jamie goode's wine blog: Thoughts on blind tasting, and stuff...

Friday, May 23, 2008

Thoughts on blind tasting, and stuff...

So I spent the day in the office. When I went freelance I thought I'd be spending a lot of days working from home. It has actually been much busier than I'd envisaged, so I haven't had all that many days when I've not been going out to work elsewhere.

The way I prefer to work is in bursts. I like to work really hard, and then take it a bit easier. I aim to try to get some work/life balance where I'm not crazy busy all the time. To make this work with the family, I work unusual hours - quite often, I'm working late at night simply because this means I'm more available when the kids are around. The other factor is the 'muse': when you are writing, some times are unpredictably much more fertile than others - you have to run with this.

So what did I do today? I finished a piece on the perception of wine that looked at studies investigating what happens in the brain when we taste wine. I did some invoicing. I wrote an annoyed email to a car hire company who were being arseholes about a one-day rental Fiona made last month (a long story). I spent a while on the phone to Susanna from Imbibe magazine who is doing a really interesting piece on wine preservation devices, and wanted some technical input. I walked RTL. I helped Fiona bath RTL (a traumatic process). I played three games of Top Trumps with younger son, losing 2-1. I mowed the lawn. I fired up the barbie. And I responded to Fiona's challenge and tasted three wines blind.

The blind tasting was difficult, as it often is. The first wine was tricky: it was red, and sweet enough to be new world, but then again it was savoury enough to be ripe old world. There wasn't the complexity for it to be serious old world, but then it wasn't sweet and simple.

It was impossibly hard to place. I guessed South Africa, then Chile, then Italy, then France, before hitting the mark with Australia. It was the De Bortoli Yarra Valley Shiraz Viognier 2004. Tasting it unblind, though, I'm getting lovely dark peppery cool climate Syrah fruit that I didn't get blind. Blind, I got more of the ripeness/greenness contrast. [So is this the power of suggestion at work, or just that when I taste unblind my perception receives input from my memory and knowledge of wine that then helps me to make more of the sensory information I am getting?] It was the greenness that led me to Chile and South Africa, but because I now know this is from the Yarra, I'm not as afraid of the greenness.

The second wine was white, but it wasn't obviously Chardonnay or Sauvignon. I couldn't spot oak, but there was a rounded texture. It was actually a Chardonnay Reserve from Finca Flichman, but, almost bizarrely, it tasted like a rich unoaked Italian Pinot Grigio. Really tough blind. Finally, I was poured a vile, slightly oxidised Chardonnay - it turned out to be a supermarket entry level Chilean Chardonnay fro 2005 that hadn't survived well.

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At 6:45 AM, Anonymous keith prothero said...

So there is good greenness and not so good greenness. I assume the greenness in South African wine is because you think it may be due to a wine fault,possibly leaf roll fruit,whereas the greenness in Australia is for sound winemaking reasons.
Would appreciate your clarification Jamie.

At 7:32 PM, Anonymous Gretchen said...

What a sporting wife you have. Wish my husband would do a blind tasting for me.

At 10:48 PM, Blogger Jamie said...

I think there is good greenness and bad greenness - it depends on the context of the wine. In a young wine, sometimes greenness resolves quite well, providing it isn't too dominant. The reason I made the comment about South Africa versus Australia is that I don't find greenness to be a problem with most Australian wines, and even in the Aussie reds that show a little in youth, it does tend to resolve. Of course, if South African reds show just a touch, that's OK too. But often they show more than just a touch, and frequently it's something that doesn't resolve - it can end up making the wines taste quite medicinal. I particularly don't like wines that show under-ripeness in tandem with over-ripeness. But, you know me, Keith - I try to be open minded and I'm a champion of good wines wherever they come from, and have been an advocate of many SAfrican wines over the last couple of years - as well as a critic of some of the less good ones. I hope this helps, although I suspect it may just add to the confusion caused by my initial imprecise use of language.

At 10:49 PM, Blogger Jamie said...

Gretchen, she is very sporting. It's fun to taste blind.

At 6:13 AM, Anonymous keith prothero said...

Interesting explanation Jamie.
Personally I do not like greenness in any red wine although I rarely find it in Aussie wines,perhaps because I never drink Aussie wines without at least 10 years bottle age.
I suspect in your job you have to drink far more wines younger than either you or indeed the winemaker would like,and hence you may come across greenness more frequently than myself.


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