What Lies Beneath: The Key to Great Wine

By Tom Marquardt and Patrick Darr

Chantal Forthun, winemaker at Flowers Vineyard and Winery, was standing alongside a row of vines and over a six-foot hole when she had what she called a “light-bulb moment.” Standing with a pickaxe in the pit was Pedro Parra, a revered dirt doctor who consults with winemakers around the world. A Chilean by birth, Parra believes that you cannot make good wine without knowing what lies deep beneath a vineyard’s surface.

Terroir is regarded as a major influencer in a wine’s profile whether it be the limestone in Champagne or the gravel in the Left Bank. Sandy soils can leave wine with less acidity and tannin. Clay soils, on the other hand, yield wines with more body, tannin and fruit extraction.

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