terroir or winemaker intervention?
Truthfully, I'm torn on the concept of terroir as the dominant factor in a modern wines.
Commercial winemaking is highly technical and often times focused on getting the highest "score" from various ranking and rating sources. I believe these rankings cause many winemakers to produce similar wines in hopes of increasing sales & profits.
There are many choices that an enologist makes in the course of producing a wine -- from time picked, skin contact, enzyme boosters, acid boosters (tartaric, malic, and citric), yeast variety, and even sulfide levels, that will dramatically affect the finished product. I have, on a hobbyist level, made many batches of wine side by side with a neighbor -- same grapes, same vineyard block, ect. We had radically different results with the exact same grapes because we practiced radically different styles of wine-making.
My favorite wines tend to be centered on minimalist intervention with no added sulfides. (I think that for the reds, both color and flavor drop out with heavy sulfide use.) However, minimalist needs to be defined. On a commercial level, it would be practically suicidal for a winemaker to refuse to boost acid, inoculate with yeast if a natural fermentation doesn't finish as planned, ect. Lab created yeasts have very predictable flavors and results. I find that many "new world" wines taste very similar because of the consistency of the yeast. In my opinion, it has a tendency to minimize/remove terroir from the equation.
I like buying local wines because it is usually easier to find a unique product -- one with minimalist intervention, that really does allow terroir to show through. (I rarely see these wines available through major distribution chains.) I think it would be fun to check out the wines in PA. I'm mostly familiar with west coast wines.
I did have the opportunity to do some wine touring outside of Kansas City a few years ago. That was my first experience with Norton grapes. I've never seen that varietal on my store shelves. It goes great with BBQ!
Thanks for the entertaining thread :)