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22 September 2005

brown spice-accented peaches

Shakespearer_2Back in June, Beau snarked about wine words he hates.

I had to revisit that post yesterday when reading about Robert Parker’s Wine of the Day. Here’s some of his review:

The 2004 Gruner Veltliner Weinzierlberg, harvested mid-November, offers ripe aromas of brown spice-accented peaches and plums as well as Veltliner-typical snap peas. The palate is sappy and fruit filled, with plenty of cut, clarity, and crisp vegetable, juicy pit fruit, and tart red raspberry character. The finish is long and refreshing, with subtly salty suggestions of minerality…”

Huh? Can someone tell me what the hell “brown spice-accented peaches” are? Would those be brown spices or brown peaches? Lots of the spices in my cabinet are brown (cinnamon and nutmeg, cumin and coriander, just to name a few), and the only brown peach I’ve ever seen is the one I found rotting behind my fruit bowl. How about the palate being “sappy”? Okay, if I let my imagination run wild, maybe. But having plenty of “cut, clarity, and crisp vegetable, juicy pit fruit”? Anyone??

Is this review really written to inform and describe a wine, or merely to flaunt his own absurd loquaciousness? I respect Parker’s intelligence and his contributions to the wine world. But unfortunately, many people are still intimidated by wine, and this esoteric crazy-speak certainly doesn’t help. Maybe Parker should take up poetry?

--WG

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Listed below are links to weblogs that reference brown spice-accented peaches:

» Wine Writing. from Spittoon.biz
Beau in a post titled Brown Spice-Accented Peaches had a great discussion going last week about the style of certain writers tasting notes. I found a couple of poetic tasting notes in a Spanish/English wine magazine; inspiring. "We stand before two ver... [Read More]

» Wine Writing. from Spittoon.biz
Beau in a post titled Brown Spice-Accented Peaches had a great discussion going last week about the style of certain writers tasting notes. I found a couple of poetic tasting notes in a Spanish/English wine magazine; inspiring. "We stand before two ver... [Read More]

Comments

Andrew

Oh grief it sounds like something I might write. Not the 'brown' bit though or sappy (what is sappy? stuff from trees?). I dont understand 'cut'. I dont know 'pit fruit' either. But apart from that I could have penned the note.

beau

Gulp. I'm guilty too. I've read some of my recent notes and a few adjectives need to be tossed out. But then, one can only write, "crisp fruit" so many times..

Steve-o

"Cut" might mean acidity...

I hate the catch-alls of "pit fruit" and similar "red fruit" etc. Pit fruits include plums, cherries, peaches, etc - not exactly a similar flavor profile amongst all pit fruit. (likewise, "red fruit" - well, that could be strawberries, raspberries, cherries, etc. Even saying "sweet berries" would be better than "red fruit").

The mind boggles at this stuff - it all sounds good, but means nothing other than "ode to a bottle of ______."

WG

Oh yeah, I’m guilty of writing some reviews that I’ve gone back and cringed at (Andrew: I did WSET Diploma too, so I know how pedantic one can get with a tasting note). But this one is just senseless…I also struggled with “cut”, though Steve-o could have something there with acidity. BTW, an avocado is a pit fruit too, but not juicy and probably not what RP had on his mind (maybe he saves “creamy pit fruit” for that one) :P

beau

"Ode to bottle of ________"
Steve - I agree. Yet as I type this, I'm drinking a diet cola and nothing other than, "vile bubbly substance" comes to mind. I do think sniffing a glass of wine does bring out the poet in many of us.

However, I will say that some wines are just simple. I can't think of 3 adjectives to describe their scents. So, from now on, I'll try to avoid adjective creation for undeserving wine.

Catherine Granger

Some time ago, Hugh Johnson from Decanter wrote an article entitled "Riesling? Or fruit salad?". The discussion was whether a Riesling (or any other wine for that matter) should be described best in terms of apples, pears, lemons, peaches and oranges, or simply by saying that it "tastes like Riesling".
I like the way he concluded: “The challenge is qualifying rather than describing. What attributes make this wine a good choice? What are its strengths and weaknesses? It is structure and balance that make good wine, not oranges and lemons. Treat your reader as an adult, or rather than fruit-driven, it will be fruit drivel.”

beau

Catherine - Good points. I do see one obstacle for many wine drinkers: What exactly does 'proper' Riesling smell/taste like. I see Hugh's point for experienced wine tasters. However, for folks who drink wine once per week, descriptive terms do help.

Focusing on the structure of a wine is a good idea. I would like to know how heavy a wine is, how crisp it is, if it finishes hot, etc. This is one area where tasting notes/wine reviews often provide too little information (although this isn't quite as fun as reading about blossoms and red fruits).

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