Sunday, April 6, 2008

Tasting Notes, Vinography Style

...the effect of drinking a Pan Galactic Gargle Blaster is like having your brains smashed out by a slice of lemon wrapped around a large gold brick. - Douglas Adams

...the wine was like satin, but with a print on it. - Jancis Robinson

While I dream of one day writing a tasting note as memorable, punchy, and utterly useless as the above examples, Alder Yarrow at provides constant inspiration with his consistently eloquent and detailed notes. Add his superbly wrought background profiles on producers and regions, which preface his concise tasting notes, and it's no wonder he has won a bouquet of accolades for his long-running blog.

As an exercise I have reworked two tasting notes in vinography fashion. These tastings stand out in my mind not for the quality of the liquid, but the clarity of the tasting experience. Having spent half an hour or more with each of these, it is difficult to distill my notes down to a paragraph, but here they are:

1996 Joel Taluau St.-Nicholas-de-Bourgueil, vieilles vignes

Decanted for 80 minutes. Medium purple in color, rimmed with brick red, this wine has a fascinatingly rich, complex, and symmetric nose of stewed bell peppers and candied jalapenos seamlessly balanced by expansive black raspberries and secondary aromas of dusty earth, barbecue sauce, sweet tobacco, pomegranate, plum, and sun-warmed stones. Did I mention the tertiary hints of roasting chicken skins, basil, and cloves? In the mouth the warm strawberry and black raspberry bouquet blooms endlessly, supported by woody flavors, rich bell pepper, and green tea. A crystalline acidity heralds a transition to a secondary flavor of focused cassis, and tertiary hints of spiced oranges. On the finish, cinnamon and matcha green tea overtones add sparkle to the fruit and smooth, rich tannins. Extraordinary. $35. 97 points.

N.V. Dogfish Head 120-Minute India Pale Ale

Brilliant gold in the glass, this IPA has a profoundly layered nose of caramel, wood, smoke, malt ovaltine, coffee, candied coconut, lanzones, dried oranges, and spiced cider. Even when chilled, the aromas in this beer achieve a volume and clarity I've never experienced in a wine. In the mouth it is explosively creamy, lusciously sweet, finely bubbled, dazzlingly pliant, and riotously flavored. Smoky caramel spicy orange (that's right, folks: this beer has superbly balanced acidity!), powerful hops on the finish intermingled with more fruit and caramel, lemon, figs, dates, and strong impressions of creme brulee. The entire finish, hops and fruity caramel included, lasts over 2 minutes. The d'Yquem of beers! Serve well chilled. 20% ABV, $10 per 12 oz bottle. 94 points.


alderyarrow said...


Thanks for the kudos. I like these two tasting notes of yours, but then, you might have been able to predict that...

Rajiv said...


I just read your post on the '61 HdB Chandesais. THAT is a tasting note. I hope one day I too will have the uncontrollable urge to leap into bed buck naked with a wine :)