A good general rule (of wine tasting) is to state that the bouquet is better than the taste, and vice versa.
Stephen Potter – One-upsmanship (1952)
After tasting the 1996 Oddero Barolo at Carnevino, I decided I needed more. For fun, I read a review of one release, and came across this gem:
“Minty and hugely intense out of the bottle, after being opened for 8 hours, with a touch of underlying chicken broth but big tones of black olive, rust, and fish bones. Absolutely succulent in the mouth with deep. rich fruit and a big hoppy/vegetal/floral tones that leads from the mid-palate to the long finish that really resonates with minerality. Tastes of magnesium and rust with the huge reserves of fruit waiting patiently to reveal their full glory. A great wine in the making with intensity and balance. Give it time. 2012-2025 94pts”
Thank goodness I tasted the wine and bought before reading this. Wouldn’t know what to think otherwise, LOL.
Unpretentiously yours in wine,
First of all, ELV wants to know if you waited eight hours at Carnevino before taking your first sip? Otherwise, how in the world could you ever take the full measure of the chicken broth and rust overtones?
What we love about tasting wines with Italians, and French, Spanish and English folks for that matter, is how differently they approach the whole sensual experience of wine.
Americans are infamous for treating wine tasting like a chemistry class. Go to any amateur or professional wine tasting – or read any periodical on the subject – and what you get is a tsunami of similes.
“It’s like wet rocks, laden with peach dew overlain with bramble, asparagus, mint, chocolate, menthol, gunflint and wet leather…” is the type of nonsense you see spewed forth by American wine tasters — who have to treat every olfactory experience like an exam.
Leaving aside the fact that no one but a Revolutionary War soldier knows what gunflint smells like, this emphasis on being able to identify aromas down to the most faint or obscure whiff, misses the whole point of the experience.
History tells us that it was in the 1700’s that wine analysis began – mainly as a way for retailers and drinkers to defend themselves against being duped by unscrupulous sellers trying passing off plonk as the real enchilada.
Up until then, remarks were restricted to smoothness, depth, power, finesse and overall aroma. Only if you’re trying to separate a good Bordeaux from a bad one, is it essential to spot certain leather, pencil lead, tar and tobacco smells – but even with that justification, many pretentious tasters just take it too far.
All wine commentaries are metaphors. It may taste or smell like something, or remind you of something….but ultimately, every wine, even two buck chuck, stands on its own – independent of the descriptors used to analyze it.
So keep your powder dry, Scott, your gunflint sharp, and your palate unencumbered by the drivel foisted upon the wine drinking public by American wine professionals.
Because the more you think, taste and enjoy wine like a European, the better off you (and the wine) will be.