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Richard Selley Geology and Wine Part 1

This show was published 23 March 2007


Richard Selley is a Professor of Geology and a Senior Research Fellow at Imperial College, London. He explains how the different soil and rock types affect the vines that are grown on them.

The climate controls the soil together with the rocks beneath it. The two key features of rocks in relation to vine growing are their porosity and permeability. Permeability is simply the ability of rocks to pass water! Porosity is the ability to hold water??

Different soil types include clay, limestone and chalk. Clay is highly porous and can get waterlogged (lacks permeability). While vines like some moisture the roots don't like to get waterlogged. Limestone on the other hand is hard and very brittle allowing the vines to get their roots down the fractures of the rocks to get water. Chalk is fractured so is always well drained. It is very light compared to limestone with 40% holes (good micro-porosity vs limestone). It allows the roots to go a long way down to get to the water table to draw up moisture.

3 types of rocks
1. Igneus rocks form from molten material or magna, e.g. granite.
2. Sedimentary rocks which form by rocks weathered by wind and rain the detritus is eroded and deposits mud, sand and lime.
3. Metamorphic rocks - rocks that undergo change, usually becuase of pressure or high tempeture.


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The music used for the UK Wine Show is Griffes de Jingle 1 by Marcel de la Jartèle and Silence by Etoile Noire.

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