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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 currently exists.”

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?

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