I'm Going to Whine a Bit Here...

I was at my favorite Sumner restaurant last month with James and I partook of their $5 wine tasting they have on Wednesday nights, or was it a Thursday nights, I forget.  Sorci's is a hole-in-the-wall Italian restaurant that has great food.  The owner is a wine afficianado and loves to have wine tastings and actually has a huge collection to select from, considering the tiny size of the place.  So this particular Wednesday, or Thursday, his offering was from his sweeter wine selections.  I love sweet wines, so this particular tasting was a go for me.

It was a lovely evening sitting at their antique marble bar (their other 5 tables were full, so we had to sit at the bar that night) enjoying our food and my sweet little tastings. While waiting for our food, I started reading some of the descriptions of the wines that were laying around in various holders there on the bar.  One hit me as particularly hilarious.  I dug in my purse and grabbed my business card and started scribbling the notation down so I would have it for later blogging.  I couldn't pass up the description for the 2007 Catena Malbec.

A sleek, polished style, with alluring mocha and raspberry ganache notes leading the way, backed by dark plum, hoisin sauce and graphite flavors that push through the finish. This has serious weight, but stays focused and driven.  (I didn't make up this punctuation - truly.)

What in the heck does that mean?!!??  Graphite?  Hoisin sauce?  I'm thinking that the vintners were sipping a little too much of the product before creating their little wine-blurb.  Answer me this: how does a wine stay focused and driven?  What does graphite taste like?  Did they throw in some pencils and left over sauce from their lunchtime chinese takeout?

It got me thinking about other descriptors and decided to go do some research.  Here are a few of my favorites that I found off of the Wine Library web site.

2006 Perrin Christins Vacqueyras - Very racy, with lots of red and black currant fruit backed by a great graphite spine. Offers nice hints of licorice, spice and iron on the finish.  Iron?  Graphite spine?

2008 Keller Klaus Westhofen Kirchspiel Riesling Trocken - ...On the palate the wine is deep, full-bodied and very, very pure and seamless, with a rock solid core of fruit, bright acids, superb focus and a classic shape on the very long, racy and laser-like finish. Just a superb bottle in the making.

2005 L'arlot Les Suchots Vosne Romanee - Deep, bright red. Sexy aromas and flavors of bitter cherry, redcurrant, minerals, cocoa powder and flowers. Lush and sweet, with a texture of liquid velvet. Boasts wonderful subtle depth and explosive inner-mouth perfume. A wine of great class and finesse, but also has the strength for a brilliant evolution in bottle. This stains the palate with perfume in a way that just about no pinot made outside Burgundy can imitate.  My palate will be stained; oh dear. I wonder if that will ruin me for other wines in the future; though I would like to find out what liquid velvet tastes like.

2006 Chateau Pape Clement - The dense purple-colored 2006 boasts an extraordinary perfume of lead pencil shavings, creme de cassis, burning embers, and a sensation that can only be described as like walking through a damp forest on a hot, humid day...  Lead pencil shavings?  Burning embers?  Oh,  the walk through the forest sounds nice, unless of course, you're near a marsh with skunk cabbage, or you are in close proximity of some rutting elk; then not so much.

I'm sure there's some wine afficiando out there somewhere who could tell me that some of these words are really important.  There is probably some secret de-coder ring that other wine nuts know about, telling one exactly what to expect from the wine.  But hey, I'm not a wine afficiando.  They sound just plain weird to me.


Carolyn said...

There are people who actually make a career -- or at least accomplish a nice side income -- by writing wine descriptions. Napa Valley holds a 3-day symposium for professional wine writers.

Sip and write. What a life!

Kate said...

Okay, I am laughing out loud! This is like something you'd hear in a comedy club. I am a wine lover too, and have never understood the descriptions either, to my eternal secret shame :-)

Things like "It had the smell of lead pencil shavings" Huh? That's classic. The writer definitely had one too many sips of the product when coming up with that one.

Great post.

Anonymous said...

Well, that's the very same reason I started 3 years ago our Blog, La Casa de Antociano (Antociano's House).
That kind of vocabulary drives away the beginners interested in the wine world.
I wrote about a tasting note that remarks the wine as "dangerous". Say what!?

Kat said...

Post some others you think are interesting (i.e. funny). When I got looking at some on various wine sites - oh man! I think I can smell the snobbery from here.