Arro Restaurant

First Blind Tasting Experience

My Texas life is going well, and I am learning a lot from my Internship with Keeper Collection. On Tuesday, the 19th of May, I participated in a blind tasting for the first time. This one was very special indeed. It was a blind tasting dedicated to learning about Terroir. This tasting took place at Arro Restaurant in Austin and the presentation was made by Pedro Parra.

Charcuterie at Arro Restuarant

Pedro Parra is from Chile, and he is a wine consultant that specializes in soils, geology, viticulture and oenology. He studied agronomy and soils in the University of Montpellier in France to obtain a Master’s degree. After, he graduated with a PhD from Institut National Agronomique de Paris, his began working with clients in Chile, Argentina, Italy, Sonoma, Uruguay, Armenia and Burgundy. His works are mainly focus on the understanding of the relationship between WINE and TERROIR.

During this tasting, Pedro Parra explained to us the different soils that exist, as well as their characteristics. He referred to two ways of winegrowing: Geology and Geomorphology.

Geology on Terroir

Pedro explained to us that Geology is the method that we can find in Burgundy or Piedmont. It means that vineyards are present for many years, centuries, and millenniums. He said that Geomorphology is present in Pomerol, Crozes Hermitage, Médoc, Chateauneuf du Pape and Napa Valley. Geomorphology means that the vineyards are not present for centuries but were created by different events like erosion, work of humans, etc.

Five soils

There are five main types of soils which he listed as Limestone, Granites, Schist, Complex Gravels, and Basalt. Pedro gave us a brief lesson on each soil.

First of all, Limestone is a kind of soil that we see in Burgundy, Piedmont, Loire, Saint-Emilion, Chianti, Rioja, Vacqueras and Gigondas. Generally, the rock is sedimentary. This soil is heterogeneous with horizontal fractures. There are a lot of Limestone soils, not only one. For example, when tasting a wine produced on Limestone soil, the result is often a dry sensation on the mid-palate with a very short sensation.

Granites Terroir Pedro Parra.jpg

Granite soils are present in Saint-Joseph, Morgon, Hermitage, Cornas and Alsace. Granites are an intrusive rock. Like the limestone, there are many kind of granites. It is composed of quartz, which is the main mineral. The size of quartz is relevant. Granites have very deep roots. Generally, this soil has horizontal fractures. In the mouth, you see more on the front palate and rustic energy with dry tannins. Granites produces very mineral wines with intensity.

Terroir Basic facts.jpg

For Schist soils, we find this terroir in Côte-Rôtie, Ribeira Sacra, Bierzo, Central Otage, Alsace and Monterrei. For this soil, rocks are metamorphic. In the palate, this type of wine has a high acidity and a dry sensation. They are also powerful and have minerality.

The Complex Gravels soils are present in Graves (Bordeaux), Uco Valley, Châteauneuf du Pape, Rioja Alta and Sonoma. It is called complex because this is the result of chemical associations. On this terroir, there is too much drainage because the water capacity holding is very small.

The last one is Basalt. Basalte are magmatic rocks.

Blind Tasting Wines - Terroir

After, this very interesting class about Terroir, we tasted 8 different wines blind. The goal was to guess the kind of terroir, based upon the presentation by Pedro Parra.

The tasting was divided into 4 flights.

The first was composed of 4 wines, which are:

· VZ, Van Zellers, Douro, 2011 (Portugal) : Terroir = Schist

· Camille Giroud, Gevrey Chambertin, Les Craies, 2011 (Burgundy – France) : Terroir = Limestone

· Domaine Georges Vernay, Saint-Joseph, Terre d’Encre, 2010 (Rhône – France) : Terroir = Granite

· Alain Graillot, Crozes-Hermitage, 2011 (Rhône – France): Terroir = Compex Gravels

The second flight was:

· Altos Las Hormigas, Malbec, 2012 (Argentina): Terroir = Limestone + Gravel x

The third flight was:

· Plateau, Cause des Ons, Malbec, 2011 (Cahors – France) : Terroir = Limestone

The fourth flight was composed of two wines:

· Pierre Jean Villa, Esprit d’Antan, 2009 (Rhône – France) : Terroir = Schist

· Massolino, Barolo, 2010 (Italy) : Terroir = Limestone

Terroir tasting with Pedro Parra

This experience was new for me. It was very interesting to learn more about Terroir, and to try to identify the Terroir in the wines by blind tasting. I'm looking forward to learning more and more about Terroir & Wine.

Thank you Pedro Parra, Favorite Brands, and Ensemble Beverages for hosting this incredible wine learning experience.