There are many wine types and many different wine tastes. Have you ever thought of the connections that exist which help to create these different wine flavours, or how the elements combine to produce the wines we drink?
If you look at a calcareous soil with its high lime content you would or could associate this with Chardonnay wine production. A gravelly soil would usually be associated with Cabernet Sauvignon. You also have to consider the geological conditions and climate that contribute to the character of any wine.
Importantly, it is the combination of both climate or indeed micro climate and the soil structure that influences the end result with the addition of any natural minerals that are present in the soils of the growing area. Finally, the last element is water, and by that I mean the amount that falls, when it falls and most importantly the interaction it has with the soil type.
Wine grape ripening
Most of us who drink wine know of the harvest times and generally how the grapes are gathered, either manually or mechanically, but how does the wine maker of estate manager know when the time is right?
You have early, medium and late ripening varieties and this indicates the approximate time of year given the northern or southern hemisphere you are in. However, the point at which the grape starts to ripen is closely watched to ensure the optimum time to harvest, when the grapes skin starts to develop a tint away from unripe fruit which stays green and it starts to soften to the touch.
It is during this process that the change (metabolic) is the accumulation of sugar content in the grape is assessed and monitored so as not to let the grape over ripen (when the sugars stop accumulation) but the acid content begins to decrease and often causes the grape to shrivel. At this stage, the grower makes the decision to harvest is based on the relevant levels of malic acid, fructose, sucrose and tartaric acid/PH.
Climate and its influence on wine growing
It is generally accepted we have two climatic zones… that of the northern half of Europe which is often referred to as a temperate zone, and the other being a hotter, drier southern hemisphere zone.
The next is the micro climate, which in detail describes an area that is affected by the lie of the land, proximity to the sea, altitude levels, sun light levels, fog, frost and rainfall amounts. To have too much rain is as bad as too little as this will reduce the quantity of juice in the grapes, increase the sugars and thicken the skins.