There was a very interesting article in the RVF last month about minerality. It questions the popular notion that minerality is actually the taste of minerals in the wine and come from deep roots that are in contact with the bedrock from which it extracts the unique minerals therein. To my knowledge, it is the first article in a popular consumer wine journal I have read on this subject.
Those who know me are familiar with my eagerness to blow away romantic notions about wine that have no scientific basis. I feel that makes me a bit of a kill-joy and against trade interests (that I share), as we need to peddle a bit of magic so that wine doesn’t become just a cheap commodity. Yet I am fascinated that people can believe crazy stuff like that and producers can say it with a straight face.
When I started in wine 14 years ago and I was doing my masters in Bordeaux where I met Denis Dubourdieu and his PHD students, I asked them a lot of questions as I tried to figure out the “laws” of wine science, including this very question. They are the main proponents in this article offering an alternative explanation of what minerality really is: a combination of acidity, thiols, CO2, sulphur and other compounds that have no direct correlation with minerals in the soil.
I was unsure of myself back then and I was wondering how customers would react if I ridiculed such a poetic and popular notion; so I published an article about it in our newsletter (copy attached). A couple customers commented: we didn’t have a blog back then so they had to email me responses that I published in the subsequent issue.
At the risk of sounding patronizing, it feels like telling children that Santa Clauz doesn’t really exist. I would hate to be the last schmuck who believes in Santa. I would also hate to know if my girlfriend cheated on me just once. So what kind of truth is this? One we should keep a secret or one that needs to be cried out?