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.
Funny you should mention this as we were having a (rather geeky) conversation the other day at work about the term "crisp". Yes I know it's manifestly idiotic to describe a liquid as "crisp" but we do do it often. Don't get me started on "plum jam". The wine being tasted at the time, Steenberg Unwooded Chardonnay in the 2005, described by one as crisp, I felt (amongst others) incorrect. Soft, concentrated, fine, balanced, yes but crisp, ure 'avin a larf incha? At this moment one of the cleaning ladies appeared and I asked her, " If I said a wine was crisp what do you think it would be like? "White and clean" she replied. So I stand corrected, it was squeaky clean and clearly a white wine and therefore "crisp" to, who knows what percentage, of the population.
My feeling? The language of wine isolates more than it includes (why else do the Grocers bypass talkies?) and it is up to the likes of you dear chap to translate flavours, aromas, textures and emotions into words that are understood by the majority. "Old Iron?" Metallic? Rusty? Hard? or more Mashie Niblick?
Old iron like the smell of a well used gardening tool - the sort of tool which would be rusty of it were not so well used, but instead has a black, dull patina about it.
I'm not so sure about wine language being non-inclusive. Yes, it's widely mocked, but even the discount grocers use it in their promotional bumf. They eschew talkies because their staff don't have the knowledge to match talkie to wine.
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