Tag Archives: aromas

Sunday Read: Wine Fundamentals Part 4 – FEW

When we try wines with friends, one of the consistent topics that comes up in discussion is how to describe wine. It seems tricky, and the more elaborate the descriptors (the worst I have heard of is “women rider saddle after a hard ride”, yes, that happened!), the more intimidating it can be. I always encourage everyone around me to say what comes to mind….imagine the sick mind that came up with the descriptor I just mentioned! On the other hand: We have all sorts of weird smells stored in our brains (from our childhood mostly). And so if a wine smells like, say, old socks, then say so. Nothing is too crazy. Just go for it. Wine is, among many other things, a communicator. And only when we talk about what we smell or taste in a free and open way, without being intimidated about embarrassing ourselves, can we really enjoy the conversational part and the wine itself.

As with everything, there are some basics, and my new found friends over at Parade magazine, Allie and Melissa (we met at VinItaly), wrote a great piece about these basics a while back. The key is “FEW”, which stands for fruit, earth and wood, which make up the components of wine aroma. They go through all three with helpful examples, and do so in an entertaining way that does it’s job: Take away the intimidation factor.

One of the key takeaways for me has been that I need to smell everything around me, apples in the supermarket, the fresh ground coffee I put in my espresso tin can, the rusty spots in our mailbox. Only if our brain knows what something smells like we can identify that in the wines we drink. My case in point is gooseberry: I often find gooseberry in wines (a German obsession of a tart, yet sweet berry), while most of my American friends have no idea what a gooseberry is and therefore cannot identify it. The beauty of all of this is that flavors are subjective, shaped by our perceptions and knowledge. As with most knowledge, we get better as we practice.

If you want to learn more about these, head over to Allie and Mel’s article. I found it very enlightening!

Happy Sunday!

Allie and Mel Uncorked: Wine Fundamentals Part 4 – FEW

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2011 Argyle Pinot Noir

2011 Argyle Pinot Noir

2011 Argyle Pinot Noir

I ordered the 2011 Argyle Pinot Noir, the Oregon winery’s entry-level Pinot, last spring, and finally got around to tasting it. It has gotten quite the bad rap on Cellartracker with an average rating of 85.3 points, and some pretty scathing reviews, calling it boring, tart, disjointed, unbalanced etc.

I don’t know. This was my first wine from Argyle, but I remembered when ordering the bottle that my Pinot-nut buddy Jeff The Drunken Cyclist has a thing for the winery, the price was right (around $15), and so I ordered the bottle. I bet I should have let it sit for much longer, but yesterday was the night I opened it.

When I poured the wine, I was delighted because it had the right color. Some of you may remember that I tend to open American Pinots with a tad trepidation because I often find it hit or miss. When I open a Pinot Noir, I am looking for a light, brickish red color, not a Cabernet Sauvignon dark. So this was had just the right color for me. Sniffing the first swirls, I couldn’t help but be struck by how much it smelled of freshly pureed raspberries. It was a combination of this berry and quite noticeable acidic aromas that made for a very fresh initial impression. Then, some metallic aromas (rust) crept in, which was a bit weird. I liked the first 2/3s of the wine when I tried it: it was light-bodied, nicely fruity but with a quite strong acidity, again aromas of raspberries. The metallic notes persisted, but not too prominent. The finish was a tad bitter, and disappointing. Not much length there. Over the next hour or so, aromas of dark chocolate started to come to life and there were some herbal aromas coming in.

What’s the take on it? Definitely not a complex or outstanding wine, but also not bad. We’re talking about an entry level wine after all! The $15 seemed a bit high, but then again we are moving in Pinot Noir territory from Oregon, so prices are higher in general.

It did seem somewhat unbalanced with its strong acidity, but then again I am not really averse to higher acidity if it does not turn into vinegar. And this one did not taste vinegary to me. The aromas were good (loved those pureed raspberries), except for the weird metallic note. I think this is a decent drinker, not sure what to pair it with. Definitely would give it some time in the bottle, and also let it air for a while before you drink it. It pulled itself together after a while.

Final verdict? Decent and I welcomed the old world style. Check out the video fellow blogger Jeff of Stay Rad posted when he tasted the wine (which he seemed to like quite a bit!).

@Jeff The Drunken Cyclist: I could have thrown in that it is a mystery to me why some reviews on Cellartracker were so harsh, but that would be trying to cheat my way into the MWWC. Sorry I didn’t make the cut this time around…

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