Different types of soil & geology

Pinot Noir is grown in many and varied types of soil. So many in fact it is hard to generalise, however, some aspects are important in growing pinot noir such as –

1. Good drainage – allow for deep root development.

2. A pH which allows uptake of nutrients important for healthy growth and desease resistence.

3. A health micro-organism content.

All these facts interplay and support the growth of the vine.  They are an important but not exclusive component of what the french have termed “Terroir”. Too rich a soil and the vine will be too vigorous, too poor and it will not develop properly.  Some growers suggest that specific soils are the reason that they produce good wine or have a specific flavour profile or structure. This is almost certainly true although sometimes it is over stated. The above picture is from Martinborough and features a rock full of large marine fossils. The soils in this area area also sit on deep glacial loam and gravels.  This is an ideal medium for vines t0 develop deep roots and probably contributed minerality to the flavours in the wines. Fossils are often attributed to have a almost magical quality and are often said to be the reason for the greatness of a particular vineyard. Certainly an abundance of fossils in the underlying geology would result in a calcium rich and often well drained soil. By contrast, it is also suggested that clay soils which are often poorly drained (a negative) result in wines with good body and power.

Finally, a balanced vine is going to have the best chance of producing outstanding flavours.  Any soil that allows a balanced vine to be maintained will be suitable to grow pinot noir. This subject leads onto a broader discussion of terroir, organic, biodynamic and other  related issues will be the subject of other posts.


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