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The Essence of Wine: Wet Stones


Image © 2012 Leigh Beisch

Perhaps you have lingered in a mountain stream, climbed alpine ridge-tops or descended crevasses. Perhaps you have tasted rain on your tongue, or drunk deeply from a stone cistern, echoing with time. Even if you simply revel in petrichor, the smell of pavement just after a cloudburst, or remember washing chalkboards in school, you understand the smell and the taste of wet stone. Some say deep questing roots that probe and fracture rock can transmute the minerals themselves into wine. Science has no easy answers for the relationship between bedrock and berry, but what may elude chemistry is not lost in wine. Pundits argue the meaning of minerality, but what escapes definition may still be tasted. A sip that speaks of deep granitic coolness, or the bright calcified bones of ancient fossils tells a better story than letters and numbers.

Pascal Cotat "Les Monts Damnés" Sancerre, Chavignol, France
François Raveneau Chablis Grand Cru "Les Clos," Burgundy, France
Joh. Jos. Prüm "Wehlener Sonnenuhr" Riesling Spatlese, Mosel, Germany
Dom Perignon, Champagne, France
Chateau de Campuget "Tradition de Campuget" Rosé, Costieres de Nimes, France
Domaine Alain Gras Rouge, Saint Romain, Burgundy, France
Thierry Allemand "Cuvee Reynard" Cornas, France
Achaval-Ferrer "Finca Mirador" Malbec, Medrano, Mendoza, Argentina

This is part of an ongoing series of original images and prose called The Essence of Wine

Comments (4)

02.09.12 at 4:44 PM

Nice little cairn you have there!
Minerals in wine is always interesting, and I think you've done an good job at making the concept accessible to us Newbies. The subtleties of limestone and bone, granite and clay maybe more difficult to pass on, (cisterns and wells work well) but always a curiosity in tasting notes.

nikolai wrote:
02.10.12 at 9:10 AM

Deep and thought provoking. Great stuff Alder!

[email protected] wrote:
02.13.12 at 1:18 AM

The really significant thing in the picture is the water, not the stones. The most definitive study of the appellations of Bordeaux and wine quality across vineyards confirmed only one key element - water and its availability through seasons. The stones were irrelevant beyond their role in drainage and water retention. Sorry, the school is still in session on this minerality issue. It makes no sense scientifically because root systems are unable to take up minerals. So what is it? Some say it just may be the minerals that settle on the bloom or waxy skins of the grape. Has anyone seen any relevant articles on that point. We know it can happen e.g. eucalypt flavours in vineyards near tree stands. But let's be more circumspect on this issue and recognize that many of the belief systems on terroir are finding it hard to stand up to good scientific analysis.

Tyler Thomas wrote:
02.22.12 at 9:46 PM

Not one CA wine? Sad, but I suppose true. I like the series.

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