Category Archives: Wine Education

Apr 04 2015

Do you have rocks in your head if you perceive minerality in wine?

Posted on April 04, 2015 | By

If you read a lot of wine tasting notes, you’ve probably come across the wine descriptors ‘minerally’ or “minerality’. While no strict definition of minerality or minerally exist, generally reviewers use them interchangeably to describe flavours or aromas that remind them of wet stones, slate, flint, or the taste of the crunchy sea salt or oysters.

Typically minerally wines come from grapes grown in limestone, schist and granite soils in cooler climates. They have a marked acidity and are not overly fruity.

Minerality is a fairly recent wine descriptor

You may be surprised to learn that the use of these descriptors is fairly recent. Steven Spurrier, the respected British wine writer, told wine critic Jamie Goode that minerality “didn’t exist as a wine descriptor until the mid 1980s: “I think because most French vineyards were overproducing, chaptalizing, and doing all those things – which means that minerality, which comes from the soil and nothing else, was not looked for and not present.” (Wine Science: Minerality in Wine by Jamie Goode, The Somm Journal, 12 October 2015)

Does minerality come from the rocks in the soil?

But whether perceived minerality in wine does indeed come from the soil is a hotly debated subject. As the Wine Spectator’s Harvey Steiman recently explained, “Scientists have demonstrated that these flavours can’t come directly from the rocks in a vineyard. There’s no mechanism for the elements to get through the plant from the soil to the grapes, but vineyards with lots of rocks often produce wines in which we find minerality when we taste them blind.” (What is Minerality, Exactly? by Harvey Steiman, Wine Spectator, 1 April 3015)

Like Steiman, Goode questions the scientific findings, noting that many vignerons believe that minerality in wine is the result of mineral ions in the soil, which through water find their way into the grapes and affect their flavour: “The anecdotal evidence suggesting that some terroirs impart a mineral character to their wines is pretty strong… [Read More]

Jul 07 2012

5 Reasons to Collect Wine: Collectors Share their Opinions

Posted on July 07, 2012 | By

Have you ever scanned a restaurant wine list and noticed that a bottle you have in your cellar is on the list for two or three times what you paid for it?

Many collectors I know love BYO restaurants for this very reason. They can share a special bottle with friends over a wonderful meal without breaking the bank.

Here’s a few other reasons why, for some at least, building a bit of a wine collection is a lot of fun!

1… [Read More]

Jul 07 2012

Decoding the Language of Wine: A Few Terms Explained!

Posted on July 07, 2012 | By

In my previous post, The 20 Wines with a Perfect 100 Point Robert Parker Score, I suggested that wine scores were useful because, as the Decanter wine critic Andrew Jefford explained, “the language of wine is, of necessity, highly metaphorical and hence puzzling: these are not plain words.”

So going forward, I thought every week I’d have a look at the meaning of key words that are used to describe wine, so both you and I have a better idea of what the critics are talking about when we see words like ‘bouquet’,.. [Read More]

Jun 06 2012

Yes, that’s really ‘black pepper’ in Aussie shiraz!

Posted on June 06, 2012 | By

When I was researching Wednesday’s blog on the BVE E & E Black Pepper Shiraz, I came across some really interesting research about the reason for that prized peppery aroma in some of Australia’s best shiraz.

Not too long ago the Australian Wine Research Institute (AWRI) made a break-through discovery. They identified the compound responsible for the peppery character in Australian shiraz, and it turns out to be the same molecule found in much larger concentrations in black peppercorns themselves.

The compound is called rotundone and it has been identified in minute quantities in the grapes used to make the wine… [Read More]

Jun 06 2012

Don’t Overlook the ‘Wow Factor’ and Value of Magnums!

Posted on June 06, 2012 | By

Here’s a few interesting facts about magnum size bottles of wines:

1. They are perfect for dinner parties. They contain about 12 glasses of wine and come with that wow factor, as in, ‘you must really know your wine to have the confidence to splash out on a magnum’, or ‘you obviously have enough room in your cellar to accommodate magnum size bottles or, better still, you obviously store your wine in a professional wine storage facility!’ (Yes, I know, a shameless plug!)

2… [Read More]

Sep 09 2011

Wolf Blass: The man behind the famous label

Posted on September 09, 2011 | By

I recently had the good fortune to attend a cocktail party at a beautiful harbourside Sydney mansion for the launch of the current release of the Wolf Blass luxury collection: the Gold, Grey, Black and Platinum labels.

The line-up of wines was excellent with the sublime Platinum Label Shiraz 2008 Grange-like in the complexity and depth of its bouquet. But the real highlight of the evening was the chance to listen to the entertaining musings of the very dapper 77 old Wolf Blass,.. [Read More]

Aug 08 2011

The Pros and Cons of Decanting Wine

Posted on August 08, 2011 | By

I recently discussed the growing trend of decanting Champagne – even the vintage, expensive stuff! (see The Benefits of Decanting Champagne! Cellarit Blog, 24 August 2011). And as a regular reader of The Wine Front reviews by Campbell Mattinson and Gary Walsh, I’ve noticed that they often come back to a wine a day or two after first opening it. In Mattinson’s review of the Moss Wood Ribbon Vale Cabernet Merlot 2004, for example, he commented that: “The longer it sat in the glass,.. [Read More]

Aug 08 2011

The Benefits of Decanting Champagne!

Posted on August 08, 2011 | By

Decant Champagne? Yes, it’s becoming popular!

According to Tom Stevenson, the Decanter World Wine Awards Regional Chair for Champagne, Parisian sommeliers  first started decanting demi-sec Champagne in order to enhance its sweetness by reducing the tactile impression of effervescence. Now the practice has spread across the globe and includes almost every type, style and age of Champagne! (Ask Decanter, Decanter September 2011).

Decanting can help tame the most aggressive fizz and soften the mousse of young, non-vintage Champagne. Aerating the wine also helps to release subtle aromas not always apparent in the first glass when the Champagne is directly poured from the bottle… [Read More]