The secret of Terlano lies in the soils

June 19, 2015 12:28 PM

Soil, as a key component of the terroir, has a decisive influence on the taste, structure and development potential of wines, Cantina Terlano winery proved it geologically

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Soil, as a key component of the terroir, has a decisive influence on the taste, structure and development potential of wines, Cantina Terlano winery proved it geologically

The wines from Cantina Terlano are noted throughout the world for their longevity and minerality. Founded in 1893, the Cantina Terlano winery is now one of the leading wine growers’ cooperatives in South Tyrol, with a current membership of 143 growers working a total area of 165 hectares. That is the equivalent of some 1.4 million bottles of wine a year. The winery’s focus on quality has attracted praise and recognition on the Italian and international wine markets, and in spite of its relatively small size, Cantina Terlano is now well established in the world of wine.

The modern winery produces 30 per cent red and 70 per cent white wines, all of them of DOC quality (Controlled Designation of Origin). Following the last upgrade and refurbishment in 2009, the cellars now include a total of 18,000 cubic meters of storage space, which ensures that the wines can develop undisturbed. On the outside, the new tract has a natural facing of red porphyry, the stone that gives the wines in the area their typical character. The roof is planted with vines so that it blends in completely with the surrounding countryside.

Terlano’s wines are marketed in three distinct quality lines: Selections, Vineyards and Classics. An annual rarity is also produced, which only comes in the market after it has spent at least ten years maturing in our cellars. That makes it a fine symbol of our focus on longevity. In order to explain these properties and their origins, the winery recently decided to take a closer look at the geology and the soils around Terlano. The results show that the vines receive an almost ideal supply of all key nutrients. It is now generally recognised that the soil, as a key component of the terroir, has a decisive influence on the taste, structure and development potential of wines. But Cantina Terlano wanted to literally get to the root of the longevity of its wines with the help of geological tests. “It is very important for us to understand the structure and characteristics of our soils; they form the basis of our wines,” says winemaker Rudi Kofler. “We see these geological investigations as a significant investment in the future and a source of decisive information for our work in the vineyard and cellar.”

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A ten-strong team headed by the geologist Carlo Ferretti was commissioned by Cantina Terlano to conduct detailed investigations at Terlano’s top sites at Kreuth, Vorberg and Winkl. In a total of over 1100 hours of work, they performed landscape analysis with GSA, hydrogeological tests, geological investigations with geostatistical soil sampling, physical-chemical analysis of the soil, geotechnical analyses, petrographic and mineralogical investigations, and chemical composition analysis at the levels of the molecules and atoms.

The results obtained from the various tests revealed a high level of stability and resistance in the soils on the one hand and an ideal nutrition balance on the other: “The soils have an above-average silicon dioxide content but at the same time are rich in soft secondary minerals. In total, the analyses revealed the presence in the soils of practically all the elements of natural nutrition that vines need,” says Ferretti. Clay minerals were also found, which facilitate nutrient transport from the soil to the roots of the vines. Previously, clay minerals were only thought to be present in volcanic rock in the Grand Cru sites of Burgundy.

According to the latest geological findings, this combination of high mineral content and perfect nutrient supply to the vines is the key to the unique character of the wines from Cantina Terlano.

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