Friday, 17 April 2009

April 2009 - Press Release

PRESS RELEASE: Minerals & Terroir – How water can affect the taste of wine

London, UK, 16th April 2009


Mineral water is a product with indisputable provenance, yet the relevance in a gastronomic setting, particularly in taste, is not understood. A sommelier, a wine buyer and a water specialist started tasting waters alongside white wines in September 2008, in order to see whether water could affect the taste of a wine. It has since been experienced that the range of effects that water can have on the palate is quite remarkable. Not only can the wrong water harm a given wine, but an appropriate choice of water can actually enhance the natural characteristics of a wine.


There is no credible fine dining establishment that doesn’t have a serious wine list with complementary spirits and cocktails – all appealing to their discerning clientele, whilst aiming for the holy grail of both specialisation and differentiation.

So why is it that in the light of recent criticisms aimed at the offering of bottled mineral water in restaurants, there has been no attempt to halt the loss of key revenues from this high-turnover product? It is quite ironic, given the encyclopaedic knowledge of how wine pairs with food, that it is the lack of knowledge that has proven to be the stumbling block.

There is simply no answer to the accusations that mineral water is no different to tap water. Lack of a unitary understanding from the mineral water industry prevents both the successful communication of an establishment’s water selection and subsequently, the offering of a mineral water appropriate for the cuisine – or dare it be said...the wine!


Minerals and Terroir is an ambitious project. It is so called as the aim is to see beyond the marketing of mineral waters and focus on the chemistry of the liquified minerals that form h2O and the individual characteristics of a wine that are borne of their terroir. We do this with taste in mind.

Over 50 white wines have been tasted, representing typical grape varieties on most sommeliers’ lists. These have been tasted alongside 11 still waters, including tap water and 10 sparkling waters. We plan to start the red wines soon.

A number of respected individuals have attended these tastings as guests, ensuring that Minerals & Terroir has not remained a ‘closed forum’ and that we take on board alternative observations. There is a unanimous surprise as to how much a water can actually affect a wine.

A detailed scoring system from 20 has been created, reflecting the variety of ways in which a water can affect the taste experience of a wine. The results turn ‘established’ knowledge on its head, with low mineral waters mostly harming wines and highly mineralised waters being most likely to enhance a wine or at least, allow it to express itself.

The findings mean that a restaurant can now offer an informed choice of water to their guests – and that vital attention to detail which will ensure that the selected wine isn’t adversely affected by any element of the meal. Finally, the on-trade can demonstrate value in the generous margins applied to bottled water.

The Minerals & Terroir team is:

Roberto della Pietra – Head Sommelier, Roussillon restaurant, Pimlico.

Nicolas Angelina –     Wine Buyer, Noura restaurants, London

Michael Tanousis –     Managing Director, Aqua Amore – Mineral Water Specialists, London

Monday, 2 March 2009

Grape Varieties - Highlighted have been sampled

Loire Valley

  • Sancerre/Pouilly Fumé, Petit Bourgeois
  • Saumur/Montlouis/Vouvray
  • Muscadet


  • Chablis
  • Aligoté
  • Côtes d'Or (Meursault)


  • oaked
  • un-oaked

Rhone Valley

  • Côtes du Rhône (Marsanne/Roussanne)
  • Chateauneuf-du-Pape (80% Roussanne/Clairette/Grenache blc)
  • Condrieu/VdP Viognier


  • Gewurztraminer
  • Riesling
  • Muscat d'Alsace (dry)
  • Pinot Gris

South (Roussillon/Languedoc/Provence/Southwest)

  • Côtes du Roussillon/Coteaux du Languedoc (Grenache blanc/Macabeu/Carignan blanc etc.)
  • Côtes de Provence
  • Jurançon Sec/Pacherenc du Vic Bilh Sec
  • Vermentino Corsica


  • Fiano
  • Gavi
  • Soave
  • Pinot Grigio
  • Vernaccia
  • Grillo (Sicily)
  • Insolia
  • Trebbiano (Lugana)
  • Nuragus


  • Rioja (Viura)
  • Galicia Treixadura/Godello/Dona Blanca
  • Somontano (Gewurztraminer)
  • Rueda (Verdelho)
  • Rias Baixas (Albariňo)


  • Louriero (Vinho Verde)
  • Codega, Rabigato, Donzelinho, Viosinho, Cercial (Tiara)
  • Bical (Dao/Bairrada)
  • Maria Gomes (Bairrada)
  • Arinto (Becelas)

Germany & Austria

  • Riesling
  • Scheurebe
  • Gruner V.


  • Chardonnay (oaked)
  • Muscat/Sauvignon/Semillon

New World


  • Chardonnay
  • Semillon, Semillon/sauvignon
  • Riesling

New Zealand

  • Sauvignon
  • Chardonnay

South Africa

  • Chenin Blanc
  • Sémillon



  • Chardonnay
  • Sauvignon
  • Viognier
  • Chenin Blanc


  • Chardonnay
  • Sauvignon
  • Sémillon

Latin America

  • Torrontés Argentina
  • Viognier Argentina
  • Chardonnay Chile
  • Sauvignon blanc Chile

White wines sampled

With Still water we have tried:
  • Pacherenc du Vic Bilh Sec, Domaine Berthomieu, 2007, SW France
  • Empreinte du Temps, Domaine Ferrer-Ribière, 2006, Roussillon
  • Semillon, Knappstein Lenswood Vineyards, Adelaide Hills, 2000, Sth Australia
  • Muscat d’Alsace “Prestige”, Cave de Ribeauvillé, Alsace
  • Petit Bourgeois, Henri Bourgeios, 2007, Loire Valley
  • Riesling Tradition, Albert Mann, 2007, Alsace
  • Chablis, Colette-Gros, 2006, Burgundy
  • Vouvray Sec, Champlou, 2006, Loire Valley
  • Gruner Veltliner. Hopler, 2006
  • Stella Bella, Margaret River, 2006, Western Australia – Semillon & Sauvignon Blanc
  • Chateau Ka, “Source blanche”, 2007, Lebanon – Muscat, Sauvignon, Semillon
  • Chateau Ksara, Cuvee du pape, Chardonnay, 2006 – 12 month French new oak
  • “Tiara”, Niepoort, Douro, Portugal 2007
  • Torrontes, Finca el Retiro, Mendoza, Argentina, 2007
  • “Flor de Gewurtztraminer”, Bodegas Laus, Somontano, Spain, 2007
  • Scheurebe Trocken, Weingut Wittmann, Rheinhssen, Germany, 2007
  • Meursault “Clos du Cromin”, Domaine Bitouzet-Prieur 2006 Burgundy (Chardonnay grape)
  • Grappoli del Grillo, Marco de Bartoli 2005 Sicily, Italy (Grillo grape)
  • Terra do Gargalo 2002, Monterrei, Galicia, Spain (Treixadura, Godello, Dona Blanca grapes)
  • Corse Calvi “Clos Culombu”, Domaine Culombu 2007, Corsica (Vermentino grape)
  • Vernaccia di San Gemignano, Pietrafita (Estate), Tuscany, 2007, Italy
  • Soave, “Sereole”, Bertani, Veneto, 2007, Italy
  • Inzolia “Montoni”, Vignali, Roccamora, Sicily, 2008, Italy
  • 2007 Bourgogne Aligoté, Domaine Ghislaine & Jean Hugues Goisot, Saint Bris, Burgundy
  • 2007 Montlouis sur Loire “Minérale+”, Domaine Frantz Saumon, Touraine, Loire Valley (Chenin blanc)
  • 2006 Pinot Gris Réserve, Domaine Jean-Baptiste Adam, Alsace
  • 2004 Clos Floridene, Domaine Denis & Florence Dubourdieu, Graves, Bordeaux (Sauvignon/Semillon/Muscadelle grape)
With Sparkling:
  • Penny’s Hill Chardonnay 2006 Australia
  • Zeltinger Himmelreich Riesling 2006 Selbach, Germany
  • Heller Estate Chenin Blanc, 2006, California
  • St Clair Sauvignon, 2007, NZ
  • Gavi, ‘Costa Mazzana’, Piedmont, 2007
  • Pinot Grigio, Linea Classica, Alto Adige, 2007
  • Fiano di Avellino, Campania, 2007
  • Lugana DOC, S. Cristina, ‘Vigneto Massoni, Veneto 2007
  • Rueda, Herederos del Marqués de Riscal 2007 Rueda, Spain (Verdejo grape)
  • Rias Baixas O Rosal, Valmiñor 2007 Galiçia, Spain (Albariño grape)
  • Nuragus di Cagliari “Pedraia”, Cantina Santadi 2007 Sardinia, Italy (Nuragus grape)
  • Châteauneuf-du-Pape Blanc, Domaine de la Janasse 2007 Rhône Valley, France
  • Chenin Blanc, Morgenhof Estate, Stellenbosch, 2007, South Africa
  • Viognier “Villavieja”, La Agrícola, Mendoza, 2007, Argentina
  • Maria Gomes, Luis Pato, Bairrada, 2007, Portugal
  • Viognier, Vin de Pays des Collines Rhodaniennes, Domaine Yves Cuilleron, 2007
  • 2007 Riesling Eden Valley, Terra Barossa
  • 2006 Viognier 'Mill Road Vineyard' Eberle Paso Robles
  • 2007 Rioja Blanco barrel fermented Viura (10% Malvasia) Luis
  • 2006 Clearwater, Chardonnay Malborough, New Zealand, Sherwood Estate

Monday, 23 February 2009

Sparkles & Surprises (Session 11 - 21 February 2009)

This week we resumed with the attendance of guests. Olivier Gasselin of Chelsea's 'Bluebird' restaurant graced us with his presence again. His astute observations are always welcome, whilst his cautious approach keeps us focused on what we are experiencing.

A surprise was to come an hour into the session when Swissotel's Alan Calzari knocked on the door with Mandarin Oriental's Markus Lindner! This added more opinions and observations from seasoned F&B professionals. 

If the concept of recommending waters with wines is ever going to gain market acceptance, it is vital that the decision makers in the industry gain exposure to our tastings whilst they are still an imperfect science, in order to understand that this isn't something that we are making up as we go along!

With sparkling waters today we sampled:

2007 Riesling Eden Valley, Terra Barossa
2006 Clearwater, Chardonnay Marlborough New Zealand Sherwood Estate
2007 Rioja Blanco Barrel Fermented  Viura (10% Malvasia) Luis Canas
2006 Viognier 'Mill Road Vineyard'   Eberle Paso Robles

Nicolas also suggested that we calculate the entire cost of Minerals & Terroir to date, in terms of wines, waters and our time...I have no idea what that is likely to be. Needless to say, we wouldn't have been putting our spare hours into this if cost was an issue.

Highlights were the emergence (finally) of a clear leader in terms of a sparkling water that has begun to show more consistently across the white wines. It is a French naturally sparkling water that is high in bicarbonates and sodium.

Sunday, 8 February 2009

Complement...or Enhance? (Session 10 - 7th February 2009)

Today we established a further definition to the scoring category. In addition to defining the score based on taste experiences, we also determined that a wine need not necessarily 'enhance' a wine, in order to recommend it alongside it. 

Quite simply, sometimes a water can prove to be an excellent complement to the wine - a 15+ almost. So we have decided to include the score of 15 into the recommendations list also.


Or enhance?


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