Intro to Vineyard Soil Types | Palate Club

Intro to Vineyard Soil Types

Intro to Vineyard Soil Types

Mineraity is a conversational subject in the wine world. There is not yet any scientific evidence that supports that the flavor of the soil comes through in the wine. That is not to say, however, that soil does not affect the flavor of the wine- although perhaps not in the way you might think. The type of soil works with the vine and the climate to provide water drainage, exchange nutrients, retain heat or cool the vines, and alter the acidity in the grapes. This is a complex subject, but most of the soil types in the world fall under a broad category

Limestone

Alkaline soil composed of ancient marine life that has been compressed over millions of years, with high amounts of calcium carbonate. Limestone is famous for quality winemaking in that it offers good drainage in wet weather but retains water in dry weather. It can  reflects sunlight to promote photosynthesis and has a high pH (which means increased nutrient exchange between the soil and the vine. Properties: Aromatic, elegant, high acid wines. Classic regions: Champagne (chalky limestone), Chablis, St. Emilion

Loam

Soft, fertile soils that combines several types of rock, including clay, sand, and silt.  Loam soils are not associated with quality winemaking. The vines do not struggle as much, so there is more vigor and less concentration to the fruit. Good wine is possible with vineyard management. Properties: Often light in color and body, unless carefully managed or combined with another soil type. Classic regions: Barossa Valley

Sandy

Sandy soils are made of large particles, so they offer good drainage. This can mean that nutrients are deprived, but it also prevents the root louse phylloxera from attacking. Properties: Fresh, aromatic wines, often lighter in texture. Classic regions: Chianti Classico & Barolo but not the only soil in either regions!)

Alluvial

This is another fertile soil, composed of materials left behind by rivers. There is a fair amount of organic material in the soils. This tends to be a mix of gravel, silt, and sand. Like loam, vineyard management must be practiced. Properties: Lower acid, less aroma. Classic regions: Napa Valley

Clay

Made up of dense sedimentary rock, clay soils are heavy. They retain water well, although drainage can be poor. In warmer climates, clay soils retain moisture. Properties: Dark color with firm tannin and high extraction. Classic regions: Pomerol, Rioja Baja

Silt 

Silt soils have a fine texture. It has good water retention due to the small particles of the soil, but this can also result in waterlogging, which can lead to vineyard disease. Loess is a wind-blown type of silt with high portions of silica Properties: These wines tend to be rounder and smoother, as the wines tend to be lower in acidity. Classic regions: Columbia Valley, Washington. Lower Austria

Volcanic 

Made of lava that has been cooled and turned into rock. These soils are high in iron, offer good drainage as well as heat and water retention. Properties: Complex, ashy wines. Classic regions: Santorini, Sicily

-AT