Sunday, November 28, 2004

Dense and Jammy

My birthday was more than two months ago, but somehow B and I haven’t gotten around to celebrating it properly yet, i.e., going out to eat at a swanky restaurant. We’re going to do that tomorrow. I’m wondering, however, if we will feel out of our depth. One of the wines the restaurant is currently touting is their 2000 Barbera D'Alba La Cresta, Rocche dei Manzoni from the Piemonte region of Italy. Here’s a description:

Wow! Rich nose of dark fruit, licorice and PENCIL SHAVINGS. Sensuous,
fabulous texture. Dense and jammy.

Do I feel like a philistine! I didn’t know that hints of pencil shavings were a desirable quality in wine. I am definitely going to order this stuff. I wonder (hayseed that I am) if I will be able to detect the dark fruit or will it be overpowered by the pencil shavings--or the licorice? What is "dark fruit" anyway? I am intrigued no end, but if the wine sucks, I will most certainly send it back for something less dense, less jammy, and without quite so many pencil shavings in it.


Blogger Jamie said...

Eh. It's all subjective. Usually the only thing I can ever agree on with other people is "blackberry."

My dad once produced a stunning Beaujolais Nouveau (one of my favorites of all time) with a decided banana nose to it. "Is that an acceptable nose for a wine to have?" I asked him. "Yes," he replied. "But it was perilously close to bubble gum, which is not."

6:56 PM  
Blogger Rozanne said...

Jamie, A banana nose? That conjures up a rather comic visual image for me. I'll take your word for it, though, that the Beaujolais Nouveau was good. But pencil shavings? How can that be an acceptable nose? Maybe they've hit upon a brilliant marketing strategy--describe a wine in such perplexing terms that people will be driven--purely out of curiosity--to try it.

9:13 AM  
Blogger Jamie said...

Maybe they're trying to come up with an innovative (*cough* snobby *cough*) way of saying "woody" and "carbon-y". :-)

From what little I know (which mostly comes from getting a complimentary sub to Wine Spectator for a year, which I would totally do again if I could scam it somehow), the weird-o overtones in wine such as "fresh dirt", "saddle leather", "tobacco", "chalk", etc., tend to come from things other than the grapes themselves, e.g., soil types and such, and they become more evident with aging. This is probably one of those kind of things. Try it and tell me if I should get some!

And happy late birthday!

11:29 AM  
Blogger Rozanne said...

Jamie, Clearly, you are the go-to person for wine. I'm sure I could actually get into the soil chemisty/climate/grape cultivar aspect of wine production.

So if "tobacco" and "saddle leather" fly as descriptors, then "pencil shavings" hardly seems cringeworthy. It's probably best that I don't try to educate my palate. Ignorance is bliss. I'm perfectly content to limit myself $10 or less bottles from Trader Joe's and reserve the pencil shavings and chalk for specical occasions.

3:22 PM  
Blogger Jamie said...

Well, if I am the go-to person (which is very flattering, and a stretch to say the least!), then here is my current advice:

Lindeman's (the Australian wine producer) has a delicious, fruity-tasting grenache/shiraz blend for $10 a bottle.

You're right, you don't need dirt and leather and pencil shavings in your drinks! I like those kinds of things sometimes, but mostly I tend to feel that the simpler the wine, the better it goes with food, glorious food. :-)

10:19 AM  

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