Do We Really Need Tasting Notes?

"Wine is the prism we look through to the past while enjoying the present." - @twomey Winemaker Erin Miller

I being the contrarian that I'm known to be, I take significant exception to the wild-eyed assertions from the highly esteemed Mr. Asimov, with a fresh attack on the notion of tasting notes and wine reviews in general. Do I think he was speaking to me directly? Of course not, that would be quite silly. Further, it's highly unlikely he has any idea this counterpoint article exists. But that said, the tasting notes I write are not here just for my "self-indulgent" purposes; my god if that were the case, I wouldn't even bother to keep a blog or a Twitter, Instagram and/or FB account. If you have been a reader of the blather I type here, even if has been a short amount of time, then you'd quickly realize it's (this site) nothing of the sort as suggested by Mr. Asimov in his recent article.

The 'guy' makes his living, 'writing' tasting notes and last time I checked writing such a note is part of the wine review process, and typically part of building the story behind the label. For him or any other wine writer to suggest that writing a tasting note about a wine sent for the review process or encountered by whatever other means is a bad thing. To me, that statement is near the withering heights of hypocrisy, and believe me, and it's quite balmy up there. Thusly (archaic language oh-my), I say, good sir, please, oh please, give me a break!

My intended purpose [for writing a tasting note] is to encourage exploration of the wine world and exuberance for said discovery. Secondly, it's an effort to help [assist] keep folks from being locked into drinking the same wines over and over by suggesting alternatives. There's a considerable wine-world out there, and the tasting notes I write are nothing but a mere signpost on the highway, pointing the way to exploration and filling in any unexpected expectations.

Now to the reason, I think tasting notes, such as those waiting to be read below, are in my view, beneficial. Not only those which I write, or type out via various social media platforms but those of other writers, commenters and so on, who can help with a buying decision. The wine's which appear in today's review is the types of wine which if it had NOT been for the tasting note I'm about to write the article about these wines would have been needlessly unhelpful to me and anyone else considering purchasing it. Now with all that said, the rant is complete, and I will ride off on my trusty steed once more, in search of another tilting windmill to charge with reckless abandon. Now please enjoy the following reviews of four somewhat iconic French wines which are sure to be a shining star in your glass. 

Joseph Drouhin, 2011 Pinot Noir, Cote de Nuits Villages: For folks paying attention to such things, 2011 was not a banner year for wine producers in the Northern Hemisphere. So, the fact that this wine was a bit thinner on the flavor continuum should speak volumes to the summer with little if any sun at all.  In the glass, this wine was more brick colored than red, which I thought was unusual for wine this youthful. After all, 2011 was not all that long ago; I suspect some subtle oxidation is going on, perhaps at bottling or as an issue with the cork.

The clarity was clear. I found this wine to be very aromatic, sadly, those aromas did not carry over to the palate. Still dancing away in abundance, aromas of barnyard funk, damp earth, freshly picked mushrooms, Bing cherries, sage, and beets.  Taste-wise, I found this wine dry, balanced, with a medium minus body, medium plus tannins. Flavor descriptors were few, tart Bing cherry, roasted beets, a whiff of sandalwood and overall just a bit too austere. The finish was a medium plus. A recommended pairing with the correct cheeses and charcuterie, this wine's acid would be a pleasing aperitif.  I’m a big fan of this producer, overall, but sadly on its own, this is not a bottle of wine I’d recommend.

E. Guigal GSM 2011, Gigondas: Although it was a bleak year for many winemakers, 2011 for the southern Rhone was a year for restraint. Seldom is there an opportunity for such things in the southern Rhone as temperatures average quite high during the growing season, but the modest temps of 2011 helped to keep things in check for those in search of ‘balance.' In the glass, the appearance is a medium plus, the stem, and my finger was still easily observed through the core of the wine. The color was a ruby red, and clarity was clear. The aromas of meaty plums, spice, cut black tea, dried orange rinds danced above the glass, effortlessly. On the palate, the taste was dry, balanced, medium plus body, and medium plus tannins. Flavors, of black cherry, dark plum, subtle allspice, dried orange rinds, and trail dust. I’m a big fan of this producer, but this wine barely registered too much in the way of enthusiasm. But if I had to pair with this wine, I’d choose some grilled meats, and picnic fixings to accompany.

While many folks familiar with the Rhone Zone, adore and admire longingly what some call the prestigious Northern Rhone regions, like Hermitage. The truth is the north only accounts for about 5% of all production of the entire Rhone Zone. The remaining 95% produced in the south under far-less-prestigious and lesser-known names. Like that of Gigondas, a region which provides some mighty excellent juice itself, with somewhat affordable price tags.

When it comes to this producer, one of whom I’ve uncorked many delightful gems over the years, I think Mr. Robert Parker [love him or loathe him, you decide] sums up my point for me wonderfully.  In an interview, he commented on Marcel Guigal that. 

"In the past 20 years I have spent visiting wineries and vignerons, I have never seen a producer so fanatical about quality as Marcel Guigal." 

To that praise, I give a hearty Amen! I’ve sold boatloads of this gentlemen’s wines over the years, and the price points, flavor profile, of his basic Cote du Rhone, is crazy good. Any domestically produced blend similar to its overall quality would be thrice the price. I always recommend to people, who may be perusing a wine list, if they see the name E. Guigal, just order it and enjoy.

Langlois-Chateau, White Sancerre, Loire Valley: I’m a big-time fan of this region, even though Sauvignon Blanc made domestically is mostly underwhelming at best. That said, this bottle was textbook. An excellent pick for the class to discover the roots of Sauvignon Blanc, focused, bright and beautiful. In the glass, the color is light, colored with a faint tinge of straw. The clarity is crystal clear, with a thin watery rim. Aromas of grapefruit, lemongrass, and white flower wafting slowing from the glass. The taste profile; it was bone dry, very crisp, the body was light, the tannins nearly nonexistent. On the palate, more white flowers, subtle chalkiness, lemongrass, citrus, and a tart kiss on the medium finish.

Joseph Drouhin, Pouilly-Fuisse: Another entertaining and exciting region to explore, especially for those seeing familiar wine bearing grapes, like this Chardonnay, in a completely different style. The bottle, the flavors mostly appeared to be alien. In the glass, this was medium in appearance, a vivid straw core, and the clarity was quite clear. Aromatics were plentiful, white flower, freshly sliced honey crisp apples, white smoke, and citrus. The taste profile, this was made dry, only 13% abv, it was very fresh and crisp, the body was a light plus, the tannins low. The flavor descriptors sadly did not mirror the nose, tart apples, citrus, wet stone minerality. The finish was a medium plus. A delightful food pairing choice with whole roasted chicken and linguini smothered in alfredo sauce.

Do you desire or want #wine advice from the ‘real’ world? Tired of reading about or seeing elusive and overly expensive 'brag' bottles posted on various social media channels? Are you ready to just say "no" to brag bottles? If so, then please #StayTuned but if not simply turn the channel to grab the latest #wine su·per·la·tives from a variety of the wine-chattering class and be prepared to clap and fawn like trained seals. That said, on this blog, my opinions are my own, and I, above all else I #KeepItReal. Until next time remember, compromise is for relationships, not wine, so as always please continue to sip long and prosper cheers!

Full Disclosure: Reviewed wines are (typically) from media samples provided solely (not for sale) for the review process.

All original content: Including text and photographs remain the copyright of the author, (W.R. Eyer) except where otherwise noted or absent the watermark.


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