Terroir analysis and its complexity

Terroir is not only a geographical site, but it is a more complex concept able to express the “collective knowledge of the interactions” between the environment and the vines mediated through human action and “providing distinctive characteristics” to the final product (OIV 2010). It is often treated and accepted as a “black box”, in which the relationships between wine and its origin have not been clearly explained. Nevertheless, it is well known that terroir expression is strongly dependent on the physical environment, and in particular on the interaction between soil-plant and atmosphere system, which influences the grapevine responses, grapes composition and wine quality. The Terroir studying and mapping are based on viticultural zoning procedures, obtained with different levels of know-how, at different spatial and temporal scales, empiricism and complexity in the description of involved bio-physical processes, and integrating or not the multidisciplinary nature of the terroir. The scientific understanding of the mechanisms ruling both the vineyard variability and the quality of grapes is one of the most important scientific focuses of terroir research. In fact, this know-how is crucial for supporting the analysis of climate change impacts on terroir resilience, identifying new promised lands for viticulture, and driving vineyard management toward a target oenological goal. In this contribution, an overview of the last findings in terroir studies and approaches will be shown with special attention to the terroir resilience analysis to climate change, facing the use and abuse of terroir concept and new technology able to support it and identifying the terroir zones. 

Author: Antonello Bonfante

National Research Council of Italy (CNR), Institute for Mediterranean Agricultural and Forest Systems, ISAFOM, Portici, Italy

Presenting author: antonello.bonfante@cnr.it

Keywords: terroir, viticulture zoning, climate change, soil-plant and atmosphere system, site specific management

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