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Difficult tasting terms

In the latest catalogue “Fine Wine Champions 2020”, page 10, there is a description of the Robert Oatley The Pennant Margaret River Chardonnay 2018 wine. The person who writes the tasting note says:

"… an unmissable wine, of simultaneous tension, focus and generosity" .

In an attempt to understand what those three terms meant when applied to a wine (Google Translate did not help…), I asked someone whose opinion I value in these matters. This is what he had to say:

“I think tension and focus are different ways of referring to acidity. Focus is also possibly concentration. Generosity is possibly a mix of intensity and ripeness”.

Perhaps the person who wrote the notes can enlighten us?


Hang on a minute, I’ll just go and fetch the can-opener!


While we’re at it, can someone ask Victoria Moore in yesterday’s Telegraph what ‘warm rain’ tastes like. She was describing Vouvray and I’ve put several buckets out in the hope of a downpour!


Similarly, can someone explain ‘detailed’ for me?

I once overheard ‘stretched’. I don’t think it was complimentary.


I still don’t get “piercing”. I don’t want to get pierced by anything, much less a wine.


This kind of stuff drives me mad. Every time I see a wine professional write something along the lines of the paragraph below, I just lose it. Even worse, I have sat at wine tastings with some of the greatest (Broadbent, Spurrier, to name a few) and they never resorted to this kind of uncontrolled verbosity.

“Not the Real Name 2013 Cabernet Sauvignon, Sonoma USA: Deep purple colour. Aromas of rich dark currants, nectarine skins, gushing blackberry, but lots of fragrant tobacco, rich soil, white flowers, smashed minerals and metal. Medium-bodied and saucy but racy acidity stabilises the wine nicely with the robust tannins. Deep red currants and ripe cherries, laden with mocha, loamy soil, charred herbs, pencil shavings, roasted hazelnut. Dense like characters that make it perfect for cellaring, however it is drinkable straight away once you expose it to the earth’s atmosphere. This is a delicious Sonoma Cabernet! Has been matured for 24 months in 2 year old 55% Tronçais and 45% Vosges oak. 95 points.”

Apologies in advance to all the pros or aspiring pros in this community. My opinion by no means represents what works for your desired target audience, so follow your instincts and apply some analytics on top of that (for confirmation). You know best what works.


It’s like being transported to an iron ore mine in Sweden… Kiruna, perhaps. What a wine! :clap:

Aspiring pros…nothing worse. Trade tastings are littered with them!

Not possible anymore but if you want to avoid BS go to an M&S wine tasting (all day drinkers, anything drinkers, non drinkers, wine lovers, “wrong” answers aplenty and even Bob & Betty who got lost thinking the cafe was still selling tea and buns at 7pm but are now spittooning like a pro).


To be fair, the smell of summer rain on dry pavement (petrichor?) is a very evocative smell for me. While I can’t personally say I’ve detected it in wine, I can definitely see its use as a descriptor. Assuming that’s what she’s talking about!

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‘Smart’ is a meaningless word when applied to wine. For example:

‘This is never less than very smart sauvignon indeed.’

I think the fundamental difference here is between people wanting a precise description of what a wine tastes and smells like, versus the impression a wine gives, which lends itself to some of the more florid notes you read. Personally I have no problem with the latter and find the rather robotic WSET style of note less useful. I want wine to be about personal experiences and enjoy reading others’ experiences as much as having my own.
All that said I find some terms, like mineral or minerality, unhelpful as they don’t seem to mean anything or worse, mean different things to different people, which can make it harder to understand what the writer is trying to convey.