"Western science has traditionally identified four basic tastes: sweet, sour, salty and bitter, determined by cognate taste receptors on various parts of the tongue. Culinary tradition has maintained that those four tastes combine to make all known flavors."
"..isolated and identified at least one element of the Umami taste - the amino acid glutamate. Umami is perhaps as difficult to translate into English as the French word Terroir. Linguists have suggested that Umami (pronounced oo-mom'-ee) has English equivalents, such as savory, essence, pungent, deliciousness, and meaty. "
MSG anyone? It's true, MSG is designed to trigger your Umami taste receptors. It seems to be a way of making otherwise simple/plain cuisine taste more perfect, more delicious.
The big question, however, is this: Do Kalin's wines deliver the Umami; or is it all just marketing hoo-ha? Let's find out..
Kalin Cellars is located in Marin County - north of San Francisco. However, their Semillon comes from a single vineyard source in the Livermore Valley. Kalin's Semillon (actually 75% Semillon; 25% Sauvignon Blanc) grapes are from the historic Wente estate vineyard. Wente's vines are the progeny of French vine cuttings brought to California in the 1880s. The vine source is none other than the world famous Chateau d’Yquem (producers of wines that command several hundred dollars per bottle).
To my (limited) knowledge, Kalin is the only California winemaker that takes the credo, “We sell no wine before its time,” to the extreme. It ages wine from three to ten (yes, 10) years before release. Kalin’s 1994 Semillon is the current release of this wine. The result is an otherworldly wine that nearly defies description.
Kalin Cellars Livermore Valley Semillon, 1995 ($30)
- Yellow-green-gold in the glass with some rusty brown undertones. To my surprise, the rim seemed quite thin and somewhat watery (odd for an aged wine)
- My brain can only come up with two adjectives after the first whiff: caramel tomato (!!). After 20+ minutes in the glass things got interesting. the wine conjured up scents of butter, chalk, banana, butterscotch, and toffee
- Kalin Semillon doesn't disappoint the mouth. There are zero fruity flavors. Rather my tongue is coated with earthy-funky flavors. At first the wine seems delicate on the tongue. Yet it kicks back with gusto to produce a tangy, caramel-y, lonnnnng finish.
***** (5 stars out of 5)
This, my friends, is a mature, incredibly unique wine. Cough up the thirty bucks and experience something I never knew a California vintner could produce. Umami, indeed. Kalin Semillon is fan-damn-tastic as a wine-person experience. However, mature wines do amazing things to food. Try it with braised chicken & leeks. And then tell me you don't want to try every single wine Kalin produces.