More on Minerality
Winemaker Greg Saunders of White Rose Vineyards in the Willamette Valley wrote me on the subject
of minerality in wine which I briefly approached in the last issue. I find his comments useful.
“When we use language to convey meaning (to communicate), a basic premise is that we are using
commonly defined terms. With minerality, we are not using a commonly defined term. If I say something
tastes like blackberry, people can agree or disagree, but they can understand the reference.
But minerality has no common reference. There are thousands of different minerals. Further, minerality
is also frequently used to describe distinct, separate sensory properties. My problem is with
ambiguity. In Lewis Carroll’s ‘Through the Looking Glass,’ Humpty Dumpty sneers at Alice and tells
her that ‘When I use a word, it means just what I choose it to mean, neither more, nor less.’ Carroll’s
example of Humpty Dumpty suggests that ambiguity or deception can be interwoven into sophisticated
discourse. I am a dirt-eating farmer with a palate preference for calcerous clay. Where I come
from, if you cannot have a common definition, we usually say the word is bs.”
And finally, a quote from Wine Flavor Chemistry, written by R.J. Clarke and J. Bakker and published in
2004: “The direct effect of soil on resultant wine flavor is ... questionable, and no scientific proof
So, in effect, minerality is a descriptive word for wine which has no common definition and a lack of
evidence exists that minerality from the soil can actually influence wine flavor. Say what?