Art is how we decorate space, Music is how we decorate time

drbeeper random header image

Gamay -Tasting – Pinot Noir – Sauv. Blanc – Cork

Clues from the

What’s a cork say about a wine? Well, as the
following excerpt from The Oxford Companion to Wine makes clear,
sniffing the cork may not tell you if the wine is any good — but
studying it might provide you insights into the wine’s history and
the intentions of the bottlers.

In general, the narrower and
more misshapen a cork extracted from a bottle, the longer it has
been there. This is a particularly useful clue to the likely age of
a non-vintage sparkling wine, or at least to the time that has
elapsed since disgorgement. It can also provide a clue to the likely
age of any other non-vintage wine, or fine wine which has lost its
label or, perhaps in the case of vintage port, never had one.

A short agglomerate cork suggests that the bottler had
little regard for the aging ability of this wine, while a
particularly long cork is indicative of at least ambition or
optimism. New World bottlers seem to favor smoother corks with more
obvious cork coatings than their Old World counterparts.

a cork has crystals on the end that has been in contact with the
wine (white in the case of a white wine and dyed dark red by a red
wine) these are harmless tartrates. If a cork seems damp or mouldy
at either end, this is not necessarily a sign of any wine fault.
Some wine waiters are taught to smell the cork and present it to the
customer as an essential part of wine service, but the state of a
cork is no sure guide to the state of the wine it stoppered.

Variety of
the Week  Sauvignon Blanc

  • Grown the world over, Sauvignon Blanc is a favorite for the
    white wine drinker who is burned out on Chardonnay or seeking a
    match for lighter foods.
  • France leads the way with wines from Loire Valley
    (Pouilly-Fume and Sancerre) and Bordeaux (dry Graves and sweet
    Sauternes). The French also add it to blends for its aroma and
  • The Marlborough region and Sauvignon Blanc have been the
    recent heroes of the New Zealand wine industry, with pungent and
    herbaceous Sauvignon Blancs. Chile is also turning out lots of
    Sauvignon Blanc.
  • Sauvignon Blancs can be crisp, dry, grassy, vegetative, and
    herbaceous, and can offer citrus and tropical fruit flavors such
    as lime and kiwi.
  • The advent of Chardonnay has brought the advent of oak-aged
    Sauvignon Blanc, which has deeper, stylized flavors of butter,
    smoke, vanilla, oak, toast, and yeast similar to oak-aged

Grape of
the Week — Pinot Noir

  • Some wine experts consider this the greatest red wine,
    especially as it is rendered in its original home of Burgundy,
  • The grape is acutely sensitive to terroir and climate, so its
    success in Burgundy and elsewhere is very unpredictable. In the
    New World, the grape has met with success in Oregon’s Willamette
    Valley and in California’s Carneros district, the Russian River
    Valley, and Santa Barbara County.
  • Pinot Noir produces dry, silky wines with strong fruit and
    berry flavors, such as raspberry, strawberry, and cherry,
    typically balanced with spicy or floral tones. Oak aging adds
    characteristics of smoke, vanilla, and oak.

The Tasting in
Wine Tasting

In previous newsletters, we discussed the
first two aspects of wine tasting: sight and smell. Now’s the time
to taste all the things you saw and smelled — and some you didn’t —
such as wine’s sweetness, bitterness, astringency, and acidity.

Tasting wine, however, is different than just drinking it.
Slower, noisier, and altogether less socially acceptable than a
polite sip, tasting is a specific process designed to aerate the
wine and run it past the full range of taste buds. Here’s how to do

  • Take a small sip of wine, drawing in enough air to make a
    light slurping noise. Besides entertaining those around you,
    you’re speeding up the vaporization to intensify the flavors.
  • “Chew” the wine (teeth not actually required) to move it all
    around your mouth. Different parts of your tongue will taste
    different aspects of the wine, and you want to make sure to cover
    each sector.
  • Finally, either swallow or spit. If you plan to taste a lot of
    wines, spitting can enhance your focus and extend your stamina.
    Have a bucket on hand if this is your strategy.
The basic
parameters of a wine’s taste are intensity, dryness or sweetness,
body, acidity, tannin, oak, and complexity. Refer to the wine.com Tasting Chart for the full scoop
on each of these aspects of tasting. Also see our Studies in
Contrast samplers, which are designed to help you
develop your own tasting skills by presenting sets of two or more
wines that differ in some specific way.

Variety of
the Week — Gamay

  • This sturdy grape grows many places, but is at its best in the
    Beaujolais region of France.
  • Beaujolais Nouveau is a light, fresh, and fruity wine meant
    (and heavily marketed) to be drunk the second it arrives. It is
    sometimes served chilled.
  • Other Beaujolais — particularly the so-called Beaujolais crus
    such as Morgon, Moulin a Vent, Chenas, and Julienas — are more
    substantial and can last several years.
  • Gamay has also been fairly successful in Oregon’s Willamette
    Valley, with WillaKenzie, Amity, and Brick House among the better