressors on the vine too in certain situations.
Introducing The Essence of Wine Book Forlorn Hope: The Remarkable Wines of Matthew Rorick Vinography Unboxed: Week of November 24, 2013 Vinography Images: Down the Row Pinot Days Southern California 2013: December 7, Los Angeles When Should You Not Be Allowed to Be Biodynamic? Vinography Unboxed: Week of November 17, 2013 Vinography Images: Below the Clouds Don't Ask a Dinosaur for Directions California's Current Wine Revolution
Masuizumi Junmai Daiginjo, Toyama Prefecture Wine.Com Gives Retailers (and Consumers) the Finger 1961 Hospices de Beaune Emile Chandesais, Burgundy Wine Over Time The Better Half of My Palate 1999 KirÃ¡lyudvar "Lapis" Tokaji Furmint, Hungary What's Allowed in Your Wine and Winemaking Why Community Tasting Notes Sites Will Fail Appreciating Wine in Context The Soul vs. The Market 1989 Fiorano Botte 48 Semillion,Italy