Thursday, September 29, 2016

Being natural in Montefalco (Umbria): The Wines of Paolo Bea

Paolo Bea remains active in the direction of his namesake business with his son Giuseppe farming the vineyard and the other son -- Giampiero -- assisiting with vinification as well as being responsible for all commmercial aspects of the business. Giampiero is an architect by training and, in addition to his daily activities, is also responsible for the design of the esthetically pleasing structures that rim the courtyard that you enter from the road on your visit to the estate in Montefalco.

Fermentation building and offices, Paolo Bea

Sideways view of portion of fermentation building
The estate farms 13 ha in Montefalco which, given Paolo's aversion to monocultures, supports five vineyards, two olive groves, and plots for a variety of fruits, vegetables, and grains. Of the 13 ha farmed, three are rented. The Montefalco property is planted to Sagrantino (60%) with the remainder supporting Sangiovese and Montepulciano vines. The estate's guiding principles are as follows:
  • Make note of the weather of the seasons to understand the territory and the cycles of nature and avoid every artificial acceleration
  • Limit to a minimum the treatment in the vineyard
  • Trust to nature the transformation of the grapes into wine
  • Avoid whenever possible that the actions of man dominate the will and effects of nature
  • Respect nature, contributing with our work to maintain the equilibrium between flora and faun of the original land
  • Safeguard the taste of the land, avoiding the use of chemicals in the vineyard and cantina
  • Produce sound products for our health.
View of the farm from the fermentation building

Another section of the farm
Harvesting is done by hand in multiple passes. The first pass yields the grapes for the "important" wines while subsequent passes capture the remaining grapes. The grapes are brought directly from the vineyard to the winery where they are destemmed and crushed. The juices, skins, and seeds are then pumped into tanks in the floor below the receiving level (The estate refers to this as gravity flow but the use of the pump is disqualifying as regards that particular nomenclature.). Vineyard blocks are managed separately throughout the vinification process.

Wines are fermented using natural yeasts and cap management is effected via punchdown. Red wines are fermented and macerated for approximately 50 days while whites are fermented on the skins for a total of 30 days. All fermentation and maceration occurs in stainless steel tanks.

Red wines are passed through a vertical press with the free-run and pressed juices blended immediately. The red wines are aged in stainless steel tanks for one year after which they are transferred for an additional two-years of aging in 30-, 25- and 20-hl oaken barrels. These wines are then bottled and aged for an additional two to four years.

The white and Passito wines are kept in stainless steel for 18 months and in bottle for 1 year.

The grapes for the Passito wine are selected from "less-tight" bunches and are the first grapes selected form the harvest. If there is rain, no Passito wine will be made because of the risk of mold. The skin of the Sagrantino grape is very thick and will succumb to slicing under normal conditions. When it can be cut like a Ricotta cheese, the Passito grape is ready to be crushed.

Tour of the Passito room
After our tour of the fermentation room we were headed to the tasting room when we ran into Paolo Bea himself.

Author, Parlo, and Paolo Bea
As we stepped into the tasting room, we saw an impressive array of bottles, each one containing a Paolo Bea signature wine. In the center of the room, places were set for the tasters along with extensive documentation covering the wines we were about to taste.

Giampiero leading us through the tasting
The first wine tasted was the 2011 Arboreus. The Trebbiano Spoletino vines are more than 100 years old and each plant can produce between 40 and 60 kilo of grapes. The vines are in excess of 3 m tall and grow around trees, eventually killing them. The wine spent 22 days on the skins during fermentation. The wine had an orange color and and orange peel on the nose along with a savory, nutty, asparagus character. Spicy and bright on the palate. A lovely wine.

The second wine was the 2009 Sanvalentino Umbria Rosso IGT and is made from second-passage grapes from all vineyards. In 2009 it was a blend of Sangiovese (60%), Sagrantino (30%), and Montepulciano (10%). This wine spent 32 months in oak. On the nose, sweet herbs, baking spices, and a savoriness. On the palate, sweet red fruit and power with biting acidity. Full-bodied. Mouth-coating tannins. Lengthy finish

The 2008 Pipparello Montefalco DOC Rosso Riserva is a blend of Sangiovese (60%), Montepulciano (25%), and Sagrantino (15%). This wine spent 10 months in stainless steel tanks and 33 months in 25 hl slavonian oak barrels. High-toned, focused, concentrated dark fruit with spice. Huge wine on the palate. Concentrated. Savory with tar and mint notes.

The 2008 Rosso de Vèo Umbria Rosso IGT exhibited red fruits, tar, and a little bit of stewed fruit on the nose. On the palate it showed as relatively simple and lacking in concentration. Giampiero was not satisfied with this wine and opened a second bottle. This second bottle was far more expressive on the nose and showed a lot more concentration. Anise, licorice, tar, and black fruits. Balanced.

We next tasted the 2008 Pagliaro. This is the estate's flagship wine, a 100% Sagrantino that was macerated for 38 days after which it spent 10 months in stainless steel and 33 months in large oak barrels. The vines from which the grapes for this wine are sourced are between 35 and 45 years old. Spice, anise, licorice, tar, and jammy sweet fruit on the nose. Dense and fleshy on the palate with expressive tannins.

The final wine tasted was a new entrant onto the market, the 2007 Cerrete Montefalco Sagrantino DOCG. The vines for this wine are planted in a 3-ha vineyard at the highest point of the Sagrantino area. Total production is 4000 bottles. This wine was produced in 2007 for the first time and was not produced in 2008. Grapes from the vineyard that were not used in this wine in 2007 were used in the Rosso de Vèo wine. Sweet, concentrated, dark fruit along with licorice and tar.  Delivers fully on the palate. This is a beautiful wine. I was so impressed that I bought a six-pack on site.

I buy Pagliaro and Pipparello for my cellar every year. With my fuller understanding of the estate, and a better appreciation of the range of wines, I expect that my list of labels procured annually will expand going forward.

©Wine -- Mise en abyme

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

The Montefalco wine region of Umbria, Italy

Paolo Bea and his wines are legendary. The estate has been growing grapes in the same location since the 15th century and the current proprietor (Rosenthal):
  • Is one of Italy's most passionate natural winemakers
  • Is a founding member of vini veri, a group dedicated to non-interventionist winemaking
  • Has an unshakeable commitment to terroir and "old-fashioned" techniques
  • Is passionate about preserving the unique personality of the region
So it was with great anticipation that we headed out from our Terre Margaritelli visit in Torgiano to Montefalco to its southeast. The drive was pleasant, especially as we passed through the villages leading up to Montefalco and Montefalco proper. The video below serves as an example.

Before describing our visit to Paolo Bea, a word about the region within which its wines are produced. The map below shows the location of the DOC region (granted in 1979 and covering parts of the municipalities of Bevagna, Giano dell'Umbria, Gualdo Cattaneo, Castel Ritaldi, and all of the municipality of Montefalco) and the DOCG region (granted in 1992 and with similar distribution as the DOC region). The DOC and DOCG regions are shown in the heart of the map, within the broader Colli Martani region.


The area has a continental climate with average annual rainfall of 700 mm. The gently sloping hills that are a feature of the growing area support vineyards at elevations ranging between 220 m and 472 m a.s.l. Aspects are varied, resulting in a range of micro-climates.

The DOC wines are a Blanco (Grechetto -- min 50%; Trebbiano Toscano -- 20 - 35%; and Trebbiano Spoletino -- 0 - 30%) and a Rosso (Sagrantino -- 10 - 15%; Sangiovese -- 60 - 70%; and other red grapes -- 15 - 30%).The DOCG wines are made from 100% Sagrantino grapes  and can be either dry or Passito. The grapes for these wines have a limited production and are characterized by small bunches, thick skins, and high polyphenol content.

The characteristics of the grape allows for partial drying (as in the case of the passito wine) and long aging. In the case of the passito wine, the grapes are carefully selected and left out to dry for approximately two months after which they are pressed and the must fermented with the skins.

As regards the DOCG wines, yields for the dry wine are 52 hl/ha and 28 hl/ha for the passito. Both wines must be aged for a minimum of 33 months, with a further requirement of minimum 4 months bottle aging. The dry wine must be resident in oak for a minimum of 12 months. The DOC wine requires 12 months aging.

I will describe the Paolo Bea visit and tasting in a follow-up post.

©Wine -- Mise en abyme

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Visit to Terre Margaritelli, Torgiano, Umbria

Friday was a "You Day" on our Art in Voyage tour of Umbria and surrounds. A number of our colleagues had opted to go horseback riding followed by a wine tasting and lunch at Terre Margaritelli in Torgiano. I wanted to go visit Paolo Bea and arranged with Jennifer McIlvaine ( to crash the wine tasting and lunch after which we would go on to Paolo Bea. This post reports on our visit to Terre Margaritelli.

The Margaritelli Group is a leading wood-products manufacturer with a focus on indoor and outdoor materials as well as materials for railway superstructures. In the post-WWII period the company was best known for the manufacture of wooden railroad ties. When concrete ties began to increase its market share -- to the detriment of wooden ties -- Fernando Margaritelli turned the business over to his son asking only for a tractor and a plot of land so that he could grow grapes and make wine for the family.This is the origin story of the precursor to the 60-ha estate that is today's Terre Margaritelli.

According to Federico Bibi (Estate Manager), Fernando died in the 1980s and, while the property was maintained in good order, winemaking ceased. In 2000, Guiseppe Margaritelli decided to revive Fernando's passion so he enlarged the existing property and began planting vines. In 2004 the decision was made to push beyond selling the entire grape production and to begin producing a small amount of wine. Federico hd been advising the estate along the way and in 2008 they asked him to come on board to manage the project on a full-time basis.

Federico Bibi in the Terre Margaritelli Vineyard
The estate is located in Miralduolo in the commune of Torgiano, a region accorded DOC status for its wines in 1968 and DOCG status for its Rosso Riserva in 1990. The Torgiano appellations are shown as the orange-colored blotch in the heart of the map below.

The growing area is 60 ha in size with the largest of its two plots measuring 52 ha. The plots rest on clay soils at elevations ranging between 200 and 250 m. The vines range between 9 and 16 years old and are planted at 4000-5000 vines/ha. The primary white varieties are Trebbiano and Grechetto and the reds Sangiovese and Canaiolo but varieties such as Viognier, Fiano, Chardonnay, Malbec, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, and Cabernet Sauvignon can also be found on the estate. In all, a total of 15 different varieties are planted in the vineyard.

The estate's overarching philosophy is one of sustainability and this permeates every aspect of its grape-growing and winemaking activities. The vineyards are certified organic, rendering the estate the largest organic producer in Umbria.

No pesticides are used in the vineyard even though conditions are rainy and the vines are susceptible to downy mildew. In some cases the vines are sprayed with organic preparations. Natural fertilizers are employed to meet any nutrient deficiencies. First, the inter-row spaces are planted alternately to beans/grains and grass. Beans are a well-known nitrogen fixer while grains are rich in organic nutrients. The inter-row residents have shallow root systems so they compete with the vines for near-surface resources, forcing the vines to dig deeper in the hunt for water and nutrients. This stress results in higher-quality fruit.

Grape harvesting at the estate can be done by hand or machine with the final choice determined by the quality of the grapes and weather conditions. If rain is in the offing, for example, and the grapes need to be harvested on that day, they will most likely be machine-picked.

Each variety is assigned to its own block in the vineyard, with each block harvested and vinified separately. There is no selection in the case of machine- harvesting -- as far as I can see -- as the harvested grapes are dumped directly into the destemmer before being pumped into the Press. Fermentation is facilitated by selected yeasts.

Wood is very important to Margaritelli as a group so they wanted to ensure that they were using products that would accrue the benefits of oak-aging without compromising the qualities of the fruit. Towards that end they partneerd with the Wine Institute to determine the impact of different oak forests on wine. They bought oak from 20 different forests while the Institute bought wines from a single producer. Those wines were aged in the different barrels and it was determined that there were major differences between the wines after one year of aging.

Coming out of this experiment, Terre Margaritelli determined that French white oak from the Bertrange forest best met its requirements. Their barrel-maker of choice is Toutant.

After completing our tour of the vineyard and cellar, we went back into the offices for a light lunch and a tasting of selected Terre Margaritelli wines. The lunch was prepared by Jennifer and was stunning. Not a piece of meat in sight for the main courses but freshness and complexity ruled the day.

The first wine tasted was a 2015 Costellato, a Bianco di Torgiano DOC which is a blend of Trebbiano (50%), Fiano (20%), Chardonnay (15%), and Viognier (15%). According to Federico, the Trebbiano contributed freshness, drinkability, acidity, and citrus to the blend while the Fiano contributed perfume and acidity. The Chardonnay was harvested early so that it could contribute complexity and freshness. The Viognier contributed herbal notes. The wine was aged two months in stainless steel and two months in bottle.

Citrus, freshness, melon, salinity, freshness, and a clayey minerality. An Assyrtiko without the sharpness. I liked this wine.

The 2015 Greco di Renabianca is a 100% Grechetto which is labeled Umbria Bianco IGT. This wine is named after a 12th century soldier, recalling the myriad battles between towns that took place in the flat lands below the estate. Aged 2- 3 months in barrique and 1 year in bottle. This wine brought to mind sweet hazelnuts, eucalyptus and white fruits. Lime, spice and a rusticity on the palate. Powerful.

The 2013 Mirantico is a Rosso di Torgiano DOC and is a blend of Sangiovese (50%), Canaiolo (20%), and Malbec (30%). This wine is aged 6 months in barriques and 1 year in bottle. Light in color but powerful. Florality, spice, red fruits with an elegant palate entrance. Light on its feet with nice, long, berry finish.

The final wine was the 2012 Freccia Degli Scacchi, the Torgiano Rosso Riserva DOCG. This was 100% Sangiovese aged 24 months in barrique and 24 months in bottle. Cherries, blackpepper, roses. Powerful on the palate with spice and tannin evident. This wine did not engage my palate to the extent that I expected it to.

This was time well spent. Federico and his team have excellent product but they also have a story to tell; and do an excellent job of telling it.

Now on to Paolo Bea.

©Wine -- Mise en abyme

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

The "personalization" -- and demise -- of the concept of terroir in 17th-Century France

The concept of terroir transited the 16th-17th century divide on the back of Olivier de Serres 1601 book Le Theatre d'Agriculture and its received wisdoms of the primacy of nature and man working within its confines (holistic farming).

Olivier de Serres 
During this period the concept of terroir accrued mostly positive or neutral connotations. Terroir did not leave the 17th century with the same standing with which it had arrived. Let us first trace the evolution of the definition of terroir during the subject century and then ennumerate the forces which led to its decline. As was the case for my post on terroir in the 16th century, this effort draws heavily on Thomas Parker's Tasting Terroir: The History of an Idea.

Before we examine the 17th-century defnitions of terroir, I would like to place the concept into its modern framework so that the reader has a reference point for comparison purposes. Fraser sees the concept being primarily used today among "culinary enthusiasts" to map a food or wine to its specific place of origin. The taste of terroir (goût de terroir) is "the spectrum of appreciable flavors or fragrances created by the unique physiographic constitutionof the plot of land where a given product was grown and produced."

Now let us look at 17th-century definitions (Parker):
  • Nicot's Thrésor de la langue francaise (1606) -- identifies terroir as any specific municipal plot, soil, or land appropriate for one agricultural crop or another.
  • Furtière's Dictionnaire universal (1690) -- land considered according to its nature and qualities, and with respect to agriculture. Continuing on with the definition, however, Furtière switches from terroir as a determinant of planting decisions to terroir as a flavor component and introduces a decidedly negative note into the frame: "One says that a wine has a taste of terroir when it has some disagreeable quality that comes to it from the nature of the terroir where the vine is planted."
  • Charles Pajot's French-Latin dictionary (1694) translated goût de terroir as virus terrenum, meaning "poison or stench of the earth."
  • Furtière's 1701 edition stipulates that terroir "is also used figuratively for a bad habit acquired in one's place of birth. The people from,the provinces cannot rid themselves of a particular vice from the terroir strongly opposed to politeness ... One says that a man smells of the terroir in order to say that he has the deficits one ordinarily attributes to people of his land."
As can be seen in the definitions above, terroir had made its way from being specifically about land -- and being non-contentious -- to being highly personalized and having a decidedly negative bent. How did terroir transform from innocuous to Hillbilly?

According to Parker, the transformation has its roots in the formation of the Academie Francaise in 1635. The goal of this body was identification of, and adherence to, a pure cosmopolitan tongue and, given the nature of Parisian society, that language was associated with the Parisian set; to the detriment of the provinces. So, the people who were most associated with terroir could only contribute polluting elements to the new language.

The search for purity dictated that language impurities be excised. And this was not only restricted to language. According to Parker, "the desire for a pure cosmopolitan tongue ... spread from, speech to taste, affecting trends in cuisine as segments of the population attempted to lose whatever regional patina they themselves might have by pointedly seeking pure and natural foods" (Some of these taste pursuits are pointed out in my post on the lead-up to the Burgundy-Champagne battle which originated in this timeframe.). Terroir was used in this period to indicate adulteration and disorder and its notion as the "scourge of the country bumpkin" was repeatedly reaffirmed during the second half of the century (Parker).

Terroir also suffered as a result of changing agricultural mores in the later 17th century. In de Serres Theatre d'Agriculture, agriculture and terroir were primary. And the agricultural zones, and their inhabitants, were well regarded. A sea change was afoot, however, with the English Garden, a "structure" that could be deployed in "pure" Paris, gaining primacy. And with the rise of the garden, the sense of working within the bounds of nature "withered on the vine."  A garden was not dependent on terroir. The appropriate environment could be created  -- despite nature -- to support the garden's requirements. Design and esthetic became the order of the day with Versailles becoming the quintessential example where one of the world's most beautiful gardens was created in a previously undesirable terroir.

According to Parker,
Rather than allowing for diversity in soil, La Quintinie (Louis XIV's chief gardener) sought out terroir that was perfectly neutral, resembling what he qualified to be good water. Thus, forty years after the first attempts to purify the French language of terroir in Vaugelas, and in the years following Dominique Bouchour's asessment that the best language should be as pure and neutral as water, the same esthetic appeared in the French garden. In each of these iterations, the bodily influence of the earth was seen as a corruption that blemished the immaculacy, essence, and expression of nature's best fruits and vegetables.
At the end of the 17th century then, terroir was a "crass and unruly manifestation of nature in humans and in plants, one that nature was meant to refine, if not altogether expunge."

©Wine -- Mise en abyme

Thursday, September 8, 2016

Carmine Estate and its wines

The Carmine Estate is a 125-ha property located in the shadow of Monte Tezio in a valley 1 km outside the small village of La Bruna. The valley was recently bought by the current owner and rehabilitated from the disrepair into which it had fallen post its abandonment 50 years ago in the farm-to-city exodus experienced by the area.

The valley is blocked from most weather systems by surrounding hills but still manages to accumulate between 950 and 1100 mm of rain annually. This much water results in significant downy mildew problems, a situation that is not simplified by the estate's adherence to organic farming principles. According to David Lang, Estate Manager, "copious amounts" of copper sulfate is sprayed on the plants but they are still subject to substantive crop loss. For example, the basic red contained 8% Sagrantino in 2013 and none in 2014, the latter a direct result of lower Sagrantino production in 2014.

Of the 125 ha, 5.7 ha have been planted to vine. A significant amount of prep work had to be done before the actual vines were planted. Heavy machinery had to be brought in to pull up the old vines and to remove the boulders and the large oak trees that had sprung up in the vineyards since their abandonment. The old pipes leading from the dam to La Bruna were asbestos-lined and so had to be dug up and replaced, while the dam itself had to be refurbished (with mechanisms employed to preserve the fish living in its waters).

The initial planting was 15,000 vines and, while the plan is to avoid irrigating mature vines, newly planted vines need water. This was done manually, a tedious, tiring, time-consuming process. In keeping with its organic philosophy, no fertilizers or pesticides are utilized in the vineyard. The varieties planted are Trebbiano Spoletino (1.7 ha), Merlot, Sangiovese, and Sagrantino. The estate utilizes the services of an external viticultural consultant for advice in counsel in vineyard decisions.

David Long, the aforementioned Estate Manager, brought over a few bottles of the estate's wines for us to taste. The overriding sense that I got was a lack of concentration, attributable, most likely, to the relative youth of the vines. The role of the significant amount of rainfall that the area receives should not be discounted however.

The 2015 Trebbiano was fermented in stainless steel and is characterized primarily by its acidity. This wine would benefit from proximity to food. Light-bodied with a medium finish.

The 2013 Vino della Chiesa is a  blend of 55% Sangiovese, 35% Merlot, and 10% Sagrantino. This wine was stainless-steel fermented and aged in 250 and 500 L oak barrels. A light, red fruit nose with some bramble characteristics and a slight pungency. Tannic sour fruit on the palate accompanying a spiciness. Bitter finish. Light-bodied and non-complex. The 2104 version of this wine was a 55%/45% Sangiovese-Merlot blend and showed more dark fruit and savoriness and less tannin and acid than the 2013. Slightly vegetal.

The final wine was the 2014 Il Campanile, a blend of Sangiovese (74%), Sagrantino (18%), and Merlot (8%). This wine was aged in French barriques. It is softer in style than the preceding two reds and exhibits a little more complexity. This wine will also benefit from increasing vine age.

©Wine -- Mise en abyme

Thursday, September 1, 2016

Terroir as a concept in 16th-century France

In his sweeping treatment of ancient versus modern wines (Inventing Wine), Paul Lukacs identifies the seminal terroir events in France as the demarcation of the Burgundy vineyards by the Cistercian monks beginning in 1098 and the AOC system implemented in the early 20th century. But this apparent terroir desert misses the true formative period -- as well as the ups and downs -- of this concept, beginning during the Renaissance and continuing for two centuries thereafter. A period and history that is detailed in Thomas Parker's Tasting Terroir: The History of an Idea. I summarize Parker's history in a number of posts beginning herein with terroir in the 16th century.

According to Lukacs, the wine drunk during the Middle Ages was "ancient"; that is, it was either oxodized, sour, and additive-filled or a dried-grape sweet wine. And consumption was not based on sensorial characteristics. Rather, wine was drunk for spiritual communion, water purification, bodily nourishment, or social status. Thus there was no culture of wine drinking within which a concept of terroir would gain traction.

In France, creation of such a culture fell to the literary set with the works of Rabelais, the poets of the Pléiade, and Jacques Gohory leading the way. In the first two cases, the god Bacchus was the protagonist. According to Parker:
In the pages of Rabelais, Bacchus is a force not only of inebriation and folly, but also of conviviality, universality, and great wisdom. In the group of sixteenth century Renaissance poets known as the Pléiade, Bacchus often connotes enjoying friendship and maximizing the pleasure of daily life. But there is another element at play ... Bacchus appears in a naturalistic register of farming and place-specific wines, deployed not to celebrate culinary culture in itself, but to create linguistic identity and foster poetic inspiration. Instead of standing for a force of inebriation, he represents lucidity; instead of defining terroir in negative terms, he circumscribes it positively in a discourse on place and the origin of language.
Jacques Gohory's 1549 publication Dissertation on the Vine, Wine, and Harvest was the first technical book on wine written in the French language. According to Parker, the work was "a mix between a practical manual of viticulture and winemaking, an apology for wine itself, and a joyous fictional foray of consumption." Gohory's work normalized wine, provided pragmatic information in a place-specific optic, bolstered wine's reputation by appealing to its scientific and philosophical underpinnings, and provided the linguistic tools and specialized vocabulary in French that would be needed to understand working vines and making wines (Parker).

The "medical science" community also contributed to the concept of terroir during its formative years. Charles Etienne, a physician, wrote a Latin text in 1554 (translated into French a decade later as L'Agriculture et la maison rustique) which laid out in great detail wines from the various regions of France and other European countries with comments on their individual longevity, force of character, and potential impact on health. Etienne claimed that terroir affected taste, with lighter wines coming from Paris and its surrounds (the best wines and well suited to urbanites, the studious, and persons living sedentary lives) while wines from warmer climes "burnt the entrails and encumbered the mind."

Jean Bruyérin-Champier, physician to Francois I, wrote a Latin text called De Ri Cibaria in 1560 wherein he detailed categories of food, their history, and the sources of best production. He posited that France's wines were the most agreeable and healthful because of its soils. Julien Le Paulmier, also a physician, had his Treatise on Wine and Cider translated from Latin in 1589. This book, according to Parker, provided a "nuanced depiction of terroir" in a wine- and cider-specific text rather than in a broader agricultural context. Le Paulmier identified terroir as "one of the governing forces of a wine's merit or defects in flavor and constitution" and held that a good gourmet should be able to discern the qualities and defects of a wine or cider, its terroir of origin, and its age. He also held the belief that the taste of terroir was itself a defect because earth or minerals (its characteristics) were "dirty, unpleasantly earthy, or lacking in elegance."

The most full-throated exposition of terroir in that period was contained in the 1600 publication of Olivier de Serres titled The Agricultural Theater and the Management of Fields. This seminal agricultural manual had terroir front and center with 87 distinct mentions (Parker). De Serres held that "the climate and terroir (note that these are two distinct elements to him) provide wine with its taste and force in accordance with their properties so that it is completely impossible to account for the diversity of wine by the species of grape." De Serres viewed the knowledge of terroir as an essential element in planting decisions rather than as a sensorial pursuit.

Published in the first year of the 17th century, De Serres' work would have necessarily drawn on the works that preceded it. According to Parker, its view of terroir was both modern and early modern.
... modern because the French recognized that physiographic aspects of the land had an effect on flavors and because there was a nationalistic and nostalgic relationship between people and specific places as illustrated through agricultural production. Early modern in the sense that, as far as food was concerned, terroir was most often used in the technical context of deciding where to grow particular crops than in the context of culinary appreciation.

©Wine -- Mise en abyme