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Leathery / Earthy Notes in Wine

Leathery and earthy notes in wine are descriptors used to characterize specific aromas and flavors that are often associated with red wines that are either derived from grape varietals with more savoury characteristics, or terroir driven factors such as clay or iron-rich soils.

Leathery Notes:

Leathery notes in wine evoke the scent of leather. This can range from a subtle hint to a more pronounced characteristic, resembling the aroma of a well-worn leather saddle or a leather-bound book.

Typical more leathery or grippy grape varietals include

Syrah/Shiraz: Syrah wines, especially those from regions like the Northern Rhône in France or Barossa Valley in Australia, are known for exhibiting leathery notes as they age.

Cabernet Sauvignon: Cabernet Sauvignon wines, particularly those with extended aging, may develop leathery characteristics. This can contribute to the complexity of the wine.

Sangiovese: In some aged Sangiovese-based wines, such as Chianti or Brunello di Montalcino, leathery notes can emerge.

Leathery characteristics can become more pronounced through winemaking practices such as 

Microoxygenation: Wines that undergo extended aging, especially in the presence of porous ageing mediums such as oak barrels and amphora clay pots, may develop leathery characteristics through microoxygenation. This is an intentional process that can influence the development of leathery notes

Earthy Notes:

Earthy notes in wine encompass a broad spectrum of characteristics that evoke elements of the earth. This can include aromas and flavors reminiscent of forest floor, wet soil, mushrooms, or even truffles

Grape varietals that tend to exhibit earthy notes include

Pinot Noir: Pinot Noir wines, particularly those from Burgundy, are known for displaying earthy characteristics. These can range from damp forest floor to hints of mushroom.

Nebbiolo: Nebbiolo-based wines, such as those from Barolo or Barbaresco in Italy, may develop earthy notes, complementing their tannic structure.

Gamay: Gamay, the grape variety used in Beaujolais wines, can exhibit earthy characteristics, especially as the wines age.

Terroir also plays an important factor to earthy wines

Soil Composition: Wines from vineyards with clay or iron oxide rich soils may exhibit different earthy characteristics.

Cool Climate Regions: Wines from cooler climate regions, where grapes ripen more slowly, may develop more pronounced earthy notes.

Exploring wines from different regions, grape varieties, and aging conditions can provide a diverse range of leathery and earthy notes, contributing to the rich tapestry of wine flavors.

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