Terroir was originally a French term in wine, coffee and tea used to denote the special characteristics that geography bestowed upon particular varieties. Agricultural sites in the same region share similar soil, weather conditions, and farming techniques, which all contribute to the unique qualities of the crop. It can be very loosely translated as “a sense of place,” which is embodied in certain characteristic qualities, the sum of the effects that the local environment has had on the manufacture of the product.
The maple syrup that we make tastes different from maple syrup made across the state or in Vermont. We can pick ours out in a blind taste test. It’s got a subtle flavor that is all our own, which is very cool. Also, yummy. It doesn’t seem to matter the grade of the syrup, how dark it is, in other words, the flavor is definitely there.
What is even more interesting is that Ella Mae’s milk has that very same flavor, and it’s coming through in the cheese that I’m making. How cool is that?
I sort of only understood terroir in a very abstract way, and thought it only applied to wine, really.
I don’t taste it in the meat we produce, nor the mushrooms that we forage. I think it’s too subtle for that. But yogurt sweetened with maple syrup or honey really emphasizes that special flavor quite nicely.
I’m still experimenting with cheese making. I haven’t found something yet that screams “this is the one”! I’m thinking, though, that something on the slightly sweet side might be the direction I’m leaning. I’m going to try aging some in some of our bee’s wax to see what that does.