Terroir Wines

Terroir is one of the most used, but at the same time, the least understood terms in winemaking.
Certainly, most wine lovers, when savoring a wine, heard a phrase like “this wine has a wonderful terroir…” or “the taste of terroir…”. Wondering what does this mean?

Although there is no official definition of terroir, and from an etymological point of view, the word “terroir” comes from “terre” – “land”, in fact, the wine-making terroir is not only the soil on which the vineyard grows.

It is an entire ecosystem, composed of soil, climate and vine interaction. At the same time, the terroir would mean nothing without traditions, as well as a human and his role, comparable to that of an orchestral conductor.
The idea of terroir is quite old, it goes back to the ancient Greeks, who widely developed winemaking. Ancient Greece had many climatic variations and vineyards showed different results even if the same grape variety was cultivated.
The ancient idea of “terroir” prompted the Greeks to stamp their wine amphorae to determine where they came from. Later, the Romans, as they expanded their empire, applied the same practice in their wine-growing regions. They associated some particularly high-quality wine samples with the place of their origin. In those days, the wines of some communes were sold at a higher price than others that did not enjoy such a high reputation, and since then we can talk about the hierarchy of the noble origin of wines.

The philosophy of terroir has been strengthened from generation to generation and today opens up new possibilities that can help to answer the long-standing question: “What is terroir in a wine?”
Despite the fact that there are many places in the world with similar climatic conditions, soils with the same characteristics, one thing remains unique – the wonderful interaction of soil, vine and climate.

Terroir is fundamentally a belief that the land and climate give the unique characteristics that cannot be transferred to any other region in the world.
Wine experts rightly believe that the correct terroir is 80% of success in wine production.

Climate and topography

Climate and topography

The key factor in viticulture composing the terroir is climate.
The nature created the most favorable conditions for growing vines in the area between the 50th and 30th parallels of both Northern and Southern hemispheres.

The climate of a region is usually determined by its geographic location, although small sub-regions and even separate vineyards may have their own microclimate, leading to particularly distinctive wine characteristics. While temperature is a determining factor in terroir, the overall climate must also be considered, as constituents such as precipitations, humidity, wind and sun exposure play an important role in wine creation.
Grapes need sunlight to amass natural sugars, but too much sun can cause sunburn. Rain is also vital for the vine to grow, but excess moisture can cause disease and diminish the taste. Meanwhile, strong winds can slow down the ripening of the grapes, which is not necessarily a bad thing, but it is a factor that will definitely affect the result of the wine in one way or another.
All of these elements are to be considered in the long term, so when talking about the terroir of wine, we take account of the climate as a whole, not separate vintages.

An equally important factor is the vineyard’s position. This is more than its point on the map. Topography takes into account slope, altitude above sea level and nearby terrain significantly influences the terroir.
Nearby natural objects, such as rivers, sea and mountains, can also have a tangible effect on vines, defining a moderating temperature effect.

Grape varieties and the human factor.

Grape varieties and the human factor.

There are several thousand varieties of grapes in the world. They represent a result of a selection have been being executed by many generations of winegrowers over the centuries. Each varietal has its own distinctive morphological characteristics, a certain type of berries at maturity and more or less different ripening periods. Of all the grape varieties, only a few dozen can be considered noble enough to be used as a basis for high-quality wine production.
The organization of work on vineyards and wine cellars is less based on science – geography is much more important here than technology. The history and traditions of the vine growing made it possible to find and highlight those grape varieties and methods of working in the vineyards that would best suit the conditions of a particular region with respect for the natural revelation of the local terroir. This also implies the most efficient ways of forming and pruning vines, the highest possible yield and winemaking technology.

For example, in Moldova, there are 109 varieties of basic and 161 varieties of cloned grapes registered and cultivated. However, in winemaking, including households, only 44 varieties are used to the maximum, of which 13 are white and 31 red grapes. At the same time industrial producers prefer a total of less – about 9 varieties of red and 12 varieties of white grapes. In other words, no more than 22 grape varieties are used in professional winemaking in Moldova. And these vines are associated with landscapes, culture and everyday life. There must be added the unique geological and climatic factors, thanks to which the vines create excellent conditions for the further production of real, authentic wines with distinctive characteristics.
Thus, Terroir is a kind of social structure that brings together the environment and human intervention as factors affecting the quality of wines. Centuries ago, it was human hands that created vine cultivation areas and technologies, as well as laid the foundations of modern winemaking.
Therefore, today we can say that “Terroir is manifested when the vine and the soil speak the same language.”
According to experts, in the production of high-quality terroir wines, the influence of the environment in the formation of the “character” of wine should be at least 75 percent, and human intervention – no more than 25%.



Along with climate, geography and grape varieties, another important component of terroir is soil, that not only nourishes the vine with water, but also provides it with all the necessary nutrients.

Type, structure and chemical formula of the soil on which the vines grow has a direct impact on wines taste, since it is from the soil that grapes take the nutrients, they need to ripen. An interesting fact is that soils on which grapes grow are not fertile enough for the cultivation of other agricultural plants.

A wide variety of soils are suitable for growing vines: sandy, clay, pebble and even rocky, but most of all it is a combination of several types of soils in different proportions. But grapes from different soils will be different. For example, berries from sandy soils produce more elegant dry wines, while clayey ones “give birth” to bold, structured wines.

Another necessary feature of soil is to provide the necessary moisture balance – drainage. Different grape varieties manifest themselves in different ways: some like excess moisture, others cannot stand “wet feet”.

In addition to drainage soils also performs a thermoregulatory function: depending on the color, different types of soils absorb or reflect solar heat.
In cooler regions, it is important that the soil accumulates and retains heat, that determines the choice of grape varieties for a particular region.

Together, all these factors determine the unique soil basis on which the vineyard develops, absorbing all the features of the wine terroir.
There are many examples of soils from regions that define the uniqueness of the wine’s character: the limestone soils of Champagne, the shale soils of Moselle, the volcanic soils of Etna or the clayey Pomerol.
But terroir determines the unique interaction of soil, climate, grape varieties and traditions.

Purcari Terroir

Purcari Terroir

The history of viticulture and winemaking in the area between the Dniester and Prut rivers goes back to antiquity – 5000 years ago. Throughout history, there have been periods of prosperity and decline, but the industry has survived with all the changes in social and economic formations.
Viticulture in the region began to develop on a large scale with the formation of the Moldavian feudal state in the 14th century and reached its peak in the 15th century. Back in the Middle Ages, wine became the leading export item from the Moldavian principality.

And only during the 300-year period of the Ottoman yoke, viticulture in the region was in deep decline, since winemaking was prohibited by law.
Each of these periods had a significant impact on the intensity of the development of viticulture and winemaking on Moldovan land.

Already in the 18th century, one of the most important regions of viticulture and winemaking in Bessarabia was the villages of the so-called lower Dniester region, in particular, and the village of Purcari. For the first time the village is mentioned in historical documents since 1560 and in the past, it was the possession of the Afono-Zagraf monastery.
Based on the experience of the successful cultivation of grapes by the local population, in the early 19th century, colonists in Purcari began to plant vineyards in industrial scale, to build large wineries and cellars for aging wines. Almost 70% of all estates in the region were concentrated in Purcari.
By the end of the 19th century, the entire right bank of the Dniester in this area was completely covered with splendid vineyards, which were the pride and glory of its inhabitants, and embellished the area.
Purcari stood out as the most important winemaking center and became famous for their fine red wines. Viticulture and winemaking in this area had peculiar features, mainly associated with the soil and climatic characteristics of the area. The village is located at an altitude of 103 meters above sea level and is located on the same so-called “Golden” 45th parallel as the famous wine region of Bordeaux. Experienced winemakers of Purcari, skillfully caring for the plants and successfully using red grape varieties, began to produce wines of special merits, which were highly appreciated by wine experts at the first agricultural exhibition in Bessarabia in 1847. Experts noted that Purcari red wine “is remarkable for its beautiful color, taste and pleasant raspberry aroma, and also has a great similarity to Bordeaux wine”.
The high quality of Purcari wines was recognized and awarded with a gold medal at the World Exhibition in Paris in 1878.

The excellent quality of the wines in Purcari microzone was primarily due to the properties of the local soils. The soil here is mainly so-called carbonate chernozem, sandy loam is also found, with a small amount of rubidium, as well as the presence of Tertiary red deposits, saturated with trace elements of the iron group.
Climatically, the Purcari vineyards are also in favorable conditions. The proximity of the Dniester River and the floodplains is of great importance, which ensures the necessary climatic stability and protects the vineyards from both severe frosts and summer heat. Thus, the grapes ripen gradually, without destructive temperature changes, absorbing everything necessary.
Renowned American wine expert Hugh Johnson said: “Terroir is the wine’s medium of origin. It is the combination of soils, climatic conditions and winemaking traditions that define the character of a wine”.

Certainly, the terroir of Purcari, the best and most famous wine-growing region of Moldova, gives Timbrus Purcari Estate wines unique characteristics that cannot be reproduced elsewhere. Nature participates in the creation of the taste of wine, and the earth itself prompts, says, gives advice on how to produce the most expressive wine and which vines are most suitable for Purcari microclimate.


No two wine regions are alike – even between two vineyards located in close proximity to each other, there can be many differences. Wines made from grapes grown in different parts of Moldova will certainly differ in taste and aroma, even if the grapes were of the same variety. At the same time, it is customary to call terroir a product made from grapes grown not only in a separate vineyard and in certain areas, but also under controlled conditions.

In fact, most winemakers vinify grapes from different regions together, and these differences in soil and micro-environment usually affect the character and quality of the wines. Such wines are devoid of terroir features and are more so-called “industrial” wines.

The grapes for “Timbrus Terroir Wines” are grown exclusively on our own vineyards in the Purcari microzone. At the same time, we use specially designated areas for these wines, we carefully analyze all factors, taking into account the different exposures of each area to the sun, the use of different clones, soil peculiarities, characteristics of the year and the degree of maturity of each area. The vines in these areas are characterized by low yields, and the berries reach excellent tannin maturity. The sum of these parameters affects the organoleptic characteristics of terroir wine, making it unique and unlike other wines from this variety.

At the same time, it is extremely important that the classic grape varieties grown on our terroir do not lose their awareness. So, for example, Syrah retains its characteristic features, but nevertheless acquires distinguishable notes that make it possible to reveal all the information about the area in which it “grew up”. This is the fundamental principle of terroir wines.

Therefore, wine experts believe that the concept of “single vineyard” (production of wine from one individual site) allows to create a wine with the maximum expression of the terroir and character of the grape variety.

The creation of terroir wine is a very complex and responsible process, delicate workmanship that requires skill, time, effort and resources. Careful manual harvest of grapes after reaching the maximum degree of maturity allows to preserve the taste and aroma characteristics of the berries to the maximum. After harvesting, the integrity of the berries is carefully checked in order to choose the most ripe, juicy and full-bodied.

Vinification of grapes from each site takes place separately. The mission of the winemaker is “not to squeeze out all the juice”, but to use the highest quality free-run fractions.
Fermentation takes place at a controlled temperature using natural “wild” yeast, “living” on grape berries, in the natural microflora, during their ripening, which allows the future wine to reveal its origin and varietal character to the maximum.

All Timbrus Terroir Wines are first aged for at least 18 months in French and Romanian oak barrels, and then in bottles for at least 6 months.

Terroir wines always come from the same region. Their origin not only endows them with quality and basic features, but allows any connoisseur to come, see the land and vineyards where his favorite wine “grows”, and meet the people who make it. Thus, Terroir unites the final product – wine and its place of origin.
These are always limited and exclusive wines, different from mass-produced wines, the exact opposite of the so-called McWine.