Jul 14, 2009

terroir: a critical analysis

going through the files, i found a paper from several years back analysing the relationship between subjective wine quality and underlying vineyard physiography (soil type, site exposure, etc). i recently updated it and reworked the figures, though the original dataset appears to have vanished. the physiographic components of a vineyard site are elements commonly associated with the concept of terroir: in various forms, the unique combination of physical characteristics of a vineyard have become associated with quality and thus with price. the french legal system of denominations d'origine contrôlée (DOC) is perhaps the best known of the type, though there are similar systems of spatial classifications in germany, italy, spain, and other traditional winegrowing regions, as well as in the US. if it's not from burgundy, you can't call it burgundy, even if it's pinot noir. in any case, opinions vary about the degree to which terroir is detectable in wine and the strength of the connection between quality and terroir. this paper is a first analysis of terroir in the american context (indicated by AVA, american viticultural area, classification) and its relationship with subjective quality (as measured by robert parker's wine score over a period of several years). flaws aplenty, but a good place to begin conceptually (i hope).


to download the paper, go to its google base page. comments (particularly on the analysis) and suggestions (for additional datasets) welcomed.

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