Terroir is the soul of the wine’s birthplace

It is a concept so French that it is easier felt on the palate than expressed by the tongue. Call it a wonder of nature or the most fascinating aspect of wine. Wine’s very DNA is encoded in the terroir. Two things stand for this incredible genetic heritage — the characteristics of the unique location of the vineyard and the mastery of the winemakers, perfected during centuries of creative toil. A defining component of fine wine character, terroir imparts a unique taste, a revelation of place that you can feel from the very first sip. Our winery’s sense of place evokes the pristine scent of the world's best roses and gives our wines elegance like no other.

Terroir is the inspiration that you are at the right place. No fine wine can exist without terroir.

The name of the place where the grapes are grown is engraved on the business card of wine. It is the only beverage in the world honored with such a distinction. One look at the label, and you already know the name of the vineyard, the village, or at least the country of origin. Following in the steps of what stands behind the name is the key to the character of the Zelanos wines. Let’s have a look.

The foundation of everything is own vineyards. We meticulously care for 70 hectares of our own: the indigenous Misket along with the classic Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Gris, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Cabernet Franc, and Syrah. The carefully chosen sites are the basis for the taste and quality of our wines. Several factors determine what you will get in the glass: climate, which makes viticulture possible; vintage, with all the vagaries of nature that can make or break the harvest; the exact location of the vineyard (whether it is on a slope or in the valley, whether it faces south or north, etc), which can enhance or mitigate the prevalent pattern of the climate; and, of course, the soil itself. All these are components of terroir. Against the backdrop of this naturally occurring set-up, man selects the grape varieties, training and vine density — all critically important for the wine in the glass. The winemaker also becomes part of the terroir by breathing his vision, like a sculptor, to the raw material and by kneading into shape the wine’s character.

The ideal soil for grape growing would be relatively poor in nutrients, consisting of a thin topsoil and porous subsoil with the capacity to retain enough moisture. Vines are not fond of ‘wet feet’, so excellent drainage is vital. The terroir around Slavyantsi village, where our vineyards lie, is sandy and superbly drained, which is the perfect background for producing elegant wines. Beneath the thin topsoil, lies a thick subsoil of sand and small rocks which quickly drains excess water and at the same time retains enough hydration for the vines during the long dry summers. During véraison (the time when berries change color and begin to ripen), the level of the water table falls, stimulating the vines to concentrate on ripening the grapes instead of wasting energy on growing leaves.

The temperature potential of the soil determines whether the grapes will ripen sooner (as is the case with sandy and gravel soils) or later (as with cold soils containing predominantly clay). The warm soils of our terroir contrast with a cooler climate that holds the key to the elegance of the wines. The long hours of sunshine well into late fall let the grapes ripen evenly and slowly, which leads to excellent balance between acid and sugar. The sites we have chosen for the vineyards are delightfully pristine and untouched by industrial activity, what are maybe the last wild places of Old Europe. All these factors of carefully planned location translate into the taste with exciting purity and finesse.

Winemaking, a vital component of terroir, is guided by our philosophy of minimal intervention in nature’s way. All our wines are hand-crafted artisanal products. Each comes from a single vineyard. Its aim is never to copy the wine of another or follow a textbook style. Its originality comes from the deep connection with the land that gives birth to the grapes — a natural link bringing character and own style. Our terroir delivers a clear message from this Old World place: it’s like coming home after a long journey, feeling warm, cosy, and just right.

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