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'Groundbreaking' research proves existence of terroir

Published:  03 February, 2021

The Catena Institute of Wine in Argentina has said that its own "groundbreaking" research “irrefutably” proves the existence of terroir and its persistence across vintages. 

An article, “Terroir and vintage discrimination of Malbec wines based on phenolic composition across multiple sites in Mendoza, Argentina,” appears in Scientific Reports, the nature research journal showing the details of the research.

The Catena Institute of Wine said this study was the first to compare four different levels of terroir – three large regions, six departments, 12 geographical indications, and 23 individual parcelas (smaller than one hectare) – over three different vintages (2016, 2017 and 2018). 

The research concluded that the “terroir” effect could be chemically described, the Catena Institute of Wine said.

 “Mendoza is one of the few places in the world with strikingly different wine terroirs within short distances,” said Dr Laura Catena, founder of the Catena Institute of Wine. 

“For the first time, this study shows that the terroir effect can be chemically described from vintage to vintage in larger regions as well as in smaller parcelas (parcels). We were able to predict with 100% certainty the vintage of each wine of our study through chemical analysis.” 

In addition to predicting the vintage of each wine, 11 out of 23 parcelas could be identified by chemical analysis with 100% certainty, while the remaining 12 parcelas could be identified with up to 83% certainty. 

“Our study gives credence to what the Burgundian Cistercian monks called ‘cru,’ simply defined by Hugh Johnson as ‘a homogeneous section of the vineyard whose wines year after year proved to have an identity of quality and flavor,’” added Dr Catena. 

“And today, for the first time in the scientific literature, the French ‘cru’ gets a Spanish name, ‘parcela,’ because the wines studied at the Catena Institute of Wine were from Mendoza, Argentina.” 

The Catena Institute of Wine was founded in 1995 by Dr Catena, MD of Catena Zapata.