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Terroir: Slope, Soil, Sun, Ego?

Over on Do Bianchi, Jeremy Parzen "moved outside of his tribe" of Italian wine and also the warmth of Texas to brave Chicago blizzards and boldly report on some of the top French wines of Pasternak Imports. Though enchanted by a white Châteauneuf-du-Pape from Château La Nerthe, the most enthralling thing he witnessed came during a non-descript sounding "Why terroir matters" panel. (I hope he took his glass with him.) Things got more interesting than you would expect when Edouard Moueix of Château Lafleur proclaimed, "The biggest human effect on terroir is ego."

Parzen characterizes the comment as being flippant, yet provocative and intriguing. (No doubt!) What do you think of Moueix's comment? Do we put too much stock in the old saw that great wine is made in the vineyard? A winemaker just tries to get out of the way of the grapes, do as little as possible, blah blah blah?

If a grapevine falls in the vineyard and no one is there to express the terroir, does it have minerality?

"We speak so often of terroir but are we really talking about our own perception of the wine and not a confluence of climatic, topographic, and geologic elements?" Parzen wonders. "Is it really (the) ego that defines terroir?"

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