Academia del Terruño (Academy of Terroir) is a training programme for the wine trade launched by Abadía Retuerta a few years ago. Although it is primarily aimed at professionals, it can also be a useful tool for wine aficionados looking for answers to their questions.
In the same way that nobody is expected to know what a dolly shot or a sequence shot are to enjoy a film, there is no need for you to understand technical details if you just want to share a good bottle of wine.
Álvaro Pérez Navazo, director of Academia del Terruño, answers four questions so that everyone can enjoy and feel at ease in front of a glass of wine.
What is the most basic thing anyone should know about wine?
Wine is a drink with an ancient tradition, closely linked to the Mediterranean culture. For centuries, grape growing shaped the landscape of many regions and wine was a source of nourishment, wealth and economic sustenance. It has also been the best ambassador of the traditions, culture and character of a place. Starting from the very basics (fermentation followed by a period of stabilization which, in some cases, involves ageing the wine for several years), an infinite number of nuances can be achieved depending on the characteristics of the place of origin, the grape varieties and type of containers used, winemaking styles… All these factors provide an incredible wealth of styles, flavours and sensations. Diversity is part of the essence of wine. That is why a glass of wine is best approached with an open mind.
What is terroir and why are all wine lovers so obsessed with it?
This obsession comes from the fact that behind a great wine there is always great terroir. Terroir is a French word that includes a series of elements combined in different ways, but it’s basically the climate, the soil, the grape varieties and the human factor, or the interpretation that humans make of all these elements. When we speak of a unique terroir, we are referring to a special combination of factors. What makes it so special is that it is something unrepeatable and, therefore, impossible to copy or duplicate. In a globalized world, authenticity and difference are increasingly sought after and desired values.
How can I enjoy all this in the simplest way possible?
Pairing a meal with two very different wines is an idea that always works. Here are a couple of examples: a cool-climate white or red against a warm-climate white or red; a wine made with highly aromatic grape varieties such as Riesling or Albariño, against a wine made with more neutral varieties like Viura, Albillo, etc. Comparisons can also be drawn between different types of soil such as granite (which tends to produce fresher and lighter wines) and slate (which is warmer and fuller); or sand (delicate palate) versus clay (more structure). The game extends beyond comparing the two wines -you can also observe how they pair with different dishes.
How can I get hold of these wines or someone to help me find them?
You could either go to a specialist shop or enjoy this experience in a restaurant that cares about wine with the help and complicity of the sommelier. I am sure sommeliers would be delighted to have clients who show an interest in wine. Asking for both wines to be served blind and trying to guess which one is which is also great fun. Some of the experiences we have done in the Terroir Academy will soon be available in our store at Abadía Retuerta with the Winemaker’s Collection. The results, in many occasions, have been amazing.