INFLUENCING FACTORS ON THE WINE
WHAT DETERMINES ITS QUALITY
We can define 4 factors of influence that will determine the qualtity of a wine.
- Variety of grape
VARIETY OF GRAPE
It is said that there are more than 10,000 grapes around the world. Not all of them are cataloged and valid to produce wine. Table grapes are not used to produce wine. The wine is elaborated from grapes coming usually from vitis vinifera plants.
We can stablish generic profiles for each variety, and defining their organoleptic profile and basic characteristics. Even so, the same variety will express itself in a different way depending the factors it was influenced by in the past, as they are climate or ground, for example.
We name local varieties to those ones that for a long time have been placed to a certain geographic area, so they are already adapted to the weather and ground, and therefore, they’ll be better developed there. Anyway, that doesn´t mean that this specific grapes cannot be in other different places, but always if this conditions are respected.
The varietals won´t be the only factor that will determine the wine, but the different types of clones, the viticulture applied to the plants during the development, etc. as well as the enviroment where the plant is growing up.
We should not confuse climate and weather. The climate is the group of climatological characteristics that are given in a certain long period of time. The weather is just in a punctual moment.
There are so many different variety of climates around the world. The type of climate will be influenced by latitude and length where the geographic area is located. Specifically, the latitude is determinant in the wine cultivation, because it is not possible to cultivate vineyards everywhere, but only between 30º-50º paralels of both hemispheres.
Once rejected certain zones due to their latitudes, it will always be positive to cultivate vineyards in dry regions, with a controlled pluviometry (500-600mm per year maximum) and well divided in the key moments during the vegetative cycle of the vineyard.
The thermal amplitude (day-night temperature difference) will be also decisive for getting aromas concentration, fixation of pigments and structure contribution to the grape and, therefore, to the wine.
We can distinguish 3 types of generic climates in the vineyard areas:
- Mediterranean: warm climate with hot summers and little rain, and warm and rainy winters. Intermediate seasons are very variables.
- Continental: it is considered a climate of extrems, that is to say, hot summers and cold winters. Precipitations are scarce in general. It is usually compared to indoor weather, or geographically isolated zones.
- Oceanic: warm climate with moderated temperatures, due to the closeness to the ocean, with also produces abundant rain.
The wine profile will be influenced by the ground characteristics where it is taking place:
The grapevine is a very resistant plant, which expresses its greater potential when it is exposed to certain stress (not just hydric), so it usually prefers grounds with less organic matter, loose, with good drainage and deep ones where its roots can develop vertically. If we have to choose an ideal ground, we would go to limestone clay, with some sand, gravel, stone…
Orographical conditions of the ground will also influence, and therefore, its inclination and orientation will define isolation hours too.
About the altitude, the grapevine cultivation concentrates around 400-800m over the sea level, even though there are other more extreme vineyard areas, in higher altitudes that can reach 1,200 m, or even close to the sea level.
The unevenness of the ground influences principally in the thermal amplitude and in the solar radiation, favoring a slower maturation. We can also consider the ‘air purity’ factor as a direct consequence of this altitude.
There are 4 key elements that will determine the charateristics of a certain terroir: climate, ground, variety of grape, in union with traditional or cultural practices.
We consider cultural practices the ones carried on by the viticultor and the winemaker, in so many cases conditioned by ancient traditions, taking a relevant rol in the wine personality.