Appears in
Oxford Companion to Wine

By Jancis Robinson

Published 2006

  • About

minerality, imprecise tasting term and elusive wine characteristic that, along with the descriptor mineral, became common currency in the early years of this century. Although descriptors such as flinty/gunflint (pierre à fusil), stony, and chalky have been in circulation for many years, particularly with reference to white wines such as those from sancerre and chablis, the term ‘minerality’ has been adopted much more recently by winemakers, marketers, and wine writers. If there is little agreement as to its exact meaning, there is even less as to its causes, but it is particularly useful for describing not only an aroma and flavour, but sometimes also a texture that is undeniably present in some wines from a wide range of regions and varieties, especially, but not exclusively in cool-climate whites. It is easier to say what it is not—fruity, vegetal, or animal—than what it is. Other descriptors that are often associated with minerality include wet stones, smoky, oyster shell, struck match, salty, iodine. As Parr et al. (2013) point out, the term has also become, for many, an indicator of quality.