Three descriptive words

Right then.  Lesson two chez one of a few former employers:

To sell a bottle of wine in a shop, to actually SELL it, rather than just ring it up on the till and wrap it, you need to be able to describe it.  Mentor number two had an easy rule – you need to be able to use three words to describe any wine in the shop.  I confess that many whites came under the description “crisp, dry, refreshing”.  Because it was easy and is pretty much true when describing most whites.  Because that’s what white wine is for. Champagne is easier, because you can say “fizzy”.  Red wine is easier, maybe, because the character of a red is easier to describe: full or light, soft or firm, fruity or austere, etc, etc.

Move up the scale and it gets a little trickier.  I don’t do “gooseberry” for Sauvignon.  I don’t know what a gooseberry smells like (though it strikes me as being the time to find out).  I say Sauvignon, because that’s what it smells like to me.

So.  A bottle of 1990 Lynch-Bages on Friday.  Put simply: Pauillac, mature, good.  Less simply: Pauillac, mature but just getting in to its stride.  Ripe, but not the over-ripeness that some 90s show.  Not flashy.  Faultless balance.  A cool and classy Pauillac edge to it (though not as cool or linear as 90 Cos, which I had picked as an 86 in my mind last week).  Points?  If forced I’d say 94 from me (though out of 101 cos I like to be different).

I tasted three whites last night, with six guys of varying experience of good wine.  We had Meursault, Tesson from Jean-Philippe Fichet; Meursault, Les Tillets from Patrick Javillier and Meursault Les Perrieres from Ch. de Puligny.  All 2007s.  Description of these was interesting, and maybe tricky, until we found a common language, something we all understood.

The Tillets from Javillier was the 5-series BMW.  Hard to fault.  Does the job and does it well.  If you wanted to pick bones you could say it lacked a little bit of character, but that’s a bit harsh, maybe.

The Tesson: some thought a Jag.  Less efficiency, more character.  Stylish.  I personally love the style of Fichet’s wines, their focus, their edge, and thought Jaguar a little unflattering, but only because this wine was racy, had edge.  It didn’t have four doors.

The Perrieres.  This was very good and definitely showed its wings – it’s a premier cru and you can tell it.  More concentration, more fruit, more intensity.  Ch. de Puligny is making better and better wine each year and this really was rather good.  This was my Jaguar: not a Bentley but just as fast, and just as comfortable.

I think I’ve got the Tillets and the Perrieres spot on.  So what about the Tesson?  A TVR?  Fast but leaks and breaks down?  No.  A Boxster?  Tempting, but no.  I think it’s an S2000.  Very fast, very good-looking.  Doesn’t break down, will last.  A tiny bit of badge-snobbery from label drinkers but otherwise just perfect.

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