Rocks in Your Wine (May 28, 2003)
Wine mavens talk a lot about "terroir" a French term
that embraces the physical influences on a grape vine, including the earth
in which it is grown and the climate around it.
Terroir will influence the taste of the wine according to the soil composition.
One California vintner has gone one step further in influencing the taste
of his wine. Randall Grahm, the man who introduced Rhône grape varieties
into California and created a Rhône-style blend he calls Le Cigare
Volante, wants to put sacks of rock chips to macerate in his wine prior
to bottling. He plans to bottle two versions of Le Cigare Volante if he
gets the green light from Californian wine authorities one with
the rock chip flavour and one without.
Grahm claims that this is not a "publicity stunt or a crazy idea
from a drug-addled child of the '60s... minerality is the key to distinctiveness
in wines," he argues. "If soil types influence wine in the vineyard
then why not take the process one step further?"
Cigare Volant is French for "flying saucer." Grahm named his
wine as homage to a Rhône village whose local council passed a resolution
forbidding flying saucers to land in their vineyards. So far the law has