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The taste of terroir

The taste of terroir

As important for water as it is for wine

Where is your tap water from?

Oenophiles have long appreciated the importance of terroir in the creation of their favourite wines. The influence of climate, soil and topography imparts a unique, highly distinctive “sense of place” in grapes from different regions – even different parts of the same vineyard.

What many don’t realise is that terroir is just as important for the water that’s served alongside the wine. A water’s character will depend on the site of its source and the aquifer, the porous rock through which the water trickles.

In Auckland 80% of our tap water comes from dams in the Hunua and Waitakere Ranges. Pour yourself a glass and you may be able to detect a hint of volcanic basalt, alluvial native forests and pines, with perhaps a dash of earthy sedimentation from the Waikato River.

The knowledge that terroir influences the taste of water is far from a radical new idea. The ancient Romans were as discerning about water as they were about wine, judging the water from each of their aqueducts by transparency and taste. They also imported “bottled” water at vast expense. Travellers between Florence and Bologna would refresh themselves at the Acqua Panna spring, renowned for the delicate purity of its water.

Centuries later, that spring is the source of Acqua Panna mineral water. Originating in the peaks of the Apennine Mountains, water filters into the ground on Monte Gazzaro. After travelling for 10 to 15 years through the Tuscan hills, it comes to the surface at an altitude of 900 metres, in a natural reserve filled with ancient forests of beech and chestnut trees. During its journey, water from the source is filtered and purified as it flows through sandstone deposits, while bicarbonates, calcium and phosphates are gradually added in equal amounts.

This unique terroir is reflected in Acqua Panna’s perfectly balanced, limpid, light-bodied taste and smooth, velvety mouth feel.

S.Pellegrino is another special water displaying the characteristics of the region it comes from, with the source located deep in the Orobie Alps. In the Middle Ages, the water was renowned for promoting health and wellbeing. Today, S.Pellegrino water tastes just the same as it did centuries ago, and has become a symbol of all that is Italian. It flows in the artesian basin for about 30 years, with naturally occurring carbon dioxide added at the end of the cycle. The now sparkling water emerges at the spring in Val Brembana, in the foothills of the Alps.

S.Pellegrino water has lively and long-lived bubbles that feel creamy on the palate. The slightly salty taste is well-balanced with acidity, and the rich minerality delivers a refreshing, thirst-quenching feel. Significant amounts of naturally imbued magnesium make it an excellent table water.

With the unique characteristics of both mineral waters, Acqua Panna and S.Pellegrino protect their natural environments – and are committed to the sustainable use of each water resource. This ensures that their pristine purity is preserved.

Matching a water’s terroir to your personal taste:

Thanks to their unique organoleptic properties, specific mineral content and refined taste, Acqua Panna and S.Pellegrino enhance the enjoyment of good food and wine.

• Make sure the mineral water comes from a natural spring.

• Check the chemical properties on the label. Higher levels of calcium and bicarbonate can give water a softer, creamier mouth feel.

• Consider the menu. Neil Philips, UK ambassador for S.Pellegrino and Acqua Panna, recommends drinking S.Pellegrino with “big, full-flavoured dishes” such as beef or game, or strong cheese like Parmigiano-Reggiano. Acqua Panna’s gentler, non-carbonated qualities suit more elegant flavours such as oysters, creamy pasta, veal and light desserts.

• Select the right water for the wine it will be accompanying. The official water of the Association de la Sommellerie Internationale, Acqua Panna should be served with soft wine with moderate alcohol. High mineral sparkling waters such as S.Pellegrino complement spicy Syrahs and other full-bodied red wines.

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