How many times have I told myself not to meddle in the world of terroir? Having (or starting) discussions about the traditionally French notion of how wines possess unmistakable signatures of their place of origin is not unlike having discussions about religion and sexual orientation: you need to take care who you have them with.
While not a part of the main post, the conversation in the comments quickly turned to the role of the Brettanomyces yeast and whether it is a fundamental flaw, or whether it might be considered part of the regional terroir of the southern Rhone. While some might object to the suggestion that Brett and its typical horsey, barnyard aromas are a part of terroir, the question of whether it represents (or represented at one time) a regional style.
To wit: if the scientists in South Africa manage to figure out what causes these aromas and then what to change in winemaking or winegrowing to eliminate them, should winemakers go ahead and effectively erase what many have come to consider a fingerprint of the region in an effort to make their wines taste better?
The author raises some excellent points. Like many wine lovers I seek out some wines that are known to be “flawed.” However, like the author, I really dislike the flaws commonly found in South African wines that give it its terroir.