Ginger Meggs, Wallabies and Terroir Down Under

By David Farmer

The official body, Wine Australia, for reasons best known to itself embraces the French term terroir and encourages others to do the same by using phrases like ‘unique Australian terroirs’.
Terroir is an interesting word and while its origin goes back to the nineteenth century, perhaps earlier, its regular appearance in wine commentary is quite recent. What it means can include a bit of everything, but it is French and finally will be whatever the French wish it to be.
In a land of unique flora and fauna, Ginger Meggs, and ‘beaudy, bonza, mate’; to embrace terroir as Australian is the worst form of cultural cringe.
That Wine Australia encourages the use of such phrases concerns me as we have no need for this cringe leaching across our landscape. It follows that if I can be certain about anything it is that use of terroir must have no part in the marketing of our wines.
Selling wine is a deadly battle and each case sold is a hard gain and the last thing you do is support a term owned by another nation. Not only does Wine Australia do the bidding of the EU and particularly the French, as I found to my cost a year back, by policing the useage of regional EU wine terms, but at the same time can back-flip by embracing and encouraging others to use a unique French expression.
And since we are discussing what terroir is the whole notion of unique terroirs states the flipping obvious as every vineyard on earth shows a difference in landscape detail to every other so they all are unique.
Though allow me to express the sorrow felt by all Australians that the Yellow Tail Super Bowl advertisements did not mention our ‘world class and unique terroirs.’


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