Shurely Shome Mishtake, Vicar

I was preparing to present some Pinot Noirs at a tasting last week, and also thinking about how we describe wine. I found a very long list of scents and flavours which were said to have been noted in Pinot. I wrote some of them out, but dismissed a fair number as implausible, and then read out the list at the start of the tasting just to get people in the mood.

Imagine my surprise when three people - at two different tables - said that one wine smelt like Sauvignon Blanc (this flavour/scent was not on the list).

I don't really have anything to say about this, I just want to share my bamboozlement with you.


Exploding Plums and Chocolate Shrapnel

This time it's Colomé Estate ('04, cork). A big, dark, plummy blend of two thirds Malbec, a fifth Cabernet Sauvignon, and some Tannat from the Salta province of Northern Argentina. I was impressed by its claim to be from "The highest vineyard in the World", but Puddleglum assures me that all Argentinian wines have this on the label. The wine is very concentrated, dry, warming, and satisfying. It seems complex, too (my tasting note mentions herbs, barley sugar and blackcurrants), and has a long finish. A very good 16++(?17)/20.

There are two points to note here. My first impression of the wine was, "Whoah! Fruit bomb! Hee-hee!", but that's such a tired description, hence this blog's title, which conveys something of the attention-grabbing nature of the wine, and also tells you a little about the flavours. There was an anonymous comment on the previous post about how we describe wines, but I did detect the hand of TallAsAVan, who once characterised a poor Argentinian Malbec as being "like the dissonant clatter of a filing cabinet falling down some stairs". Perhaps he might think of Colomé Estate as an October storm rushing through a beech copse high on the Downs; powerful, exhilarating, exciting.

Second point: scoring. What exactly does 16++(?17) mean? Mainly it reflects my inability to settle on a single number, but that isn't very satisfactory. This year I am resolved to improve my wine scoring system. Along the way I may well try out Parker-style scoring, a star rating, or anything else which is suggested to me. In the meantime, have a look at this radical new scoring system.


Plum jam and old iron

I'm drinking de Bortoli Yarra Valley Gulf Station Pinot Noir (2004, stelvin) and wondering how to describe it. I don't really hold with the fruit-salad-throw-lots-of-adjectives-and-something'll-stick approach, but I can't just leave it at 'plum jam and old iron'. Then again, if I say that I mean the sort of cheap Polish plum jam Safeway used to sell long ago, before Solidarity got started on doing away with the Communists, rather than the rich, fresh - FRESH! - confection that Bob whizzed up from Mrs O's glut last autumn I'm inviting a nomination to Pseud's Corner.

It's interesting, this challenge we face of trying to translate our impressions of a wine from the personal to the universal. For me, it's a fair proportion of the pleasure I find in wine.

"This is all very well", I hear you say, "but should I shell out £9 for a bottle?". Hmmn. Probably not. It's a decent wine, interesting, does show varietal character a little, but it's not all that satisfying to drink. In truth, I think it's too young. So, buy it and keep for a year or two, or nod wisely and move on. Despite which, I do think it rates 14/20. Interesting but not satisfying.