Dr. Kevin Pogue, PhD, professor, geologist, and terroir expert educates us on terroir. This podcast is like taking a terroir class: it debunks so many things that people spout in reference books, at wineries, and in mainstream press about the topic! He explains things brilliantly and he is one of the first people I’ve ever met who actually has answers to my really dorky questions about terroir.
Photo: Kevin Pogue. From Vinterra.net
As more detail, Kevin is one of the most famous people in the field of terroir. He’s considered the foremost terroir expert on Washington State wine and he’s known around the world – his work has been featured in both national and international journals. He’s a licensed geologist and professor of geology at Whitman College in Walla Walla. Kevin has a doctorate in geology from Oregon State University, and decades of college teaching and research experience. He has authored books, articles, and done extensive research on the terroir of the Pacific northwest, with a good portion of this time spent on investigating the deposits of the Missoula floods, which were the pivotal event that formed the geological base of the region.
Kevin’s research today focuses on terroir. He owns a consulting company, Vinterra, through which he assists wineries in choosing the best vineyard sites, matching grape to site, and educating winery owners and winemakers and their customers on why their specific terroir leads to the style in their wine.
Here are the items we discuss:
- Kevin tells us about his past, studying the Himalyan thrust belt, and how he got into wine in Walla Walla
- To set our baseline, Kevin defines terroir, referring to the definition of terroir from the OIV (International Organization of Vine and Wine)
The majority of the show is spent with Kevin clearing up many, many things we hear about terroir, much of which is not exactly correct. We cover…
- Why grapes that grow on slopes are often of higher quality than those on the valley floor.
- Why slopes can be warmer even though altitude makes them cooler (VERY confusing — temperature drops 1˚C for every 100 meters of altitude yet during the coldest times, the slopes are warmer due to air density!)
- The benefits of south, southeast, and southwest facing slopes in the northern hemisphere and what actually happens with temperatures of the soil to have this make an appreciable difference.
- Solar radiation and how it plays a part in ripening and quality of the grapes. We get into whether slope angle actually matters.
- DIRT! Kevin is a geologist and he rocks my world talking about the two or three REALLY key factors of soil and what you may be tasting in the wine that is reflective of the terroir. We also discuss the role of irrigation and whether that makes wine or a more manipulated beverage.
- Kevin helps me understand the “terroir deniers” and the argument he makes to try to convince them.
- Washington State, discussing the AVA petition for the Rocks of Milton Freewater, which makes some of the most distinctive Syrah in the world. Kevin discusses this unique plot and why some of the wines taste so much of place (“funk”) and some are just ok.
- How AVAs are made, what goes into it and whether or not they are meaningful or meaningless. We compare the AVA system in the US to the PDO system in Europe.
To me, this is the most comprehensive look at terroir I have ever received. I hope you learn as much as I did in the show. This is Kevin’s first show with me, but it won’t be his last! I hope you love the super dork out that is this show!!
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