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Wine Speaks a Saucy Language...

12 March 2017

Wine Speaks a Saucy Language

A good bottle of wine on my dinner table is among the things I very much enjoy, and with it comes my weakness for wine lists.
I don’t read these because I always intend to buy the many delights they offer but precisely because I don’t – most of the grand wines are beyond my means and some of them won’t mature until long after I’m dead and gone. Yet, I gain so much pleasure from reading about them – the sort of pleasure that can be compared to that provided by pornography, which gives vicarious fun to someone who hasn’t got the real thing.

The language used to describe wine can certainly be saucy. A recent batch of tasting notes talks of “this lusty, ripe, alluring Viognier”.
A young Claret “is possibly the most sensual I’ve tasted at this nascent juncture”. It’s a wine of “total seduction... velvety, silky, voluptuous and creamy”. The Merlot is “very silky and supple, then it grips, gently at first, and with a velvet-gloved hand...” The 2015 Crozes Hermitage “is sexy, sumptuous, complex and racy”, and also “muscular and powerful”. The 2015 Feytit-Clinet, too, “possesses magnificent intensity to match its virile, brooding personality”.

You get my my drift... But in case you’re not turned on, you will be charmed by other means. We have descriptions of “graphite, smoke, charcoal, violets and a host of intense, dark fruits make a strong first impression” for this virile Feytit-Clinet. Or take the 2015 Haut-Bailly, though it’s not as “sexy as its cousin Smith Haut Lafitte, it’s taut, robust and classical... It builds gently and unfurls to a beautiful peacock’s tail of riberry and minerals”, (riberry is a plant known as lilly pilly). As for Chateau La Violette, the 2015 “has a red cherry, kirsch, bergamot, and dried orange peel scented bouquet that is defined with a touch of puppy fat – it handles the new oaks in stride.”

Supermarkets shelves too boast their own indulgent language – their wines conjure up flavours of ground clove, liquorice, cocoa bean, cedar, walnut, wood spice, roasted herbs, white pepper and even creme Anglaise... The tastes and aromas may come one at time; more often they’re mixed or layered sometimes, they explode. The brew may be animal or mineral, as well as vegetable – smoked meat, sea salt, aged leather and even black ink may be thrown in. Graphite often crops up, its taste I suppose must be known to wine writers if to no one else because I suppose they have to lick their pencils to get them to write. Ripe plums, dark, peppery fruits, damsons, blackcurrants, blueberries, blackberries, raspberry compote all abound. So do notes of pear, peach and apricot – and wild strawberry finish. Wine, it seems, contains every fruit of the field and the forest except Grapes.

Very charming blah-blah...! Wine language is undoubtedly easy to mock and lampoon, but we must have some consideration for the poor taster. It’s not easy to capture the magic of a good wine, as they keep flooding our markets in multitudes, the salesman has to find catchy words for each one of them: “delicious” or “delightful” take him only so far... The riberry may be something of a find but his lexicon is still limited. Unfortunately, with all its richness the English Language still lacks variety. Even the greatest poets couldn’t improve on “I adore you”. So, we can indulge with the wine writer and spare him criticism for his description of 1982 Chateau Trotanoy: “The Trotanoy is a masterful wine. It seems a little distant at first with reluctant aromas of black truffle, blackberry and sous bois, unfurling like a burlesque dancer on a go-slow protest. With time, it exposes a hint of iron filing, then later briary and crushed stone. It’s beautifully balanced with that ferrous leitmotif more pronounced in the mouth than in the nose. There’s a gentle crescendo of flavours that is not as explosive as Lafleur 82, but is perhaps cut from a similar cloth”.
Absolute pleasure!!

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