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What is "Terroir" ?

"Terroir" is the whole of natural factors that allows grapes, cultivated in a given environment, to assimilate certain characteristics of the latter. And those factors may be multiple : the structure of the soil on which the vine is grown, the microclimat, the form of the landscape, the composition of the bedrock, the thickness of the soil, the drainage, etc...  All have their influence on the behaviour of the vine, so it can be able to produce wines  with a unique personnality.

What is the difference between "variety-wines" and "terroir-wines" ? 

At the production of "variety-wines", the intention is to exploit, as much as possible, the aromatic qualities of a given grape variety. The winemaker will concentrate on the primal, fruity and flowery flavors, typical of those grapes. Consequently you will find on the label, in the first place, the name of that particular variety.  These wines can be excellent, and they often are too, but they lack the mineral dimension due to their geographical and geological roots. Making "terroir-wines" on the contrary, means to underline and accentuate that part of their identity, trying to link the charactaristics of a grape variety to those of its environment.

Is having a good "terroir" sufficient to make "terroir-wines" ?

Unfortunately things are not that easy. To make wines, expressing their "terroir", your vines should be given the oportunity to exploit it, and a diversified microbiological life in the soil is a crucial factor in this matter. On an inert soil, you will never succeed to get the necessary symbiosis between the plant and its "terroir". Cultivating the soil will therefore be an absolute necessity, and herbicides are to be banned completely. You have to force the vine to plunge its roots into the depth, so irrigation is absolutely prohibited. Dispersing compost will stimulate the microbiological life, especially the development of "mycorhizes". And yet again, yields should be kept low enough to give the vine the possibility to assimilate all these. 

Which elements do determinate the typicality of the "Juchepie-Terroir" ?

The bedrock of Juchepie is essentially composed of grey-greenish and purple slate, alternated with volcanic rock : phtanite, spilite en rhyolite. The layer is very thin (on average not more than 20 to 40 cm) consisting essentally of heavy clay, which retains a certain reserve of moisture in times of drought. This can be very useful, as rain is here a lot more scarce than in the wider region. Here we have also a closed landscape : a small slope, facing south, and enclosed on three sides by the hillside. With an opening though to the river Layon, from which emerge the mists in autumn. These circumstances make this "terroir" particulary suited for the development of noble-rot (botrytis cinerea), en therefore for the production of great noblesweet wines.

Geological map of the "Domaine de Juchepie" : click on the link