As wine connoisseurship evolves, I look toward developing ways to express the aspects of wine I love the most. I recognize that wine is a product of nature and science; my goal is as natural as can be: to help make the connection between joy of taste and the bountiful pleasures of life.”

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

FAT doesn’t always mean PHAT

You are the die-hard, gotta-learn-all-there-is-to-know type, convinced you must take advantage of every tasting opportunity there is. Cancel some appointments, shuffle your day around, drive 45 in a 25 and still, despite all of this, you arrive just as the seminar begins. You look around the room, a dozen or so of the 40 in attendance rubberneck to see who has arrived late, walking through the narrow isle, you see the only remaining spot.

Unfortunately, that one seat plants you between two dudes that look like WWF wrestlers and smell like an 80’s hair salon: think Drakkar, hairy chests, velour gym suits and the iconic 1/8” herringbone 14 karat chain. It's all there - the protruding jaw, the Cro-Magnon brow that screams steroids, and this time, a sense of totally disparity sets in. You didn’t realize that people wore cologne to professional wine tastings; you didn’t think that disciples of Hulk Hogan drank wine, and you’re thinking it may be a good time to make like a tree (and leave - bad pun, I know, but hard to resist).

The tasting begins and you are in the verbal crossfire between Joey and Joey: boisterous, obnoxious, brazen and overt, you can hardly take it. The last wine to taste is poured and Joey #1 says ”Woooah..this one is PHAT!” Confusing, indeed, coming from this stinking thuglet. Do you dare ask him to elaborate? Does he mean “phat” like his Sean John trousers, or “fat” like the edge of a rib eye? Hmmmm?

Fat in wine for me has direct correlation to the overall temperature range the vines endure during the growing season (particularly steady high or higher-than-normal temperatures). Rarely used in fact, the term “fat” as it relates to wine is more commonly verbalized as uber-ripeness, roundness, glycerol, thick, syrupy, flabby, viscous, etc.

Typically a challenge to traditional winemakers, a “fat” finished wine normally means that physiological maturity was reached and probably pushed just beyond the ideal - beyond to a place where ripeness overcomes balance, where alcohol plays a leading role, where acidity is diminished and opulence rules over finesse. Many folks, thanks to guys like Ehren Jordan and John Wetlaufer, have become accustomed to this profile trait. For me unfortunately wines that have this low acid “fatness” are not normally so great at the dinner table and more suitable as stand alone quaffers.

So, just say "no" to blotter, cologne, gold mining, synthetic fibers, and yes to acid!

1 comment:

Trey said...

Ahhh, acids in wines....Vajra, that is why you need to refocus your wine lists and include a multitude of Washington State wines! We get the ripeness of Cali, while maintaining the acids like, well, like say Italy for instance. There is a reason we can grow Riesling AND Cabernet in the same growing region....acid!
Your friend,