Aromatic Whites

From our tasting on… August 25th, 2016

Flavor has two components: smell and taste.  Our noses usually come into play before our mouths do, creating expectations of what we’re going to taste.   Aromas can be sweet, think ripe fruits, brown sugar or honey; they can be floral, offering orange blossom, rose, violet, and more; they can be savory, with herbs, earth, leather, or bark; they can be mysterious and intriguing, evoking things that are somehow familiar but for which we just can’t find the words.  We don’t expect a disconnect between what we smell and what we taste—if it smells good, it will taste good; if it smells “off” it will taste off.

As you sample today’s wines, if you are up for it, play a game with yourself: tease out the aromatic components you can identify, chat with your neighbors and compare notes.  Taste and see whether these aromas are also present in the flavor profile; take note of any additions or surprises.  You can go a step further by thinking about what you would like to eat with the flavors (and textures) you find in the wine.

Terredora di Paolo Falanghina Irpinia 2015 comes from Campania in southwest Italy.  The grape combines the piney fragrance of Fiano with the juiciness of Greco, making it versatile with food.  What do you smell—orchard fruit, tropical fruit, flowers?  Do the elements come into play at different points in the tasting process? Again, lees contact provides roundness, acidity keeps it clean.

The next wine comes from Penedès, in Spain. Vins de Terrer Perfum 2015 is aptly named; the dominant grape, Moscatel, is indeed perfumed.  The label tells a story—what flowers do you smell and taste?  What fruits appear?  How would you serve this wine?

Orénia Blanc 2014 comes from a mountainous area between the Rhône and Languedoc. It’s made by a former sommelier now working on the other side of the bottle.  All the grapes used have somewhat floral aromas and flavors.  Lees contact gives the wine roundness and the clean acidity provides structure and liveliness.

Our last two wines are made from grapes with similar qualities: spice, florality, and an almost bitter pithiness.  Inca Torrontes-Chardonnay 2014 hails from the Calchaqui Valley in Argentina.  What fruits, spices, and flowers do you detect here?  Is this an aggressive wine or more of a wallflower?  Keuka Spring Vineyards Gewürztraminer 2015 is a classic Finger Lakes expression of this grape, intense but deft on its feet.  What does it share with the Inca in terms of fruit and spice?  How is it different?  What would you pair with these wines?

We hope this somewhat geeky exercise gives you some insight into the tasting process.  We’ve worked from wine to food, but you can start with the food and decide what wine will go with it.  The key idea is practice, so join us for more Hang Time tastings!


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