A trip to Alsace

Just a week after returning from Santorini, I was waking up to a very different view from the bedroom window – green, misty and with a touch of frost on the ground, the Vosges mountain range in the background rising over an Alsace village, Villé to be precise. Another beautiful European wine region, but so, so, different.villeIn fact the Alsace vineyards could hardly be more different, with neat rows of lush vines in fertile soil, just starting to take on autumnal colours. When you see how different the regions are, it seems almost incomprehensible that both Alsace and Santorini are capable of producing good wine. But they are, and do.alsace-vinesAs in my last post on Santorini, I am not going to attempt anything too systematic here. In Alsace I tasted over 120 wines and visited nine producers, but I am just going to mention two of the most memorable visits – the one that stood out at the time when I experienced them.

Domaine Xavier Wymann, Ribeauvillé

wymann

We were welcomed warmly, and treated to a tasting by Madame Schaeringer. She is the wife of Jean-Luc (both pictured here), who took over the company from his uncle in 1996.

The wines that impressed me most were a couple of Rieslings, Steinacker de Ribeauvillé 2014 and A mon grand-père 2013, and the Equilibre Pinot Gris 2014. What I liked about all the wines, and these in particular, was the understated elegance and complexity, the Rieslings already seeming to show hints of maturity. And very reasonable prices, each of my favourite three wines coming in under €10.

We said hello to Jean-Luc as he packed our order, and had a quick look round the winemaking room where fermentation was in full swing in most of the tanks. Incidentally we had already had a discussion with Madame (I really must learn to be a better journalist and get names), who was keen to improve her already excellent English and amongst other things learn the correct terms for the various winemaking vessels. We reached an uncertain consensus that rectangular stainless steel ones were probably best called tanks. I was also interested to see a bucket – if that is the right term, as I think this was rectangular too – of warm liquid yeast culture, ready to be used in the next batch of must.  Didn’t realise it was done like that.

Oh, and along with our order we were slipped an additional bottle, which was drunk with our evening meal. I also enjoyed that one a lot. On the label was Minori, Rizling, Ribo’bulles. Make of that what you will. I think it was a pét-nat. In other words, a wine with a slight sparkle created by bottling before the fermentation had completely stopped. No sulphur and, as evidenced by the cloudiness, no filtration,. It reminded me of apple pie, complete with cinnamon, pastry and cream. Different, interesting, and good.

Domaine Ernest Burn, Gueberschwihr

I had never encountered Xavier Wymann wines before, and as far as I know they are not available in the UK . Ernest Burn was a little more familiar, but until I visited I did not know what strength in breadth they had.

Here was a very different tasting experience. No intimate tasting room, nor chatting about tanks and Brexit. There was a large area with several tables, surrounded by foudres, and no one representing Ernest Burn at our table as our host was mainly occupied with other people. But we had a very generous tasting, where bottles were just brought to the table with minimum introduction, and we were trusted to pour for ourselves. It is nice to hear what a producer has to say, but there are also advantages to being left to your own devices, as it is easier to concentrate on what is in the glass.

The number of different wines produced was a lot larger than Wymann, so we focussed more – on the cuvées from Clos Saint-Imer, in the Grand Cru of Goldert. They all looked enticingly golden in their clear glass bottles. Was it a deliberate marketing decision to play on the golden colour of the wine and the name of the Grand Cru?

burnSo many of these wines were of excellent quality, and together they made for a wonderful tasting. VTs and SGNs apart, all the Clos Saint-Imer wines were €18, which I thought represented good value. I don’t want to mention them all, but for me the Pinot Gris 2007 particularly stood out. In fact, if I were to nominate a Wine of the Trip that would probably be it. Intense, mature, spicy. Off dry but with high balancing acidity, so overall it left the mouth with a refreshing tingly feeling. Wonderful stuff.

Minerality in wine update

The discussion, or debate as many would like to see it, about minerality has moved on tahconsiderably since my post on the subject back in 2012, as evidenced by the Institute of Masters of Wine seminar about a month ago, which has been particularly well reported by Emma Symmington. The term is still abused, often in marketing, and there are still those who will gleefully rant against those abuses, but there seems to be more of a consensus developing amongst those who have given the term serious thought. If I may presume to represent that more serious thinking for a moment, let me attempt to summarise the consensus.

santorini-mineralityThere are at least two scientific meanings for the word mineral, which often get conflated and confused. As far as the geologist is concerned a mineral is a naturally occurring chemical compound, and rocks are agglomerations of different minerals. However, in plant biology, minerals (shorthand for mineral nutrients) are ions that are taken up from soil by the roots, e.g. nitrates and magnesium ions. The naïve interpretation of minerality in wine is that compounds from the rocks underneath the vineyard get taken up by the roots of vines, and finish up in the grapes, where they contribute directly to the flavour of the wine. Thus vines on chalky soils result in chalky wines. This is wrong for a number of reasons… Firstly, the vast majority of rocky minerals do not taste of anything. Secondly, the ion minerals in the soil do not principally originate from the chemical compounds in the rocks. Thirdly, plants tend to take in what they need of each mineral and then stop, so high soil mineral contents are not reflected in the vines and grapes. Finally, in the concentrations found in grapes, the minerals are below our taste detection thresholds. Rocks and minerals might have indirect influences on wine flavour, by affecting vineyard drainage for example, but it would stretch my credulity to breaking point if someone suggested that those influences lead to wines that taste of the rocks in the soil.

mineralsI hope there is nothing too controversial in the above, because I would now like to set it aside and move along to say that even if minerality in wine has little physical or chemical basis, it can still be used as a metaphor. That, I think, is the broad consensus view on minerality, and an excellent basis to take the discussion forward.

Metaphors can be beautiful, evocative and poetic, and if that is what you want in a tasting note who am I to argue? But tasting notes are also used to communicate. Person A experiences a wine and tries to describe those experiences in a tasting note. Person B reads that note, and imagines what the wine must taste like, perhaps to help with a buying decision. How good are metaphors in general  for this sort of communication?

When we say a wine has pear drop notes, we of course don’t mean it contains pear drops – it just tastes like pear drops, which is arguably a very straightforward simile rather than a metaphor. If we don’t understand what it means, we can suck on a pear drop. What is more, even if the wine does not contain pear drops, it probably does contains isoamyl acetate and ethyl acetate, which also contribute to the flavour of pear drops.  This is similar to how quite a number of wine descriptors function, and in those cases it seems to me that the chances of good communications are relatively good.

But when we say that a wine has good minerality, how does that work in communication? To communicate in the way I described above, the writer and the reader must have a common understating of the term. Many wine geeks say they understand exactly what it means, but the problem is that there are many different understandings, and very diverse ones at that. From comments in various wine forums, I note that for some it is an aroma, for others a taste or a texture sensed in the mouth. Clark Smith in his book Postmodern Winemaking is a bit left field in describing it as “an energetic buzz in the wine’s finish, almost like an electrical current running through the throat.” Personally, I use it for a positive aspects of a wine that are neither vegetal nor animal – often for a certain something that is very closely related to acidity and sulphur. This lack of common understanding was also commented on by the participants at the minerality seminar mentioned above, and nicely illustrated by the graph in Emma’s report. As she writes, “So if a group of MWs can’t agree on what minerality is, means, or tastes like – what hope do consumers have?”

I conclude simply by suggesting that the term minerality does not work well in communicating what wines taste like. I would hate to dictate what descriptors may and may not be used in tasting notes, as communication according to my definition is not everything. But isn’t it an important factor? You decide.

Josmeyer Mise du Printemps – Alsace Pinot Blanc

mise-du-pintempsSo often, wine conforms to expectation – perhaps that is simply what the wine is like, or maybe that we can be too blinkered. But sometimes our expectations are given a jolt. Pinot Blanc is at best neutral and refreshing, right? Merely an inexpensive food-friendly wine? Well, no, not always. With memory jogged by my tasting note database, I can think of as many as… let me see… four exceptions from personal experience: Kuentz-Bas 2004 (appley and floral), the English wine Stopham Estate 2013 (gooseberry and herbs), Weinbach Réserve 2008 (for all the world like a botrytised Pinot Gris), and finally, the subject of this blog post.

The full name on the label is a bit of a mouthful, and it is difficult to know the intended order of reading, but it is perhaps Josmeyer, Mise de Printemps, Vu par Isabelle, Le Pinot Blanc, with the appellation of plain Alsace. Prices in the UK seem to vary from £12 to £22, which IMO is the difference between excellent value and barely worth it.

I have tried the 2014 and 2015, both within a year of their release. My brief tasting note for the 2014 indicated medium acid, dry, intense, citric, with fennel seed and mushroom. For the 2015… Pale greeny gold. Intense on the nose. Sharp fresh apricot. Orange and lime. Primary, but complex and mouth-watering. High acidity and dry. Palate aromatics as nose. Hugely powerful and intense, and exceedingly long. Someone else said savoury and meaty, and I could just about understand that, but doubt I would have come up with it unprompted. Drink now I think, but it might be interesting to see how it ages. A lot better in my opinion at a coldish fridge temperature than when allowed to warm a little in the bottle *****

Winenous’ fables #1: The Naoussa and the Burgundy

On the face of it, this is a simple story of two tasting notes, linked only by the wines’ having been tasted and drunk within a couple of days of each other. But there is a sting in the tail, and a moral.

Naoussa PDO, Greece, 2011
Medium pale tawny garnet. Nose: Intense. Dark fruit with a slight caramel nature. Mature notes. High-toned with violets. Rose. Herby, vegetal and savoury. Edgy licorice. Complex. Very attractive. Palate: Medium high acidity. Medium high astringency. Coarse in a good way – like a thin paste, or fine coffee grounds. As nose, but with more emphasis on the high-toned aspect. And something more savoury or meaty – crispy bits on the side of a roast. All in balance. Elegant, and not hugely intense on the palate. Excellent length. Refreshing, savoury, slightly bitter finish. Not a stunning wine that whacks you round the face, but it hits the spot. Drink now in my book, but good for another 5 years at least. Great with steak, also with Middle Eastern food. Also tried the day after opening, and it had not changed much ******

Premier Cru Burgundy, 2000
Nose: Pale tawny garnet. Huge nose, but rather too oaky for my liking. Warming, complex. Mature Burgundy lurking there somewhere. Palate: Medium high acidity. Smooth, gentle, ethereal. Merest hint of astringency. Oaky, yes, but the fruit comes through more on the palate. As mentioned before, warm, complex and mature. Still good Pinot fruit though, with delicate fragrance. Excellent length, with refreshing fruity finish. Oak got more obtrusive on the palate as the wine warmed throughout the evening. Drink now *****

So, two wines that I liked a lot, though I definitely preferred the Naoussa, produced by Boutari, which was the cheaper wine. I gave it my maximum score, which might seem over-the-top, but I reached the same conclusion on two occasions. I bought the Boutari Naoussa earlier this year from Booth’s Supermarket, when there was a 2 for 3 offer and 5% half-case discount, for £6.97. Full price was £11.00.

The Burgundy was considerably more expensive. In 2007 when I bought it, The Wine Society said its conservative market value was £75, but I got a 25% discount on that as I bought it in a mixed case, so I paid £56.25. Looking back on my tasting note, I wonder if my score was on the high side, as a result of being influenced by the high price. But despite its oakiness, I did think it was very classy and elegant.

But the scores not being reflected in that price difference is not the sting in the tail: a price difference of a different order of magnitude was the culprit. The Burgundy was Armand Rousseau’s Gevrey-Chambertin 1er Cru Clos St Jacques and I checked current price on Wine-Searcher (after writing my tasting note). The asking price from the only listed UK merchant selling 75cl bottles was £640 (SIX HUNDRED AND FORTY QUID). That’s over 10 times what I paid for it, and about 100 (ONE HUNDRED) times the price of the Naoussa. And the bottle price of £640 might be regarded as a bargain, as another merchant was wanting £1,928 for a magnum.

burgundy naoussaAnd the moral? Well there are actually a number that spring to mind. The first one that occurred to me was “if you are going to check the current market price of a decent wine made by a famous name, do it BEFORE you open the bottle”. On later reflection the most screamingly obvious ones were “buying decent Burgundy is now a mugs’ game”, and “the Boutari Naoussa is a great wine that you really need to try”. I am sure there are also deeper morals lurking, on the subjects of price, value and quality, but I’ll let you figure them out for yourself. And feel free, if you must, to moralise about my plebeian taste – I can take it.

Why four’s the aroma limit

four aromas

I recently had an article published in Circle Update (the magazine of the Circle of Wine Writers). It concerned the number of aromas used in wine tasting notes. If you are interested you can view and download a PDF offprint of the article here: Why four’s the limit.

It draws heavily on a four-part series of blog posts I wrote late last year. Compared with the Circle Update article, these contain more words – not necessarily a good thing – but also, in “the science” post, there is considerably more information about the scientific basis for the notional limit of only four aromas being identifiable in blends.
How many identifiable aromas in a wine – the dilemma
How many identifiable aromas in a wine – the science
How many identifiable aromas in a wine – tasting experience
How many identifiable aromas in a wine – my conclusion

Tsantali Rapsani – straight, Reserve and Grande Reserve

tsantali rapsani
Let me start by disclosing that the Reserve and Grande Reserve wines were samples sent to me following a press trip to Northern Greece. More about the Rapsani part of that trip can be found here, including vine locations, varieties used etc. The straight Rapsani was bought with my own money in the UK – because on the trip I liked it a lot, and thought it represented good value for money. At the time I paid £10, but I see it is available cheaper now. You can get it from Amazon, Agora and Evington’s. As far as I know, the Reserve and Grande Reserve are not available in the UK, but I would guess their retail prices would be around £16 and £29 respectively.

I was taking the wines to Hawksmoor Manchester to use their Monday BYO offer, and double decanted them two hours or so before arriving, straight from my 12ºC wine fridges. As it turned out, there was hardly any sediment to remove. A few minutes after the decant, I tasted them. It was a hot day, so the wine had probably warmed up a couple of degrees before tasting.

Rapsani, 2012, 13.0%
Medium pale garnet.  Intense and very attractive nose. Fresh aromatic spices. Slightly mature red fruit. Medium acid. Supple and fruity. Medium high tannin. Intense aromatically on palate. Soft, rounded and gentle fruitiness, despite the tannin. Excellent length. Drink now, but no hurry *****

Rapsani Reserve, 2011, 13.5%
Medium pale, more ruby than garnet. Aromatic spices on nose. Tight. Blackcurrant with hard edge. Medium acid. High tannin. Intense on palate. Hard, but with icing-sugar-like sweetness. Excellent length. Good now, but would benefit from 5 years or so ****

Rapsani Grande Reserve, 2008, 13.5%
Very similar characteristics to the Reserve, but with even more aromatic intensity. A definite step up in quality. Potential is easier to imagine than with the Reserve, and it is a better drink now ****

As the wines warmed up in the restaurant I enjoyed them less. They all became more soupy, the Reserve wine became obtrusively oaky, and the Grande Reserve even more obtrusively oaky. However, my order of preference remained the same: straight Rapsani, Grande Reserve, Reserve. But that was just me – other people I was with who expressed a preference liked the Reserve best. I hasten to stress that my scores and preferences were for the wines as they showed on the night. The straight Rapsani was great for drinking now, but I did think that the Grande Reserve in particular had good potential.

The practical conclusion for me is that, when I can find more storage space (I have just returned from Germany, Alsace and Champage with more than 8 cases), I should buy more of the straight Rapsani – and drink it slightly chilled.

COS Pithos Rosso 2011

pithos_rosso_2011Made in the Cerasuolo di Vittoria region in Sicily, this has the correct grape varieties – Nero d’Avola and Frappato – to be called Cerasuolo di Vittoria DOC were it not for the winemaking. What is wrong with the winemaking? Well, there’s nothing actually wrong, but it’s made in large clay vessels that are often called amphoras. After fermentation the wines remain in amphora for several months until bottling. See here for more about the producer and the winemaking, and here for note on earlier vintages of Pithos Rosso.

Note that the label design has changed since those vintages, and it changed again for the 2012, which also has the new designation Vittoria Rosso DOC. If you’re trying to find this wine on your wine merchant’s shelf, it is the words Pithos Rosso on a squat-shaped bottle that you need to look out for.

This is a wine that I have drunk many bottles of, from several different vintages, and it never fails to impress me. A recent bottle of the 2011 seemed particularly good, and that is what persuaded me to put fingers to keyboard on this occasion. If you understand what I like in this wine, I think you will have gone a long way towards knowing how my vinous mind works.

Here’s the tasting note for my recently drunk 2011, pictured above… Pale garnet ruby. On the nose, intense, delicate, fragrant, soft cherry, spice and herb complexity. High acidity. Medium low tannin. Aromas as on the nose, though the cherry aromas seem more vibrant with the acidity. Excellent length. A green note that reminds me of shelling broad beans – also on the nose now – nothing negative about this. Sweet red fruit now I am more accustomed to the acidity, which does not seem so stark after a few sips. Drink now I think. There’s a lot of enjoyment here. Can it really get better? Tossing up between 5 and 6 stars, I’ll go for ******

To try to put into words the aspects of this wine that I like so much, I think it is the delicate complexity of the fruit, spice and herb notes. It is almost as if this is a wine mature before its time – in a good way that is. In fact, I would say it is mature in the best possible way as far as I am concerned, as there is absolutely no tendency towards oxidation. Good acidity is also important – I like my wines to be refreshing and food friendly. Combine that with a price tag of around £20 and good availability, and it is a winner for me.

Prince Ştirbey Feteascǎ Regalǎ 2007

stribey feteasca regalaFirstly, let me apologise. I honestly thought I had blogged about this before. But I didn’t, and now it is probably too late to find any for sale however hard you look. So the best I can do is to encourage you to be adventurous in your wine drinking, and find other gems like this. Oddbins sell the 2013, so that might be a good place to start, but I have not tried that vintage yet.

Over a few years I have bought at least two cases of this from The Daily Drinker, at prices that I think varied between £9.00 (on special offer) and £14.00. The producer is Prince Ştirbey, the grape Fetească Regală, it’s from the Dealurile Olteniei region of Romania, 2007 vintage, and 13.5% ABV. It’s a limited edition of 2,400 bottles – 200 cases or 8 barriques – So I am responsible for the consumption of a small but significant percentage of the entire vintage!

There are a few Fetească grape varieties, which seem to be named in the old-school tradition of anthropomorphic wine description, Fetească meaning young girl. Fetească Regală is a royal young girl, and makes white wine. You may also come across Fetească Albă, which is a parent of the young princess grape, and means white young girl. Then there is the black grape Fetească Neagră – you guessed it – she is black.

Ever since I started drinking this wine in 2012, I have noticed bottle variation, but the bad ones were never that bad, and the good ones were excellent. Checking my notes, it seems that I only recorded the better bottles, and the last one was particularly stunning – the sort of experience that makes me wonder why I ever bother with white Burgundy. All my notes seem very much to describe the same wine, so I shall combine them – the net result of which contains a few more descriptors than normal for me.

Medium gold. Intense and complex nose. Seville orange peel, sweet lemon, and fresh apricot. Perhaps a little oxidation, but nothing to worry about. For one bottle I noted honeysuckle, and perhaps Turkish delight. On the palate it is on the high side of medium acidity, dry, and with a hint of astringency. Intense aromatically, generally reflecting what was observed on the nose, but also incense-type notes as it warms in the glass. With the most recent bottle, Sherry, or cherry brandy. Excellent length, with spicy finish that has a liquorice edge. Drink now I think – some bottles are wonderful now, but others have seen better days *****

Montesquiou Terre de France 2014

montesq terre de franceThe label is rather impressive, but was it designed especially for what seems to be a one-off wine, I wonder? Or is it Domaine Montesquiou’s generic label for any wine not in its normal range? The official EU label with all the required information is of course on the back of the bottle: Vin de France (what used to be called table wine), 2014, and 14.5%, but still little clue about the contents.

According to Leon Stolarski’s website, where you can find more information and currently buy bottles of it, the wine is 65% Gros Manseng, 30% Petit Manseng, and 5% Camaralet. That is the same blend as Montesquiou’s Cuvade Préciouse – a Jurançon Sec – the difference being that for this wine the fermentation stuck with too much residual sugar to call it sec, and the decision was taken to bottle the wine as it was, rather than restart the fermentation.

It is not something that easily slots into a neat category, and as such it took be some time to figure out my reaction. But as I drank, I got to like it more and more. Here’s my tasting note: Medium pale amber gold colour. Big on the nose. Lime marmalade, or maybe a combination of lime fruit and “normal” marmalade. Possibly a hint of petrol, and some green vegetable, though not in a negative way. Sweet ripe fruit, apricot maybe. My wife thought honey. All in all, the evidence seems to suggest some botrytis. Certainly there was a lot of interest on the nose. On the palate, initially an impression of medium low acidity. Off dry and full bodied. Slightly bitter. Feels like it should be astringent, but isn’t. Excellent length. Seems more acidic on the finish, so now I’m confused a bit – probably actually higher acidity than I thought at first – medium high perhaps? Overall the effect is bracing, despite the sweetness. Weird but I think I like it. No, I do like it, a lot. Difficult to rate, but I think *****

Would I buy more? Possibly. My main reason for hesitation is wondering when I would like to drink it. I had my bottle with Middle-Eastern meze. It wasn’t bad in that context, but neither food nor wine particularly lifted the other. The overall profile reminds me a little of rich Alsace wines, so maybe pork would be the obvious match. It would stand up well to creamy sauces too.

So, well done Leon for importing this. Nearly forgot to mention it costs £11.95, and at that price it is certainly worth trying a bottle. I have enjoyed earlier vintages of the dry Cuvade Préciouse too, so you might like to get some of that at the same time.

How many identifiable aromas in a wine – my conclusion

I have now done enough scene-setting and pussyfooting around: see my previous three blog posts (in chronological order 1, 2, 3). It’s time for me to nail my colours to the mast and say what I really think about tasting notes that mention many different aromas when science tells us we can only identify four in a mixture.

Jan_Brueghel_I_&_Peter_Paul_Rubens_-_Smell_(Museo_del_Prado)First of all, I cannot find any particular problem with the scientific evidence for our poor ability to identify aromas in a mixture, and I see no reason to doubt its applicability to wine. If anything I would expect it to be an easier task to identify aromas in the experimental situation than with wine, as in the experiment there were always subsets of the same 7 or 8 odours, as opposed to the much larger number that people find in wines.

There is a lingering doubt in my mind because the experiments presented odours only to the nose. With wine however, aromas are also detected when it is in the mouth. Does that cause a greater number of aromas to be detected in total? My personal experience suggests that happens only very occasionally, and to a small extent. However, in the tasting note example I gave in the introductory blog post for this small series, the aromas detected on the nose and palate are markedly different. I may return to this issue in the future, but my initial feeling is to go with my personal experience. And what about letting a wine develop over a few hours or days? Does that let additional aromas develop and become identifiable? It is possible, but again in my experience it is rarely the case.

I acknowledge that there is also experimental evidence that it is possible to tell if a single very familiar odour is present in mixture containing up to 12 odourants. Additionally there is anecdotal evidence of perfumers and chefs being able to detect single missing ingredients in complex familiar recipes. But these tasks are very different to identifying aromas in an unfamiliar wine.

For now, let us take the identification of an odour object in a wine literally, by which I mean that identification means there are key aromatic compounds in both the wine and the actual odour object. With this literal interpretation, I think it is fair to say that the limit of four correct identifications will apply. Indeed, the experiments suggest that even with fewer named aromas it is unlikely they will all be correct.

The literal interpretation of aromas I have just described is not totally unreasonable. Certainly in some cases it seems that the same chemical is responsible for the aroma in both the wine and the real aroma object. Rotundone, which is found in black pepper and Syrah, is one example. However, aroma objects mentioned in the tasting note may merely be reminiscent of the real thing. Or, as some less kind people might put it: imagined or made up. In these cases, there can clearly be no limit of the number of identifiable aroma objects, but by what criteria can we judge the value of such lists?

For me, the main criterion for a successful tasting note is its ability to communicate the experience of drinking the wine to the reader. And here I mean to communicate accurately; not just to give an impression of what the experience might hypothetically be.  When I am tasting, the correspondence with tasting notes independently written by others is usually minimal. I have seen no formal studies into how common this experience is, but we can also get hints by comparing tasting notes of the same wine written by different people. Usually there is little similarity, and sometimes the differences are huge. It is interesting to speculate about to what extent the differences are due to the subjective nature of taste, and to what extent it is imperfect communication; but differences there are.

Speaking personally, the tasting notes I find communicate best are those where the aromas listed are few and vaguely described. For example, it can often be accurate, and still helpful, to identify citrus fruit in a wine. But when someone else describes a wine as tasting of lemon, I often decide it is closer to lime. And does anyone actually care? It is difficult to imagine a disgruntled customer returning a bottle of wine to a shop because the type of citrus fruit was incorrectly described on purchase. The precision of description is linked the issue of the number of aromas: one person’s citric could be another’s lemon, lime and clementine. The level of detail we use in tasting notes is another interesting topic to which I might return.

In summary, as promised, here are my colours on the mast stated with an unjustified sense of certainty. There are two reasons why I am suspicious of tasting notes with a long list of aroma objects:

  1. If you take a more literal interpretation of aromas in tasting notes, it is impossible to produce correct lists containing more than four aroma objects .
  2. I am not convinced about how useful long lists are anyway. I favour a shorter tasting note that contains only the dominant aromatic components, and one that is not over-specific in its aroma descriptors.

In the words of Carveth Read: It is better to be vaguely right than exactly wrong.