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June 02, 2011

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Rich continues to be the cutting edge of east coast wine, and one of it's premiere winemakers.

Rich,

Nice article altogether, and I like the soil profile in the photo. And 2010 is definitely a great year for LI.

In your discussion with Lenn you talk enthusiastically about terroir , yet at no point is terroir defined. One thing is sure: terroir is not the french word for soil. So I was curious what is your definition of terroir, since it seems to be juxtaposed to your description of various soils. Personally I rarely use this word as it tends to further intimidate most people.

As to Long Island, while we may yet see something emerge that would get a general consensus, it is going to be difficult to attribute it to our environment. Consider this: at Paumanok we have 4 parcels planted with Merlot. Indeed they show different personalities and they take turn at excelling as a function of the different yearly weather. They also have different genetic material. Different clones and different rootstocks. So figuring out whether the difference is from the weather, the soil, the rootstock or the clone is rather is a difficult task.

If this is now extrapolated to the rest of LI it increases that complexity as there are many more clone/rootsock/soils combinations out there.

Therefore when attempting to figure if there is, for instance, a LI Merlot character, as might be found in Pomerol or St Emilion, this is unlikely to emerge given that disparity. Let us remember that in Pomerol and St Emilion vineyards are a lot older and date back to the day when genetic material was more uniform and therefore far more likely to produce wines with similar personalities. Many clonal selections are relatively modern and were created by such enterprises as ENTAV/INRA in France. LI being a new viticultural area has taken full advantage of this diversity.

So with this long digression, what would be your definition of the word terroir?

All you ever wanted to know about Suffolk County soils...(Clicking on this link will trigger a 17.4 MB download).

http://soils.usda.gov/survey/online_surveys/new_york/NY103/suffolk.pdf

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