Friday, October 18, 2013

The less said...

A little while back, when a lady-winemaker friend related to me the angst she experienced when having to write tasting notes for each new vintage she released, I started thinking about tasting notes in general.  Over the years I've read some tasting notes that were so silly that they made me laugh out loud, (and not just the poorly translated notes on Eastern European wine bottles).  I commiserate with winemakers who struggle to come up with something original, pertinent and easily understood by the consumer, and have to do it vintage, after vintage.  Even at TWWIAGE the tasting notes are often repetitions of previous vintages - especially when describing a growing season's weather conditions which, to be honest, are not dramatically different one year from the next in the Napa Valley.  Sure, there have been notably cooler and wetter vintages, e.g. 1998 and 2011, but generally speaking the climate here is pretty consistent when it comes to growing wine grapes.
Recently I bought a bottle of wine simply because the tasting notes made me chortle.  The Arrow & Branch, 2012 Sauvignon blanc, Napa Valley was not an inexpensive bottle of wine.  At $35 it was more than I would normally pay for a Sauvignon blanc, as my go-to Sauvignon blanc retails for under $20.  Furthermore, if one happened to be in the market for Sauvignon blanc grapes in 2012, the average price per ton was $1800, so it irks me a tad that Arrow & Branch charge nearly twice as much for their product as some other wineries.  But still, I was curious as to how a $35 Sauvignon blanc tasted.
If the tasting notes for this wine are to be believed, this tipple is an alchemistic-combo of most Sauvignon blanc styles from around the globe; "stone and flint" (from the Loire, maybe?); "grapefruit peel" (New Zealand, anyone?); "new apricots, ripe nectarine" (California, perhaps?)...I'd have been happy with just one style.  The winemaker, Jennifer Williams, claims this wine is "un-muddled and well-delineated", but it succeeded in leaving me a little befuddled.  I liked the wine a little bit more than Vinomaker did: for him there was a component he didn't quite care for, but couldn't quite identify from in amongst the hodge-podge of flavours.  We were both thrown off by the "hints of bouillon" (pass me the gravy boat, please) and the "ground coriander" descriptor had me digging through my spice rack for a quick snort of the aforementioned herb, (I actually did agree with this last element, after initially dismissing it merely as floral).
I am sure there is an art to composing tasting notes, I know I certainly don't possess this particular skill, but I if I was in the business of writing tasting notes, I'd like to think I'd keep the lyric-waxing to a minimum.  Often, less is more.


Dennis Tsiorbas said...

Vinogirl, well said!
Sometimes I read the notes on the label and wonder what planet I'm on!
Oh, I think you are an amazing reviewer!

Thud said...

I'm pretty much done on "tastes like wine" anything else is just fluff.

Dennis Tsiorbas said...

Thud, recommends "Wine by Thula", it looks, smell, and tastes good 8-)

Vinogirl said...

NHW: Thank you, but my 'reviews' are pretty simple affairs: it usually simply boils down to whether or not I'd drink a full glass of the stuff!

Thud: I'd add 'fresh and unflawed.' But basically, yes.

Thud said...

Dennis, I bow to those with a more sensitive palate and a more articulate turn of phrase, I do like a good glass of wine though, even a bad one on occasion!