themostrighteous


quality posts: 12 Private Messages themostrighteous

i was reminded earlier today of a comment that rpm has oft made (this thread included) about the importance of a commonality of vocabulary in describing wine. i was watching WLTV #568 in which wine master / writer Jancis Robinson tasted three wines with Gary Vaynerchuk. as they were smelling the second of these wines, the 2006 Ridge Geyserville (USA, California, Sonoma County), Vaynerchuk commented that the nose smelled of candy. Robinson told Vaynerchuk why that descriptor had negative connotations, and Vaynerchuk described in turn why that descriptor had positive connotations. it was rather clear that 'candy' referred to two different types of smells to each of these wine critics. though, if push came to shove, i'd take Robinson's descriptions over Vaynerchuk's every day of the week. :P

in honor of this educational incident, i promptly procured a bottle of the 2006 Ridge Geyserville (USA, California, Sonoma County), which i am verily enjoying right now.

do you know... what biodynamics is?

richardhod


quality posts: 261 Private Messages richardhod
clayfu wrote:meet people around you that drink wine. I really think that's the biggest thing. Just going to a wine store might not be enough cause its interesting to learn from others and a common store tasting might not be enough.

I usually meet with 1-2 groups a month and we go through about 15 wines a session and just discuss it over dinner. Its alot of fun, you get to see a variety of wine.. which leads to a variety of taste/texture/flavors. The more people you hang around with the more you correlate certain "words" with certain tastes. Cause very few people can just suddenly start expressing themselves in the most descriptive of words. I know i certainly could not, listen to what other people are saying and try to *sniff*/*taste* your way into recognizing it =)

I used to never pinpoint the scent of green pepper, i just found it to be a weird smell and someone told me.. "do you smell green pepper?" and suddenly it hit me. Its subtle reaslizations like this that add to your knowledge and growth in wine education. (not enjoyment, you can definitely enjoy wine without knowing anything about it).



Ah yes, thank you! I should do thi much more, pinpointing smells: this happenee recently with a wine over a dinner date. She identified something I couldn't, and vice-versa.

Yes, it went well!

rpm


quality posts: 172 Private Messages rpm

This is a response to a post by richardhod (quoted) in the thread yesterday St. Supery 2005 Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon - 1.5L Magnum, which was itself a response to one of my posts responding to TooOldForThis.

I thought it might be better here, and by bumping this thread, introduce it to some newer wooters and revive interest among more seasoned winos:

TooOldForThis wrote:It's not that I've knowingly had a Parker-style wine. But the this forum generally disrespects "Parker-style" wines as being flabby, over-fruited swill, and Parker's preferences to have been the death of classic, tannic, earthy, leathery, age-worthy wines. Which isn't to say the Parker didn't capture the median of popular tastes of the American wine-buying public, or that Parker-style wines don't enjoy a vast market, or even that I wouldn't enjoy them myself a great deal.

What I am saying is that, if Parker liked what you and rpm consider fruit bombs (or, at least, wines towards that spectrum of style), and Parker's likes established the popular notion of "Napa cab" 35-40 years ago, then Parker-style fruit bombs are, quite possibly, the "classic Napa cabs" the writer had in mind. I'm not saying it's the only definition of "classic," or the best definition, or even that it's necessarily the definition used here. But it seems consistent with most of the other descriptions of the wine, other than the alcohol content.

The winery commented, "fresh black fruit flavors, is complex, has good structure yet softened tannins" and "stand a spell in decanter to open up." Fresh fruit and soft tannins in a 6-year old magnum sounds less structured, "needs time to open up" sounds more structured, and I'm confused. And suspicious.



As I see it, there are two fundamental issues with Parker which some think are interrelated:

1. He prefers fruit forward wines that are flavorful when young and not excessively tannic. On a couple of levels, this is fine as far as it goes - he does have a fair palate for that sort of juice, and, as far as I can tell, more people are drinking a better grade of that sort of juice than was available 30-odd years ago when Parker was just beginning to be influential. The problem with that is that while some grapes lend themselves to making those sorts of wine - Merlot certainly does (if it isn't too flabby, which it often can be), and so does 'mid-grade' Pinot Noir and some of the lesser better Italian wines - there are other grapes -- especially top quality Pinot Noir, Syrah (think Hermitage), the Nebbiolos of Barolo, and, most particularly, Cabernet Sauvignon - that really have far greater potential if made in a more restrained, intially tannic style to age over time.

2. Which brings us to problem #2 - Parker for many years did not, and as far as I can tell still does not, understand the Cabernet Sauvignon grape. Sure, he has the proper reverence for the 'big names' in Bordeaux, and now in California, but he doesn't 'get' the way wines made from the grape mature in the bottle and develop over time. His preference in Bordeaux (if you get beyond pure 'name dropping') always tends to wines with lots of Merlot in them - the more fruit forward styles. He has never seemed to understand the way traditionally made Cabs need at least 8-10 years to knit. Or understood that the difference between California Cab and Bordeaux that was mostly Cab (e.g. most Pauillac) the fact that California's generally more favorable ripening conditions meant the wine would have an initial phase redolant with fresh (not overripe) fruit on release before settling down to a sullen adolescence, where Bordeaux rarely had that initial charm. The sort of thing that everyone interested in Cab in California well understood at least as far back as the early 20th century when my great uncle Tony was making Cab at Beaulieu.

What I have never understood is why no one ever walked Parker through the life cycle of California Cab at various stages of development. Or, perhaps one or more people tried. No one I knew ever said they did, though. I know a couple of people who will remain nameless who (stupidly) though of him as 'fun to watch' as he went bumbling about.

To which gooberpeas responded:

gooberpeas wrote:I just have to say thanks. This is one of those moments in my wine learning-curve that is epiphanous and I think I will re-read this post a few times to really understand my own tastes as well as those with other (arguably) more sophisticated tastes and how that fits into the wine industry itself. Of course thanks to all other insightful posts that have 'gone before'. This is what keeps me reading (and lurking ) thanks!

edit: not 'arguably' by me, but by others with more experience that still enjoy more fruit forward wines (grapes) like merlot, as that was a definite first favorite for me, though my tastes have changed a bit



which prompted richard:

richardhod wrote:THere's nothing wrong with liking Fruit-forward Parkerized wines.. it's just some people don't know how much more is out there! rpm is more purist than most but he knows by far the most history of anyone I've so far known. My tastes are quite like his, but there are
a. some less European, more Classic California (not Parkerized, but what rpm talks about) or
b. neo-Classic Napa (more recent, young-drinking silky smooth, sometimes with far too high pH, sometimes with decent acid, somehow) PArkery wines
which are actually worth trying out and drinking. Just know that there is a range.. and that most of the world doesn't like or hasn't drunk much of b.! Except where PArker and his minions have changed some of the Bordeaux chateaux...

Classic great stuff is still in the trad muld, but I like that there are new styles and innovations to try. Sadly some take over more than they should du to money...



Very nicely put, richard. Your post adds clarity and perspective. As I think you know, I don't object to fruit forward wines particularly when they're made from appropriate grapes and where phenolic ripeness is achieved without the sugars ending up (sometimes well) north of 25 Brix. They're not my favorites by any means, but they can be very good and thoroughly enjoyable. Just don't do that to first rate Cabernet fruit from the Rutherford Bench which has so much more potential....

What I truly abhor and strenuously object to, is the growing tendency, which I would argue is at least in part an attempt to search for wines that will impress Parker, or, even more now, some of the newer American wine writers, to consciously work (in rootstock choices, in the cultivation of the vineyard, and later in the cellar) for 'late' phenolic ripeness at sugar levels that almost guarantee excessively high alcohol (sometimes well north of 15%, which almost never works IMHO) unless steps are taken in the winery to reduce alcohol. These wines have (to my taste) very overripe aromas and flavors, sometimes even a raisin-like, port-like character, and lack structure and balance (both acid and tannin). I am not impressed how that works with all of the new oak currently in fashion or how those wines go with food.

The point is, it's not so much Parker's preferences which are pernicious - after all, he would not be successful if he didn't steer a lot of customers to wines they like. Mostly unsophisticated customers (as he was when he started and long remained) who didn't like or understand fine wine, but now happy wine drinkers nonetheless.

Where the wine industry has failed significantly in the post-Prohibition and post-WWII world is in successfully explaining traditionally made fine wine and developing the taste of the greatly increased wine-drinking population for those wines.

At the beginning of the 20th century, there was a relatively small, even tiny, market for fine wine: certain aristocracies and upper classes and those somehow connected with the wine business. That was pretty much true through the immediate post-WWII period. There was plenty of time for palates to be trained (much in the way mine was) by sipping at the knee from tender youth and experiencing top wines at various stages in their lives: whether as an aristocratic consumer or as a winegrower, -maker or merchant, one had to learn how to appreciate, evaluate and buy wine since the best wines took time to reach maturity, were (relatively) expensive and relatively scarce. A mistake in purchasing large amounts of wines that were unlikely to develop well, or failing to purchase large amounts of wines destined to be great, could cost one substantially - in money and in reputation. [N.B. a modern example of the latter phenomenon was the almost complete destruction of David Peppercorn's reputation as a Bordeaux expert for failing to recognize the 1982 vintage as great - ultimately, he may have been right for most of the wines, as we see with 30 years hindsight, but Parker touted them, they were forward (think '74 in California) and a whole new world of winedrinkers loved them.]

Throughout that period, most people on the Continent (at least west of the Oder) and a fair number in other parts of the world drank wine, often in substantial quantities, but it was almost all vin ordinaire. Basic red or white table wine produced mostly locally for consumption prior to the next vintage (perhaps with something in reserve from good years in case of particularly bad ones) and often a substitute with meals for water (which was often unsanitary - even rather vile wine was truly a healthier beverage). That's probably what 90-95% of wine made in the world still is, and what 90-95% of wine drinkers drink on a daily basis.

Anyway, after WWII, and as a larger number of 'ordinary' Americans (whose families historically had not been fine wine drinkers) became acquainted with high quality wine in Europe during and after the war, and in California (often by chance....), there was a growing interest in better wine, which the industry tried to meet. Slowly at first, some people (many now by the wayside) more successful at first than others, but increasingly broadly and successfully.

Again, while the quality of this everyday wine was steadily improving, and while there was a core in California of winemakers who kept the knowledge of making fine wines alive (even if they didn't make much of it themselves because they had to make a living, and there wasn't much of a market for fine California wine in the ''40s and '50s), most of it was generic and meant for current consumption.

In the '60s, there was an explosion of interest in better wine (also in fruit-flavored wine drinks and utter garbage, but I digress) and wineries strove to meet the demand. Moreover, thousands (literally) invested in vineyards, and started wineries - some of them well-trained, others not so much (but that's another history....)

Back to the point, while the industry was successful at producing much better wines, by the mid-1970s mostly varietals (which could be another whole conversation), for daily consumption, where we were not particularly successful was in finding a way (there were attempts by merchants - one thinks especially of Peter Morrell in New York - to educate the nouveau riche and others in wine societies, but the effects were limited to a moderately wide, generally still wealthy, niveau) to develop the kind of knowledge and understanding that the people who had learned fine wine the old fashioned way (either from being in wealthy wine drinking families or from being in the trade) had.

Because a fair number of the producers of the best wines in California before the wine revolution either came from significant wealth (think the owners of Inglenook and Beaulieu who set the standards before ~1965) or from families long steeped in wine, their own palates had developed the old fashioned way. I am not sure many of them were consciously aware of what it took to develop a classic palate.

And both they, and the new people in the business, had to actually sell wine relatively young (tax laws, a lack of aged stocks due to Prohibition, the fact a new crop was coming in annually and a need for cash flow all contributed to a need to move the product out the door in a timely manner).

These factors coalesced with a lack (I think in retrospect) of understanding just much assiduous effort was needed to train palates to a really high standard in the absence of the 'from grandfather's knee' natural unselfconscious development, to give the trade little incentive to devote a lot of energy to developing a taste for wines that had reached greatness over time. I heard people in the business argue in the '60s and '70s - seriously enough - that it was better not let everyone in on the 'secret' as it were. After all, prices would only go up since there was already a market sufficient to sell most of the top quality wines. Let's just make money selling oceans of perfectly good wine, and leave the very best to those who know, or who who make the effort to learn and search it out. And, of course, top, widely-recognized wines have become relatively far more expensive than they were in the past.

After all, the information was all in the books! Again, in the trade, or in wine-drinking families, we'd all read Saintsbury and Morton Shand, or other books on wine, and we just knew this stuff. And people like Leon Adams were writing in Californa to spread the word! Far better for us to concentrate on making the juice as good as we could out the door (here we were lucky given how Cab ripens in California) and in selling it so they'll come back next year! Never a bad year! (well, not really true, but the grapes were almost never really underripe, even if the could be spoiled by late rain or early frost).

This has begun to ramble, and my day awaits. Perhaps more later.

Wine-tasting in 8 words:
Pull lots of corks!
Remember what you taste!

jhkey


quality posts: 51 Private Messages jhkey

Thanks rpm! A very insightful and informative post!

"I double the doctor's recommendation of a glass and a half of wine a day and even treble it with a friend."
- Thomas Jefferson (CT)

edlada


quality posts: 5 Private Messages edlada

Thanks RPM, very interesting, valuable insights there.

My dogs like me, that is important.

kylemittskus


quality posts: 230 Private Messages kylemittskus
rpm wrote:The point is, it's not so much Parker's preferences which are pernicious - after all, he would not be successful if he didn't steer a lot of customers to wines they like. Mostly unsophisticated customers (as he was when he started and long remained) who didn't like or understand fine wine, but now happy wine drinkers nonetheless.



Disclaimer: I do not mean to suggest that any of the following is your opinion or suggestion, RPM. I am just using it as an etiology for my own, possibly, rambling rant. 

It is statements like this one -- buried deep within a very informative and interesting post -- that start the kind of discussion that this has followed. For whatever reason, "Parker" has become a pejorative. And I think that calling those who share his penchant for high alcohol, high brix, "bomb" wines "unsophisticated" is pernicious to the wine world as a whole.

Certainly, not all of those who like "Parkerized" wines are unaware of or are uneducated in "fine wine." Creating the dichotomy between the two engenders a hierarchy in which “Parker” wines are lesser vis a vis fine wine. This can, and I think sometimes does, create a sense of immaturity (palate-wise) on the part of those who enjoy huge, bomb wines, especially drinkers who are new to the (new) wine scene, although not necessarily new to wine. It seems that the logical inference being assumed (and perhaps created) here is:

“A likes Parkerized wines.”
“Parkerized wines are not “fine” wines.”
“Ergo, A does not like or understand “fine wine.”
And the next, most detrimental logical leap (however large it may be) is “A is therefore not as sophisticated as B who doesn’t like Parkerized wines and does like “fine” wines.

The second premise is not valid and the conclusion is not the only logical one. However, it is sometimes (and it seems to me to be more often than not) accepted. I am an admitted fan of the bomb-type wines. When I first started getting into wine, I thought I was supposed to like Bordeaux and classically-styled wines* so I did. And not that I don’t like and appreciate them still. But I also, not instead of, have a penchant for bombs.

*At times, it seems to me that this term is used to mean a) wines made in the same style as those that were made before we had the technology and knowledge to do something different or b) wines that will never return again because the good ol’ days are gone so every day is worse than the last and instead of moving forward, I will mourn the past.

"If drinking is bitter, change yourself to wine." -Rainer Maria Rilke

"Champagne is a very kind and friendly thing on a rainy night." -Isak Dinesen

rpm


quality posts: 172 Private Messages rpm
kylemittskus wrote:Disclaimer: ... rambling rant. 

.....And I think that calling those who share his penchant for high alcohol, high brix, "bomb" wines "unsophisticated" is pernicious to the wine world as a whole.
....

*At times, it seems to me that this term is used to mean a) wines made in the same style as those that were made before we had the technology and knowledge to do something different or b) wines that will never return again because the good ol’ days are gone so every day is worse than the last and instead of moving forward, I will mourn the past.



Have you read through this whole thread? I commend it to you, if you have not.

I did not say that all of those who like "Parkerized" wines are unawaer of are are uneducated in "fine wine." I said most, and I'll stand by the comment. I would wager that most of the experts, and certainly almost all of the experts with experience with wine that predates 1980, would agree with me.

The problem isn't that some people say they are sophisticated, educated in wine, and like both or even prefer the 'bombs' - rather, the problem is that the encomiums to fruit forward, low acid, low tannin, approachable wines have begun to change the way even the wines that should not be made that way (because, as I point out, they are capable of so much more) are made, how the grapes are farmed, and reducing even the possibility of wine being structured so it can age to sublimity. Faugh!

I thought my post acknowledge right up front that

I don't object to fruit forward wines particularly when they're made from appropriate grapes and where phenolic ripeness is achieved without the sugars ending up (sometimes well) north of 25 Brix. They're not my favorites by any means, but they can be very good and thoroughly enjoyable.



Easily approachable wine can be good, even very good, but I would argue it is never great. To me, the mark of a sophisticated palate is one that recognizes, appreciates, and understands those great wines.

Your point is well taken that modern knowledge and technology have made it far easier to make good wine than it was in the past. (actually, I think it's mostly technology allowing us to use knowledge, since a lot of the techniques now in use were understood 150 years ago, you just couldn't reliably use them) I thought I was making something of the same point by talking about how the ordinary wine people drink is a whole lot better than it used to be. With 90% of wine, it's made a positive difference.

However, understand that the wines we have historically called great are the wines that rise to sublime heights even without the modern technology. They didn't need it. They evolved into a particularly sublime style working with what was available, and achieved something far greater that could reasonably have been expected. But, other than introducing modern sanitary standards and taking care in the vineyards but along traditional lines, changes are not necessarily for the better because the changes (for which we now have numbers and technology to quantify) destroy the structure and balance that made them 'work'.

It is therefore perfectly possible to like both styles in their own way, but to rate them equally, or to prefer the approachable 'bombs' strikes me as evidence of a palate that is not particularly sophisticated, or at least one that has never had (or does not appreciate) a truly great wine from a great vintage at its peak.

That may be the rub. Very few of us regularly drink grand cru (or California equivalent) wines, and even fewer of us drink them well-aged.

Wine-tasting in 8 words:
Pull lots of corks!
Remember what you taste!

edlada


quality posts: 5 Private Messages edlada
rpm wrote:Easily approachable wine can be good, even very good, but I would argue it is never great. To me, the mark of a sophisticated palate is one that recognizes, appreciates, and understands those great wines.

Your point is well taken that modern knowledge and technology have made it far easier to make good wine than it was in the past. (actually, I think it's mostly technology allowing us to use knowledge, since a lot of the techniques now in use were understood 150 years ago, you just couldn't reliably use them) I thought I was making something of the same point by talking about how the ordinary wine people drink is a whole lot better than it used to be. With 90% of wine, it's made a positive difference.

However, understand that the wines we have historically called great are the wines that rise to sublime heights even without the modern technology. They didn't need it. They evolved into a particularly sublime style working with what was available, and achieved something far greater that could reasonably have been expected. But, other than introducing modern sanitary standards and taking care in the vineyards but along traditional lines, changes are not necessarily for the better because the changes (for which we now have numbers and technology to quantify) destroy the structure and balance that made them 'work'.

It is therefore perfectly possible to like both styles in their own way, but to rate them equally, or to prefer the approachable 'bombs' strikes me as evidence of a palate that is not particularly sophisticated, or at least one that has never had (or does not appreciate) a truly great wine from a great vintage at its peak.

That may be the rub. Very few of us regularly drink grand cru (or California equivalent) wines, and even fewer of us drink them well-aged.



I have drank a fair amount of "good" wine over the years, but if it wasn't for my extremely good fortune to have a friend that has a very deep cellar in terms of quality and age, I would never know about the experience that RPM is describing above. My friend has shared some very nice "new world" California wine with me as well as some very old, very good quality Bordeaux and Burgundies. Without sounding like a wine snob, I agree that it is very difficult for the new world wines to match the absolutely sublime flavors, structure and complexity of the old world wine. Taste is largely subjective but there are times when subjectivity doesn't apply and this is one of them. If you are serious about wine and you can taste enough this becomes apparent, no matter your palate.

My friend does have a philosophy that can be helpful to the budget Although he has some well known Chateaus represented in his cellar, he believes that is you buy good wines, not necessarily great wines from great years you can drink some pretty good wines without going broke. Imagine having 3rd or 4th growth Bordeauxs as your "daily drinkers!"

My dogs like me, that is important.

richardhod


quality posts: 261 Private Messages richardhod
edlada wrote:I have drank a fair amount of "good" wine over the years, but if it wasn't for my extremely good fortune to have a friend that has a very deep cellar in terms of quality and age, I would never know about the experience that RPM is describing above. My friend has shared some very nice "new world" California wine with me as well as some very old, very good quality Bordeaux and Burgundies. Without sounding like a wine snob, I agree that it is very difficult for the new world wines to match the absolutely sublime flavors, structure and complexity of the old world wine. Taste is largely subjective but there are times when subjectivity doesn't apply and this is one of them. If you are serious about wine and you can taste enough this becomes apparent, no matter your palate.

My friend does have a philosophy that can be helpful to the budget Although he has some well known Chateaus represented in his cellar, he believes that is you buy good wines, not necessarily great wines from great years you can drink some pretty good wines without going broke. Imagine having 3rd or 4th growth Bordeauxs as your "daily drinkers!"



Ah, interesting. Better QPR than second (or even first) growths from lesser vintage years?

edlada


quality posts: 5 Private Messages edlada
richardhod wrote:Ah, interesting. Better QPR than second (or even first) growths from lesser vintage years?



Hit or miss, but definitely possible!

My dogs like me, that is important.

rpm


quality posts: 172 Private Messages rpm
edlada wrote:I have drank a fair amount of "good" wine over the years, but if it wasn't for my extremely good fortune to have a friend that has a very deep cellar in terms of quality and age, I would never know about the experience that RPM is describing above. My friend has shared some very nice "new world" California wine with me as well as some very old, very good quality Bordeaux and Burgundies. Without sounding like a wine snob, I agree that it is very difficult for the new world wines to match the absolutely sublime flavors, structure and complexity of the old world wine. Taste is largely subjective but there are times when subjectivity doesn't apply and this is one of them. If you are serious about wine and you can taste enough this becomes apparent, no matter your palate.

My friend does have a philosophy that can be helpful to the budget Although he has some well known Chateaus represented in his cellar, he believes that is you buy good wines, not necessarily great wines from great years you can drink some pretty good wines without going broke. Imagine having 3rd or 4th growth Bordeauxs as your "daily drinkers!"



I agree with everything here except I would say that the best California wines made in the classical style from great years, can yield equally sublime (though nto identical) flavors and aromas as old world wines.

I think the advice to buy 2nd level wines (3-5th growth in Bordeaux, premier cru in Burgundy) in great years is very sound. I think that's a little harder in California - that is one should splurge for top California classically made wines in great years - I think it's also better to 2nd level wines from great years than it is to buy 1st level wines in off years, as a rule. (There are always exceptions - in poor years some wineries sometimes make exceptional wines - if you know about them before the world does, you can get bargains). This is why, contra folks with wine to sell, I generally recommend people stick with 2005 and 2007 for reds in California among what's still commercially available, generally avoiding 2006 and 2008.

Wine-tasting in 8 words:
Pull lots of corks!
Remember what you taste!

rpm


quality posts: 172 Private Messages rpm
richardhod wrote:Ah, interesting. Better QPR than second (or even first) growths from lesser vintage years?



This is tricky - some of the 2nds (Pichon and others) and 3rds (Palmer) command close to 1st growth prices. Generally, my experience with 1st growths in other than great years is that, while good, they're not worth the prices. With Bordeaux, you really have to taste the wines with someone who knows the vintage well. Burgundy, of course, is even more difficult.

Wine-tasting in 8 words:
Pull lots of corks!
Remember what you taste!

edlada


quality posts: 5 Private Messages edlada
rpm wrote:I agree with everything here except I would say that the best California wines made in the classical style from great years, can yield equally sublime (though nto identical) flavors and aromas as old world wines.

I think the advice to buy 2nd level wines (3-5th growth in Bordeaux, premier cru in Burgundy) in great years is very sound. I think that's a little harder in California - that is one should splurge for top California classically made wines in great years - I think it's also better to 2nd level wines from great years than it is to buy 1st level wines in off years, as a rule. (There are always exceptions - in poor years some wineries sometimes make exceptional wines - if you know about them before the world does, you can get bargains). This is why, contra folks with wine to sell, I generally recommend people stick with 2005 and 2007 for reds in California among what's still commercially available, generally avoiding 2006 and 2008.



Sorry, by saying "new world" I forgot to add style, not just new world wines as in all California wine. I wish I could try some classic old California Cabernet, I would like to compare. Unfortunately if you can find a really good, old California Cabernet here, the prices are very high.

Indeed, obviously it is easier to do what I am talking about living in Europe, although as you mentioned you can buy pretty good French wine at reasonable prices on the east coast. My friend buys a lot of his wine on Ebay, they have a German Ebay site. You have to be careful but he has been doing it a long time and trusts certain sellers and he also has a pretty good knowledge of wine. Is it possible to buy/sell wine on Ebay in the US? I left the country before Ebay existed!

My dogs like me, that is important.

edlada


quality posts: 5 Private Messages edlada
rpm wrote:This is tricky - some of the 2nds (Pichon and others) and 3rds (Palmer) command close to 1st growth prices. Generally, my experience with 1st growths in other than great years is that, while good, they're not worth the prices. With Bordeaux, you really have to taste the wines with someone who knows the vintage well. Burgundy, of course, is even more difficult.



My friend shared an '89 Palmer with me a few weeks ago and it may not be cheap but it compared very well to far more prestigious growth wines. Perhaps its lowly rating is due to its decidedly Anglo sounding name! Not as bad as Chateau Smith Haut Lafitte though.

My dogs like me, that is important.

rpm


quality posts: 172 Private Messages rpm
edlada wrote:My friend shared an '89 Palmer with me a few weeks ago and it may not be cheap but it compared very well to far more prestigious growth wines. Perhaps its lowly rating is due to its decidedly Anglo sounding name! Not as bad as Chateau Smith Haut Lafitte though.



That's why it's more expensive than other 3rd growths. You realize that much of the rating in the 1855 classification was based on average selling prices for the wines over many years and their general reputations. Essentially a free market in wine: better wine gained repute and commanded higher prices. Apparently, this was pretty consistent over a long time. There is always talk about changes, but only 2 have been made (when Cantemarle was made a 5th growth later in 1855 and when Mouton was promoted to 1st growth status in 1973). General view holds that some wines should be promoted and some demoted. Promotions are generally 1 level except Palmer goes from 3 to 1 and Lynch-Bages from 5 to 1. A number of 2s drop to 3 or 4 or even 5.

Wine-tasting in 8 words:
Pull lots of corks!
Remember what you taste!

canonizer


quality posts: 22 Private Messages canonizer
rpm wrote:That's why it's more expensive than other 3rd growths. You realize that much of the rating in the 1855 classification was based on average selling prices for the wines over many years and their general reputations. Essentially a free market in wine: better wine gained repute and commanded higher prices. Apparently, this was pretty consistent over a long time. There is always talk about changes, but only 2 have been made (when Cantemarle was made a 5th growth later in 1855 and when Mouton was promoted to 1st growth status in 1973). General view holds that some wines should be promoted and some demoted. Promotions are generally 1 level except Palmer goes from 3 to 1 and Lynch-Bages from 5 to 1. A number of 2s drop to 3 or 4 or even 5.



Except heads would roll with demotions so it will never go through.

signed.

wnance


quality posts: 4 Private Messages wnance
rpm wrote:This is a response to a post by richardhod (quoted) in the thread yesterday St. Supery 2005 Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon - 1.5L Magnum, which was itself a response to one of my posts responding to TooOldForThis.

I thought it might be better here, and by bumping this thread, introduce it to some newer wooters and revive interest among more seasoned winos:

Snip...


This has begun to ramble, and my day awaits. Perhaps more later.



RPM,

This, I believe, is my first post responding directly to you, but please know that I've read your posts for almost 2 years, and have already learned a great deal from what you have to say about wine, help in tasting, and the history of the wine industry in CA.

I have only recently (the past year or so) begun to try to develop my palette with regard to wine. I am very involved in specialty coffee and espresso, roasting my own espresso, etc., so many of the tastes and aromas are similar to wine, so I have some place to start from.

Also, I'm an orchestral trumpeter for the last 25 years, so the analogies to music are especially poignant for me, and I'm always very interested in a "classical" and traditional approach to something, such as wine.

One of my frustrations with wine, as opposed to coffee, is that is seems to take significant resource to explore fine wine, as opposed to coffee. I'm not sure how I would ever be able to be exposed to great aged wine, such as Grand Cru, like you refer to, without having a wealthy benefactor! Since I'm just starting out, most wine I'm buying is at the oldest 2006 or so, with the occasional aged offering with an opportunity to buy something older that has been properly cellared.

So, we end up drinking wines younger for the most part, and I'm not sure how to change that.

I have one question for you: I opened the Red Zeppelin Wines 2005 Black Zeppelin I had saved from last year recently (only had one) for a special occasion, and was ultimately disappointed. I've normally been decanting any wines we drink for about an hour or so. I taste them immediately after opening, just to get a sense for them, then decant and wait. The wines are all being opening in the low 60 degree range.

Anyway, I felt the Black Zeppelin was better popped and poured, and seemed to be very nice, but faded in the decanter. How do you know how to treat a wine to get the best taste? This wine may have ultimately been better had I not decanted, although I felt that it seemed young enough to benefit. The 2005 Black Zeppelin seems to be very well regarded throughout the Woot community, so I was expecting a more memorable experience.

Thoughts? Should I have emailed Stillman to ask how the wine was drinking at this point before opening?

Thanks for all your insight on these boards,

Wes

rpm


quality posts: 172 Private Messages rpm
wnance wrote:RPM,

This, I believe, is my first post responding directly to you, but please know that I've read your posts for almost 2 years, and have already learned a great deal from what you have to say about wine, help in tasting, and the history of the wine industry in CA.

I have only recently (the past year or so) begun to try to develop my palette with regard to wine. I am very involved in specialty coffee and espresso, roasting my own espresso, etc., so many of the tastes and aromas are similar to wine, so I have some place to start from.

Also, I'm an orchestral trumpeter for the last 25 years, so the analogies to music are especially poignant for me, and I'm always very interested in a "classical" and traditional approach to something, such as wine.

One of my frustrations with wine, as opposed to coffee, is that is seems to take significant resource to explore fine wine, as opposed to coffee. I'm not sure how I would ever be able to be exposed to great aged wine, such as Grand Cru, like you refer to, without having a wealthy benefactor! Since I'm just starting out, most wine I'm buying is at the oldest 2006 or so, with the occasional aged offering with an opportunity to buy something older that has been properly cellared.

So, we end up drinking wines younger for the most part, and I'm not sure how to change that.

I have one question for you: I opened the Red Zeppelin Wines 2005 Black Zeppelin I had saved from last year recently (only had one) for a special occasion, and was ultimately disappointed. I've normally been decanting any wines we drink for about an hour or so. I taste them immediately after opening, just to get a sense for them, then decant and wait. The wines are all being opening in the low 60 degree range.

Anyway, I felt the Black Zeppelin was better popped and poured, and seemed to be very nice, but faded in the decanter. How do you know how to treat a wine to get the best taste? This wine may have ultimately been better had I not decanted, although I felt that it seemed young enough to benefit. The 2005 Black Zeppelin seems to be very well regarded throughout the Woot community, so I was expecting a more memorable experience.

Thoughts? Should I have emailed Stillman to ask how the wine was drinking at this point before opening?

Thanks for all your insight on these boards,

Wes



Hmmm. I haven't had the wine, so I can't tell you much with certainty. It is mostly Syrah, with some 16% Alicante Bouchet and some Cabernet. It's from Paso Robles, and the alcohol is high (15.9%). High extract, tannic, thick and chewy, it seems. Sort of the opposite of the kind of wine I usually order, though I like Syrah if it's not too hot and it has some age on it. Note, too, this is pretty much a new international style wine - they are very popular around here with a certain portion of the community, but another bunch of us tend to avoid them.

I would venture the problem might be the wine is not especially well balanced. It would be better immediately out of the bottle because you'd get a whiff of fruit, but it wouldn't have begun to open up yet. Depending on the temperature you served it at, it might start showing its flaws, and its youth, as it opened. A 5 and a bit year old wine that big (from what I read) would need a long time (2-3 hours, maybe overnight!) in a decanter to give it a chance.

The way you remedy drinking only younger wines is to layer your buying - sure, buy for current consumption, but also buy wines (from good years) that will need a few years (e.g. the Gazzi Pinots the other day, and Kent Rasmussen Pinot) and other wines that will need more time (Corison and other quality Cabernets from good years). Over time, you will always have something ready. In the meantime, keep pulling corks and learning!

And come drink espresso and play in a brass quintet here with me and my kid (see pm) and some friends, and I'll serve you something old and good.

Wine-tasting in 8 words:
Pull lots of corks!
Remember what you taste!

kylemittskus


quality posts: 230 Private Messages kylemittskus
rpm wrote:Easily approachable wine can be good, even very good, but I would argue it is never great. To me, the mark of a sophisticated palate is one that recognizes, appreciates, and understands those great wines.



Again, I lament the communication value of text alone. I had hoped that my disclaimer would show that I was merely using your post as a jumping off point. Nevertheless, onward!

The problem here is really linguistic, I think (leave it to an English major to get into semantics and deconstruction). "Great" is merely a term used to identify what one person sees as superior. What constitutes a great wine? And what is the difference between a great wine and a good one? The differences are probably immeasurable, but those words still strike connotations, especially when put against each other. Your great is certainly not universal. Similarly, your "sophistication" is not universal. By using words like "unsophisticated," you are, again, using a point of reference that is merely opinion. And an opinion that may turn people away from such a lovely and wonderful thing to share and learn about and enjoy. The wines that you (and others) revere are not universally revered. Therefore, one man's sophistication is another man's curmudgeonly opinion.

However, understand that the wines we have historically called great are the wines that rise to sublime heights even without the modern technology. They didn't need it. They evolved into a particularly sublime style working with what was available, and achieved something far greater that could reasonably have been expected. But, other than introducing modern sanitary standards and taking care in the vineyards but along traditional lines, changes are not necessarily for the better because the changes (for which we now have numbers and technology to quantify) destroy the structure and balance that made them 'work'.


Your use here of "historical" seems rather short-sighted, in my humble opinion. Needless to say (especially to you), the history of wine far exceeds the past couple hundred years. And even these wines that have "historically" been called great have only been called such for a very short amount of time, compared to the lifespan of wine as a whole. Bordeaux, for example, was cheaper to buy than Chinon. However, very few would consider Chinon a "historically" great region, especially in comparison with Bordeaux. Another example is referencing historical greatness in relation to CA wines. CA has been making wine for a mere blink of an eye compared to the aforementioned and Italy and Germany. I would argue that CA has barely began its wine history and is perhaps, still settling itself down. At first, it was trying to emulate Bordeaux, or so it would seem to me. And then PN and the emulation of Burgundy. And those two are viewed, generally, as being greater because of their age and history. Personally, I very much like that CA is starting to develop its own "wine identity." Instead of saying, this CA wine is very Bordeaux-like, we should say, this wine is unmistakably CA.

I suppose the rub, in this case, is that I view history, not as a continuum, but as a pendulum. Trying to guess where the wine world will be in 200 years is impossible. We can't know for sure if the wines you consider "great" will even be talked about anymore. And likewise, about the wines which I feel are "great." It is entirely possible that my grandchildren will be drinking "historically great" Alaskan Chardonnay.

"If drinking is bitter, change yourself to wine." -Rainer Maria Rilke

"Champagne is a very kind and friendly thing on a rainy night." -Isak Dinesen

rpm


quality posts: 172 Private Messages rpm

I suppose that my use of historical is meant to encompass the past two or three centuries as far as Bordeaux and Cabernet wines are concerned, and perhaps another hundred or two for Burgundy.

If you want to talk about Riesling or Tokay, you can probably go back to the fifteenth and perhaps the fourteenth century.

However, for those periods, in those regions, there has been a remarkable amount of continuity and agreement about what was good and what was great.

I see the difference between good, even very good, wine and great wine as rather like Potter Stewart's: I can't define it, but I know it when I see it.

As to the future, who knows. People still read Saintsbury, after all, as well as Parker. And, there are winemakers like Cathy Corison who are keepers of the flame.

Wine-tasting in 8 words:
Pull lots of corks!
Remember what you taste!

richardhod


quality posts: 261 Private Messages richardhod
wnance wrote:
seems to take significant resource to explore fine wine, as opposed to coffee.

Anyway, I felt the Black Zeppelin was better popped and poured, and seemed to be very nice, but faded in the decanter. How do you know how to treat a wine to get the best taste? This wine may have ultimately been better had I not decanted, although I felt that it seemed young enough to benefit. The 2005 Black Zeppelin seems to be very well regarded throughout the Woot community, so I was expecting a more memorable experience.





Hi Wes
I'm sure rpm can respond for himself but a couple of things I have to say. First.. what about Blue mountain coffee and the codffee tha needs to be passed through goats to get its flavour.. that's somewhat more expensive at say $50 or $100 a pound, I believe. Is it worth it?

Also, the PS of Paso Robles isn't really rpm's kind of wine AFAIK, but as with the Ty Caton wines, some people love them. what our PS lover - google PSILoveYou - Loweeel says, is that PS is good young, with decanting to soften the tannins, or aged a long way, over 20 years. There is a dumb period with them too, though I forget how long. look up PetiteSirah and dumb period in woot search and you might find his advice. Or go to his psiloveyou blog.

Thirdly, PS made CA style is about dark fruits and tannin when young. Not like other wines, and certainly not like classical wines, as there's a lot less of the light zippy fresh fruit on the palate generally. It's a certain kind of beast, so expectations have to be accordingly set! I'm still not convinced by most of them, but some are lovely at a little age.

gregorylane


quality posts: 15 Private Messages gregorylane
kylemittskus wrote:Your use here of "historical" seems rather short-sighted, in my humble opinion. Needless to say (especially to you), the history of wine far exceeds the past couple hundred years. And even these wines that have "historically" been called great have only been called such for a very short amount of time, compared to the lifespan of wine as a whole. Bordeaux, for example, was cheaper to buy than Chinon. However, very few would consider Chinon a "historically" great region, especially in comparison with Bordeaux. Another example is referencing historical greatness in relation to CA wines. CA has been making wine for a mere blink of an eye compared to the aforementioned and Italy and Germany. I would argue that CA has barely began its wine history and is perhaps, still settling itself down. At first, it was trying to emulate Bordeaux, or so it would seem to me. And then PN and the emulation of Burgundy. And those two are viewed, generally, as being greater because of their age and history. Personally, I very much like that CA is starting to develop its own "wine identity." Instead of saying, this CA wine is very Bordeaux-like, we should say, this wine is unmistakably CA.

I suppose the rub, in this case, is that I view history, not as a continuum, but as a pendulum. Trying to guess where the wine world will be in 200 years is impossible. We can't know for sure if the wines you consider "great" will even be talked about anymore. And likewise, about the wines which I feel are "great." It is entirely possible that my grandchildren will be drinking "historically great" Alaskan Chardonnay.



Not to devalue your assertions here, but have you truly tasted the sublime, or great? To rpm's level? I think that is the point. You are beyond reproach in declaring the subjectivity of what is great, but the experience must be the deciding factor...IMO.

There is really no point in trying to explain liberty to people who don't understand what it means.
rpm-2012

rpm


quality posts: 172 Private Messages rpm
richardhod wrote:Hi Wes
I'm sure rpm can respond for himself but a couple of things I have to say. First.. what about Blue mountain coffee and the codffee tha needs to be passed through goats to get its flavour.. that's somewhat more expensive at say $50 or $100 a pound, I believe. Is it worth it?

Also, the PS of Paso Robles isn't really rpm's kind of wine AFAIK, but as with the Ty Caton wines, some people love them. what our PS lover - google PSILoveYou - Loweeel says, is that PS is good young, with decanting to soften the tannins, or aged a long way, over 20 years. There is a dumb period with them too, though I forget how long. look up PetiteSirah and dumb period in woot search and you might find his advice. Or go to his psiloveyou blog.

Thirdly, PS made CA style is about dark fruits and tannin when young. Not like other wines, and certainly not like classical wines, as there's a lot less of the light zippy fresh fruit on the palate generally. It's a certain kind of beast, so expectations have to be accordingly set! I'm still not convinced by most of them, but some are lovely at a little age.



I don't know about the stuff that goes through goats (or whatever it is), but I can tell you that authentic Jamaica Blue Mountain, when freshly roasted to the traditional light 'market' roast, is as close to a perfect cup of coffee as I've had. It's probably worth the price - I usually get a little around Christmas these days. For almost 20 years, I had access to the real thing at wholesale prices, and it was still twice the retail price of most 'gourmet' coffee. But, both SWMBO and I agreed it was well worth the difference. I stopped buying it when market demand caused my roaster to roast it darker than I like it. Long conversations with him about it later, he offered to roast in the way I liked if I ordered enough at a time, but it was too much, and I couldn't find enough friends who were willing to commit to regular deliveries (as I had) to make it work. A sad day when the JBM ran out....

The rest of what you say is true as far as it relates to me, and seems generally plausible: I have found that PS and Syrah (Hermitage) are really interesting only (immediately, as tannic monsters) or after 15-20 years. Note that PS and Syrah are not the same grapes at all.

Wine-tasting in 8 words:
Pull lots of corks!
Remember what you taste!

richardhod


quality posts: 261 Private Messages richardhod
rpm wrote:I don't know about the stuff that goes through goats (or whatever it is), but I can tell you that authentic Jamaica Blue Mountain, when freshly roasted to the traditional light 'market' roast, is as close to a perfect cup of coffee as I've had. It's probably worth the price - I usually get a little around Christmas these days. For almost 20 years, I had access to the real thing at wholesale prices, and it was still twice the retail price of most 'gourmet' coffee. But, both SWMBO and I agreed it was well worth the difference. I stopped buying it when market demand caused my roaster to roast it darker than I like it. Long conversations with him about it later, he offered to roast in the way I liked if I ordered enough at a time, but it was too much, and I couldn't find enough friends who were willing to commit to regular deliveries (as I had) to make it work. A sad day when the JBM ran out....

The rest of what you say is true as far as it relates to me, and seems generally plausible: I have found that PS and Syrah (Hermitage) are really interesting only (immediately, as tannic monsters) or after 15-20 years. Note that PS and Syrah are not the same grapes at all.



LOL I thought the Zeppelin was a PS.

You don't drink any Syrah at medium age? OR is that just the french Hermitage? Thinking Calfornia syrahs...

rpm


quality posts: 172 Private Messages rpm
richardhod wrote:LOL I thought the Zeppelin was a PS.

You don't drink any Syrah at medium age? OR is that just the french Hermitage? Thinking Calfornia syrahs...



Hermitage. California Syrahs somewhat younger, treat them more like middle class Rhones.

Wine-tasting in 8 words:
Pull lots of corks!
Remember what you taste!

wnance


quality posts: 4 Private Messages wnance
richardhod wrote:Hi Wes
I'm sure rpm can respond for himself but a couple of things I have to say. First.. what about Blue mountain coffee and the codffee tha needs to be passed through goats to get its flavour.. that's somewhat more expensive at say $50 or $100 a pound, I believe. Is it worth it?

Also, the PS of Paso Robles isn't really rpm's kind of wine AFAIK, but as with the Ty Caton wines, some people love them. what our PS lover - google PSILoveYou - Loweeel says, is that PS is good young, with decanting to soften the tannins, or aged a long way, over 20 years. There is a dumb period with them too, though I forget how long. look up PetiteSirah and dumb period in woot search and you might find his advice. Or go to his psiloveyou blog.

Thirdly, PS made CA style is about dark fruits and tannin when young. Not like other wines, and certainly not like classical wines, as there's a lot less of the light zippy fresh fruit on the palate generally. It's a certain kind of beast, so expectations have to be accordingly set! I'm still not convinced by most of them, but some are lovely at a little age.



Hi,

Thanks for your comments, and just to clarify, I was drinking the 2005 Black Zeppelin which is the blend RPM lays out in his response, not the 2009 that was recently offered (I bought that, too) that is all PS.

AS for coffee, I've never had the Kuala Lumpur (sp?) that gets harvested out of the monkey poop (would be a good offering with today's Woot wine?) and have never been fortunate to have properly roasted Blue Mountain. Most of my green coffee has been ordered from Sweet Marias, which is a terrific resource for the home roaster.

The main things with coffee, which, while cheaper than wine is a whole lot more complex to prepare properly, are quality green beans, roasted properly, consumed within a week or two of roasting, and prepared properly.

This can take a lot of time to explain/discuss, so I won't do it here. There is a lot of good material on coffeegeek.com and other similar sites. I liked getting into coffee because I could drink a world class cup of coffee or espresso for quite a bit less money than going to Starbucks. So less $$ for the best available product! Alas, wine doesn't seem to share the same economics of scale. . .

The best coffee I've had was in SanFrancisco at a small start up called SightGlass, incredible espresso. Also great coffee in Grand Rapids, MI, and of course NYC and Chicago to name a few. The best cup I've brewed myself was some Esmerelda Special I bought green from Sweet Marias and roasted myself and made in a French Press. This was just as the Esmerelda craze was getting going, now this coffee is much too expensive (read the book "God in a Cup" for a great story about this coffee) The coffee was so aromatic and fruity it was incredible. As it cooled it was literally like drinking fresh squeezed orange juice the citrus was so compelling. Amazing!

Anyway, thanks for the help with wine, it's also a fun journey. There are many places you can internet order excellent quality coffee and espresso that is roasted to order and will arrive within a few days of ordering to ensure freshness. Never ever buy coffee in a store- it's probably months past its roasting date and is more or less like drinking a wine that you left open on the counter for a few weeks. Nothing left. . .

Wes

canonizer


quality posts: 22 Private Messages canonizer
wnance wrote:Hi,

Thanks for your comments, and just to clarify, I was drinking the 2005 Black Zeppelin which is the blend RPM lays out in his response, not the 2009 that was recently offered (I bought that, too) that is all PS.

AS for coffee, I've never had the Kuala Lumpur (sp?) that gets harvested out of the monkey poop (would be a good offering with today's Woot wine?) and have never been fortunate to have properly roasted Blue Mountain. Most of my green coffee has been ordered from Sweet Marias, which is a terrific resource for the home roaster.

The main things with coffee, which, while cheaper than wine is a whole lot more complex to prepare properly, are quality green beans, roasted properly, consumed within a week or two of roasting, and prepared properly.

This can take a lot of time to explain/discuss, so I won't do it here. There is a lot of good material on coffeegeek.com and other similar sites. I liked getting into coffee because I could drink a world class cup of coffee or espresso for quite a bit less money than going to Starbucks. So less $$ for the best available product! Alas, wine doesn't seem to share the same economics of scale. . .

The best coffee I've had was in SanFrancisco at a small start up called SightGlass, incredible espresso. Also great coffee in Grand Rapids, MI, and of course NYC and Chicago to name a few. The best cup I've brewed myself was some Esmerelda Special I bought green from Sweet Marias and roasted myself and made in a French Press. This was just as the Esmerelda craze was getting going, now this coffee is much too expensive (read the book "God in a Cup" for a great story about this coffee) The coffee was so aromatic and fruity it was incredible. As it cooled it was literally like drinking fresh squeezed orange juice the citrus was so compelling. Amazing!

Anyway, thanks for the help with wine, it's also a fun journey. There are many places you can internet order excellent quality coffee and espresso that is roasted to order and will arrive within a few days of ordering to ensure freshness. Never ever buy coffee in a store- it's probably months past its roasting date and is more or less like drinking a wine that you left open on the counter for a few weeks. Nothing left. . .

Wes


Wes, I've been on the roast-my-own-coffee bandwagon for about 5 years. There are a lot of parallels between wine and coffee and, of course, an improving palate will help both.

signed.

kylemittskus


quality posts: 230 Private Messages kylemittskus
gregorylane wrote:Not to devalue your assertions here, but have you truly tasted the sublime, or great? To rpm's level? I think that is the point. You are beyond reproach in declaring the subjectivity of what is great, but the experience must be the deciding factor...IMO.



Again, terms are being used that have no universal meaning. Have I tasted as many wines as RPM? Of course not; he's thrice my age. Hopefully, one day I will be lucky enough to match his experiences. But they will not be the same as his. Have I tasted wines that I found to be "sublime" and "great"? I have. Would RPM consider them such? Perhaps not. But again, those terms are merely indicators for one's personal preferences. Likewise, experiential situations are not universally had. I may taste a wine that FILL IN ANYONE HERE thinks is absolutely perfect. That doesn’t mean that I will, as well. I think that there is indeed some level of agreement about what "bad" wines are. However, trying to create a continuum on which we can distinguish between “great” and “very good” and “good” is difficult. And trying to create one on which we can all agree is impossible. I understand RPM’s point that when you know, you know. Generally speaking, “greatness” is ineffable. It is difficult to use words that are only signifiers for emotions (and are thus, subjectively interpreted) to explain why I find The Sun Also Rises to be so great. And indeed, there are those who denigrate Hemingway and his simplicity.

I do not question that a perfectly aged Burgundy can be a “great” wine. However, IMO, this isn’t an either/or situation. Indeed, a perfectly aged first growth Bordeaux is, and should be, very different than the Burg. However, it too can be (and often is) considered great. My argument is that the fruit bomb wines, or any other genre of wines (Italian, German Riesling, etc.) can also be great (and of course, only OK, absolute plonk, etc.). Likewise, a 25 year old Burg can be “good” or “very good” and a 30 year old first growth can be absolutely terrible. My entire problem with the way that a lot of wine “experts” or huge fans of wine, or winos who have had the pleasure of experiencing more than someone, say, my age, is that each believes that his/her own wine aesthetic (if you will) is what is “great” and the rest can’t and never will be able to match up. I suppose that this entire post can be summed up as this: I question the validity of absolutes, especially when based on opinion. I also would like to add that I greatly appreciate this type of academic discussion, both for my brain and for my own wine-learning process.

"If drinking is bitter, change yourself to wine." -Rainer Maria Rilke

"Champagne is a very kind and friendly thing on a rainy night." -Isak Dinesen

rpm


quality posts: 172 Private Messages rpm
kylemittskus wrote: long relativist post



Go back and reread the beginnings of this thread, including a reply to me from sychrodan which quotes my post on the Iron Horse Cab Franc thread in which I make clear I am not a relativist.

That's were we fundamentally differ.

Wine-tasting in 8 words:
Pull lots of corks!
Remember what you taste!

kylemittskus


quality posts: 230 Private Messages kylemittskus
rpm wrote:Go back and reread the beginnings of this thread, including a reply to me from sychrodan which quotes my post on the Iron Horse Cab Franc thread in which I make clear I am not a relativist.

That's were we fundamentally differ.



It would seem so. But we can still argue about who's approach is better! To what degree do you think that there can be a univerally agreed upon measurement of "great" in relation to anything, wine included? Or rather, are you absolutely an absolute absolutist?

"If drinking is bitter, change yourself to wine." -Rainer Maria Rilke

"Champagne is a very kind and friendly thing on a rainy night." -Isak Dinesen

ddeuddeg


quality posts: 29 Private Messages ddeuddeg
kylemittskus wrote:Have I tasted as many wines as RPM? Of course not; he's thrice my age. Hopefully, one day I will be lucky enough to match his experiences.



a) Stick to English Lit. Your math is seriously suspect, unless you're only 21.
b) You have little or no hope of matching his experiences, as you're already nearly 2 decades behind to start with, and you'll likely never match his level of opportunity.

"Always keep a bottle of Champagne in the fridge for special occasions. Sometimes the special occasion is that you've got a bottle of Champagne in the fridge". - Hester Browne


Ddeuddeg's Cheesecake Cookbook

kylemittskus


quality posts: 230 Private Messages kylemittskus
ddeuddeg wrote:a) Stick to English Lit. Your math is seriously suspect, unless you're only 21.
b) You have little or no hope of matching his experiences, as you're already nearly 2 decades behind to start with, and you'll likely never match his level of opportunity.



Actually, I have never known how old RPM is. I assumed he was older than he actually is. Apologies, RPM. And you are very likely right. I doubt that I will have the ability or opportunity to taste all of the early bottles that he has had the pleasure of doing. However, he will not have the ability to taste the absolutely fantastic 2047 Bordeaux vintage or the 99 point Alaskan Chardonnay that is coming in 2052 that I was talking about earlier.

"If drinking is bitter, change yourself to wine." -Rainer Maria Rilke

"Champagne is a very kind and friendly thing on a rainy night." -Isak Dinesen

rpm


quality posts: 172 Private Messages rpm
kylemittskus wrote:It would seem so. But we can still argue about who's approach is better! To what degree do you think that there can be a univerally agreed upon measurement of "great" in relation to anything, wine included? Or rather, are you absolutely an absolute absolutist?



Read this thread and the this post on the Iron Horse Cab Franc Thread from 2008. I think I'm fairly clear how I shake out on the idea, and I really don't want to argue the point further.

Oh, I was born 10,000 years ago,
there's nothing ever happened I don't know
I saw Peter, Paul & Moses,
playing ring around the rosies
and I'll lick the guy that says it isn't so....

Wine-tasting in 8 words:
Pull lots of corks!
Remember what you taste!

ddeuddeg


quality posts: 29 Private Messages ddeuddeg
rpm wrote:Read this thread and the this post on the Iron Horse Cab Franc Thread from 2008. I think I'm fairly clear how I shake out on the idea, and I really don't want to argue the point further.

Oh, I was born 10,000 years ago,
there's nothing ever happened I don't know
I saw Peter, Paul & Moses,
playing ring around the rosies
and I'll lick the guy that says it isn't so....


Actually, Woody Guthrie wrote "I'll whup the guy ..."
More importantly, I thought, with the number of folks who've signed on here in recent months, this thread might be worth a revisit, for the incomparable advice it offers for tasting and enjoying wine at many levels.

"Always keep a bottle of Champagne in the fridge for special occasions. Sometimes the special occasion is that you've got a bottle of Champagne in the fridge". - Hester Browne


Ddeuddeg's Cheesecake Cookbook

rpm


quality posts: 172 Private Messages rpm
ddeuddeg wrote:Actually, Woody Guthrie wrote "I'll whup the guy ..."
More importantly, I thought, with the number of folks who've signed on here in recent months, this thread might be worth a revisit, for the incomparable advice it offers for tasting and enjoying wine at many levels.



Thanks for the bump. I think we should talk to the moderators about making this thread (and perhaps some others) sticky at the top, as many online forums do with specific threads.

Wine-tasting in 8 words:
Pull lots of corks!
Remember what you taste!

ddeuddeg


quality posts: 29 Private Messages ddeuddeg
rpm wrote:Thanks for the bump. I think we should talk to the moderators about making this thread (and perhaps some others) sticky at the top, as many online forums do with specific threads.

This one should be first in line for that treatment, IMHO.

"Always keep a bottle of Champagne in the fridge for special occasions. Sometimes the special occasion is that you've got a bottle of Champagne in the fridge". - Hester Browne


Ddeuddeg's Cheesecake Cookbook

rpm


quality posts: 172 Private Messages rpm
ddeuddeg wrote:This one should be first in line for that treatment, IMHO.



Bump! Are there any particular things within the purview of this thread that people particularly want to talk about these days?

Wine-tasting in 8 words:
Pull lots of corks!
Remember what you taste!

klezman


quality posts: 122 Private Messages klezman
rpm wrote:Bump! Are there any particular things within the purview of this thread that people particularly want to talk about these days?



My gf is not a fan of reds, nor many whites, although she loves desert wine. I keep going back and forth between the reason for her dislike of reds, but can't pin it down. She sometimes claims tannin and the drying effects on her mouth. Sometimes she claims it's the acidity that she doesn't like. Except that she generally likes acidity in all her food and drink, especially dessert wine.

So...how might I go about figuring out what sorts of dry wine she might like? Also, how might I more accurately tell apart acidity from tannin when trying to diagnose these issues with her? I tend to think of acidity as providing a nice bright flavour set and a tingling feeling on the sides of my tongue while tannin provides anywhere from a furry tongue to a sense of chewiness in the wine.

2014: 28 bottles. Last wine.woot: Scott Harvey Red Re-Mix
2013: 66 bottles, 2012: 91 bottles, 2011: 92 bottles, 2010: 74 bottles, 2009: 30 bottles, 2008: 3 bottles My CT

rpm


quality posts: 172 Private Messages rpm
klezman wrote:My gf is not a fan of reds, nor many whites, although she loves desert wine. I keep going back and forth between the reason for her dislike of reds, but can't pin it down. She sometimes claims tannin and the drying effects on her mouth. Sometimes she claims it's the acidity that she doesn't like. Except that she generally likes acidity in all her food and drink, especially dessert wine.

So...how might I go about figuring out what sorts of dry wine she might like? Also, how might I more accurately tell apart acidity from tannin when trying to diagnose these issues with her? I tend to think of acidity as providing a nice bright flavour set and a tingling feeling on the sides of my tongue while tannin provides anywhere from a furry tongue to a sense of chewiness in the wine.



Hmmm. This is tough. What does she like in terms of berry and fruit flavors and aromas? Does she like (for example) lemon or lime? Or anything tart?

Or does she insist these flavors be well-sweetened in any dish? Have you tried 'fruit bombs' that lack tannin on her?

Does she use vinegar & oil to dress salads, or does she stick with dressings that are sweeter?

What's her flavor history: that is, what did she eat growing up; what foods does she like/dislike?

Does she like beer? Mexican foods? What cuisines work for her; what do not.

Does she like particular (less than dessert wine sweet) wines better after having started eating than she does before eating?

If you want to go about this (quasi-)scientifically, you have to figure out how she reacts to the basic tastes: sweetness, bitterness, sourness, saltiness, and umami in food generally - not in the context of wine. You might want to work with her in identifying aromas and flavors with the wine aroma wheel in a non-wine context to get used to the terminology.

Then think about how those tastes manifest themselves in the wines she likes and dislikes.

Can you slowly reeducate her taste buds by working at the margin to acclimate her to tastes she 'dislikes' perhaps because she's not familiar with them or associates them with things she dislikes?

Interesting problem!

Wine-tasting in 8 words:
Pull lots of corks!
Remember what you taste!

klezman


quality posts: 122 Private Messages klezman

A bevy of good questions!

rpm wrote:Hmmm. This is tough. What does she like in terms of berry and fruit flavors and aromas? Does she like (for example) lemon or lime? Or anything tart?



She loves berries and lemon and lime in general. In fact, her two most common cooking comments to me (I do most of the cooking) is to add more salt or more acid. She adores key lime pie, lemon curd, etc. She hates things that are "too sweet", although I've yet to really nail down what that is.

rpm wrote:Or does she insist these flavors be well-sweetened in any dish? Have you tried 'fruit bombs' that lack tannin on her?



In short, she likes her berries a little sweeter than I do (e.g. in pie) but not when talking about fresh berries. In that case she likes them just as I do - perfectly ripe to slightly overripe in most cases.

I have tried fruit bombs to the extent that I have any hanging around or that I come across them at friends' houses. Turns out that, in part from your tutelage, I've grown less fond of fruit bombs and more in favour of the classic styles.

At a wedding last night - 4 wine choices. First up, a Mendocino Sauv Blanc (Guenoc), bone dry, grassy to an unpleasant extreme (imo). Neither of us liked that one. Second, Monterey Chardonnay (Fog Head), moderate alcohol, tasted and smelled like it had some older French oak. I quite liked it for sipping, she thought it was pretty decent. Third, 2010 Chilean Cab Sauv. With trepidation, I asked for a splash to taste it. One sniff and I knew I wouldn't like it, one taste confirmed it. All fruit, no acid, strange aftertaste. Didn't even give it to her to taste. Finally, 2006 Mendocino Merlot (Shiloh Road) - this one smelled of fresh berries, earth, and such. Clearly my favourite sipper and for the pork tenderloin we were served. She thought it smelled heavenly, but then did not particularly enjoy drinking it with the food. I think she tried it with the potato, though, which I found highlighted the bitterness and acid rather than the flavour. I suggested she try it with the pork, but it was all gone by then.


rpm wrote:Does she use vinegar & oil to dress salads, or does she stick with dressings that are sweeter?



Her favourite dressing is olive oil and balsamic with a good dose of salt. She adores good quality balsamic.

rpm wrote:What's her flavor history: that is, what did she eat growing up; what foods does she like/dislike?

Does she like beer? Mexican foods? What cuisines work for her; what do not.



Harder question. We have similar tastes, but hers tend a bit more toward the rich/creamy/fatty while simultaneously craving strong acidity and lively flavours. Pad Thai is a great example - the version she prefers is strongly acidic (straight white vinegar mostly, the rest lime juice) with the sweetness downplayed compared to most other versions.

She does not like beer, most Mexican food (esp beans, refried doubly so), and greasy food. Aside from occasional fried chicken cravings, that is. She does not like tomato sauce on her pasta, instead preferring pesto, truffle butter, chutney, goat cheese sauce, etc. She says the taste of cooked tomatoes reminds her of things one wouldn't want to associate with food.

The other thing she can't do is spicy, in the capsaicin sense. Also caffeine, but that doesn't really play into the wine, does it? Although she also dislikes bitterness almost universally, so even when she did have coffee it was doused with milk/cream and sugar.

rpm wrote:Does she like particular (less than dessert wine sweet) wines better after having started eating than she does before eating?



Yes, she does tend to be able to somewhat enjoy a red wine with food, and in small quantities. I tend to pick high acid wines and ones with less tannin when she is around. I keep meaning to get my hands on some Dolcetto to see if that floats her boat. She enjoyed a Monthelie Rouge with the duck breast we did a while back. She will often taste a bit from my glass and pronounce it either "blech", "ok", "I'll have some with food", or "let me get my own glass". I should start keeping better track of the last category - so few examples.

rpm wrote:If you want to go about this (quasi-)scientifically, you have to figure out how she reacts to the basic tastes: sweetness, bitterness, sourness, saltiness, and umami in food generally - not in the context of wine. You might want to work with her in identifying aromas and flavors with the wine aroma wheel in a non-wine context to get used to the terminology.

Then think about how those tastes manifest themselves in the wines she likes and dislikes.

Can you slowly reeducate her taste buds by working at the margin to acclimate her to tastes she 'dislikes' perhaps because she's not familiar with them or associates them with things she dislikes?

Interesting problem!



These are interesting ideas! I shall have to try them. I'm not sure how much effort she wants to expend in developing a taste for the kind of wine I like, but I do get a sense that she wants to be able to enjoy it more.

Interesting note on her dessert wine tastes - she used to love Moscato d'Asti. Now she agrees with me that it's like bland grape-y candy. Now she goes for icewine, a few examples of red port-style wine (Wellington, Twisted Oak, a couple others) and white port, so long as it's not too nutty (Wellington, VJB).

Every time I think I've got something nailed down a bit, a counter-example shows up!

2014: 28 bottles. Last wine.woot: Scott Harvey Red Re-Mix
2013: 66 bottles, 2012: 91 bottles, 2011: 92 bottles, 2010: 74 bottles, 2009: 30 bottles, 2008: 3 bottles My CT