Wine Words 4

Now to look at 2 different kinds of descriptors, both (ironically) rather hard to describe.  The first has risen in popularity over the past decade, whilst the second might feel more resonant of times past, but most definitely translates to a very of-the-moment sensation.




Minerality | mɪnəræləti |


Refers to both taste & aroma of a wine & very much a reflection of what soil the vines are planted in. Can be salty or flinty & with a lively essence, mineral wines dance on your tastebuds & feel of the earth.


Like: a fresh oyster


For example: “The wine exhibits an intense minerality along with a blue/purple fruit character as well as both the terroir’s and vintage’s tell-tale floral notes. More showy and denser than some recent vintages, it possesses sweet tannin, full body, and admirable richness as well as length. It will require 3-4 years of bottle age, and should drink well for two decades.”


Robert Parker reviewing Beausejour Duffau 2008




Sumptuous bouquet | səmptʃwəs buke |


Refers to the aroma of a wine – a smell that affects all your senses with a rich, deep & sometimes emotional resonance. This sensory overload often translates into how you will taste the wine as tastebuds have already been sufficiently tantalised.


Like: the first lift of the tagine lid before serving


For example: “One of the finest under-the-radar estates in Pessac-Leognan, Haut-Bergey’s 2005 (a blend of 65% Cabernet Sauvignon and 35% Merlot) offers up aromas of scorched earth, wet stones, burning embers, charcoal, and copious black currant and cherry fruit. The sumptuous bouquet is accompanied by a full-bodied wine displaying dazzling purity, sweet tannin, and a long, opulent finish. This beauty will be drinkable at a relatively early age for a 2005. Anticipated maturity: 2010-2025.”


Robert Parker reviewing Haut Bergey 2005



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  • Top 10 Wine Quotes

    As one of languages great looseners, it should come as no surprise that there is no shortage of wise wine words in our world.  From the Greeks to the Romans, religious leaders to writing greats, leading pioneers to, ahem, Basil Fawlty; it appears that most of the worlds greatest thinkers & creators just so happened to like doing so with a glass of wine in their hand (Mr Fawlty perhaps came a cropper in not drinking enough of the stuff).

    Herewith a round-up of the Top 10, which could easily have been a Top 20+..


    “Quickly, bring me a beaker of wine, so that I may wet my mind and say something clever”

    Aristophanes (c. 446BC – c.386BC)

    A great Greek wit, also known a the ‘Father of Comedy’, Aristophanes was pretty good at saying clever things. And now we have an authentic testimonial as to what provided his cerebral inspiration.


    “In wine there is truth. (in vino veritas)”

    Pliny the Elder (AD 23 – AD 79)

    One of the most famous wine quotes & with good cause; Pliny the Elder, like any good straight-roaded Roman, has left a legacy that works in most languages & is ever used by other authors, merchants & even growers themselves.


    “Wine makes daily living easier, less hurried & with fewer tensions and more tolerance.”

    Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790)

    If it’s good enough for a man who is considered one of the founding fathers of the American state & could list inventor, diplomat, author, political theorist & printer among his many achievements/roles, then it’ll do for us. And that’s one busy mind to calm.


    “Wine is the most healthful and most hygienic of beverages.”

    Louis Pasteur (1822 – 1895)

    French chemist & microbiologist Pasteur’s progressions in the prevention of disease & infection has saved & continues to save lives all over the world. High falooting praise indeed.


    “In victory, you deserve champagne. In defeat you need it.”

    Napolean Bonaparte (1769-1821)

    Luckily Napoleon’s feuds generally left him deserving of his tipple of choice, but it’s good to think that he had a good 6 years of quaffing to toast off his final defeat in 1815.


    “God made only water, but man made wine.”
    (“Dieu n’avait fait que l’eau, mais l’homme a fait le vin”)

    Victor Hugo (1802 – 1855)

    Wise words from a man many considered God’s gift to French literature, or the West-End at least. Unfortunately the Euro curtailed his permanent deification when it ousted the Franc (on a 500 note, no less).


    “Be careful to trust a man who does not like wine.”

    Karl Marx (1818 – 1883)

    As one of the most influential thinkers in the history of humankind, not to mention sporter of one of the best beards, Marx clouts in with a not insubstantial amount of trustability.


    “Men are like wine – some turn to vinegar, but the best improve with age.”

    Pope John XXIII (1881 – 1963)

    Given his ripe old age of election, one might assume Pope John XXIII knew a thing or two about how men should age. How much he knew about wine only those lucky enough to receive communion from him will know, although one suspects he was very wise about both.


    “Language is wine upon the lips.”

    Virginia Woolf (1882 – 1941)

    If Woolf’s wine was poured with as much lyrical abandon as her words, she was a very lucky lady indeed. Perhaps we should all take a leaf out of her book; or indeed sip out of the glass.


    “I can certainly see you know your wine. Most of the guests who stay here wouldn’t know the different between Bordeaux & Claret.”

    Basil Fawlty (ran 1975 – 1979)

    John Cleese’s iconic Basil Fawlty trumps in with a faux-pas, yet again, as he tries his best & fails to charm the very class he loves to hate in the ramshackle & ever-choatic Fawlty Towers. We suspect Manuel was dispatched to do some hefty head-scratching in the cellar once the order was taken.


    So there we have it, & with ample in reserve, but somehow it feels apt to let Basil Fawlty wallow a little longer.   Here’s to opening a bottle & stumbling across great ravines of our minds as yet undiscovered!



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  • News: Robert Parker – Bordeaux En Primeur

    What will it mean for the industry?

    Last Thursday globally renowned critic Robert Parker announced his handover of tasting (& of course scoring..) Bordeaux En Primeur to British Wine Advocate taster, Neal Martin. It was a move that many knew was inevitable, most of all Mr Parker himself who, back in a 2012 Liv-ex interview, revealed this had been his intention since employing Neal.



    Parker’s influence on the world of wine is undeniable: the creator of the 100 point rating system who made his name through recognizing the brilliance of 1982 has, ever since, dominated the market of wines he scored. He cites it being the “perfect time for me to hand over” En Primeur, although he will keep tasting from the bottle as “I love the wines”.


    Speculation around the timing of this news will, of course, circulate. The hugely inflated En Primeur prices from 2011-2013 that caused prices to fall from barrel (where En Primeur is tasted & sold) to bottle have tarnished the reputation of the system, & indeed Bordeaux as a whole. These over-inflated prices were seen as a result of a combination of Bordelais’ greed & Parker’s scores.


    So what will this mean for the industry, & specifically En Primeur? Neal Martin is a well-respected critic & writer, known to be a more conservative scorer & to favour a more delicate wine style to Parker’s big-hitters. This could, as many hope, make for a more sensibly priced system. And perhaps a greater diversity of blends within Bordeaux.



    However, with Parker still scoring wines from the bottle, this could pave the way for score-savvy Bordelais’ to preempt how the two will work together & be more selective as to what is tasted en primeur vs the end blended result.


    Bordeaux wines have always led the fine wine market, & will continue to do so. Huge pressure is now on the Bordelais for 2014; change being a great leveler, especially for the chateaux who rather played the system both in terms of style & pricing.


    Either way, change is afoot in a region that arguably needs it, & having a range of critics, rather than everything hanging off one score can be no bad thing for the industry as a whole. We wish all parties, critics & wine-makers alike, the very best for the 2014 vintage.



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  • Calendar month ahead – March

    March sees a wide range of workshops & masterclasses spring up across the country.. From Bordeaux to Austria to the Tuscan Hills, there’s always space to learn.

    It also just so happens to be Comic Relief month, with the industry’s Wine Relief launching it’s first consumer tasting up in Edinburgh (in the form of a Wine Fare, 12th March) & a very special charity gig down in London (see Skin Contact Live on 9th March).. so something for everyone AND for a good cause!


    Sunday 1st March
    Newcastle Wine Fare
    Assembly Rooms Newcastle


    Monday 2nd March
    Pol Roger Champagne Tasting
    Vivat Bacchus, 47 Farringdon Street


    Tuesday 3rd March
    Armit Italian Wine Tasting
    LSO St Luke’s, Old Street, London


    Wednesday 4th March
    French Classics Wine Tasting
    Scotch Malt Whiskey Society, Edinburgh


    Thursday 5th March
    Chateauneuf-du-Pape & Satellites
    LSE, London


    Saturday 7th March
    Decanter Inaugural Mediterranean Grand Tasting
    Landmark Hotel, London

    Meet the Cru
    Fulham, London


    Monday 9th March

    ‘The Odd Bods’, Grape School
    Divine Cellars Clapham

    Skin Contact Live in aid of Wine Relief
    Vinopolis, SE1 London


    Wednesday 11th March
    Spanish Classics Masterclass
    Scotch Malt Whiskey Society, Edinburgh


    Thursday 12th March
    Comic Relief Wine Fare
    Assembly Rooms, Edinburgh

    Meet the Cru
    Fulham, London


    Saturday 14th March
    ‘World of Wine’ Experience tasting day
    Princes Dock, Liverpool


    Monday 16th March
    ‘Sweet & Fizzy’, Grape School
    Divine Cellars Clapham, London

    Bordeaux 1996 Horizontal
    West London Wine School, Fulham

     Wine Pairing with Food
    Vivat Bacchus


     Tuesday 17th March tutored tasting: Alternative Varieties
    Quality Chop House, London


    Thursday 19th March
    Fine Austrian & German Classics
    Scotch Malt Whiskey Society, Edinburgh


    Monday 23rd March
    Rhone Valley Masterclass
    West London Wine School, Fulham


    Tuesday 24th March
    Artisan Spanish Wine Tasting
    La Raza, Cambridge

    Wine Tasting & Antipasti
    Jamie’s Italian, Bristol

    France under One Roof
    Royal Horticultural Halls


    Thursday 26th March
    Fine Italian Classics
    Scotch Malt Whiskey Society, Edinburgh

     The new Douro
    Residence of Portuguese Ambassador, Belgrave Square

     Meet the Cru
    Fulham, London


    Saturday 28th March
    ThirtyFifty One Day Wine Course
    Brasserie Blanc, London


    Tuesday 31st March tutored tasting: Riesling
    Quality Chop House, London






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