I was at a tasting of some Spanish wines yesterday that featured a moderator and a panel of winemakers talking about their wines and those of a few others. Although the winemakers noted aspects of the production and viticulture of each of the wines, what they mainly described was the way that each wine tasted and smelled. “That’s because most wine writers can’t come up with adjectives of their own,” a wine writer next to me, darkly observed. (He’s one of the more cynical members of the profession – but a trenchant observer all the same.)
As the winemakers rhapsodized about the “stone fruits, the mineral notes, the apricot essence, the white flowers and the acacia,” they found in glass after glass, I began to feel weighed down by the sheer adjectival profusion- not to mention their inescapable repetitiveness. Indeed, one of the last winemakers to speak made the mocking complaint that the others before him had “taken all the descriptors” and that was pretty much how I felt. Of course, I also began to feel rather rebellious: the more white flowers I was told I to expect, the smaller I found their bouquet in my own glass.
Why, In wonder is this sort of thing an acceptable procedure in most ‘guided tastings’ for both amateurs and professionals alike? Do they really believe it's hard to come up with words of one's own? And if so, why not just pass out a vocabulary list beforehand and say, “Circle the ones that you think apply to each wine”?
One wine that I tasted and loved (but found no white flowers to speak of, anywhere around) was the 2008 Pazo de Senorans Albarino- a delightfully bright and refreshing Spanish white with a zippy acidity that seemed to simply bound out of the glass. At $16 a bottle, it’s one of my perennial favorites from this north western region of Spain and is imported by European Cellars (www.europeancellars.com)