A few hidden-gem wines and a quick detour into tequilas
In a recent discussion, I was informed that a lesson I have taught for many years has been debunked. Based on the writings of disparate experts over the years, I had written that the only categories the mouth senses are: sweet, sour, astringent, umami and bitter. Fairly recent science claims our tongue comprises about 8,000 taste buds evenly spread across its surface. To date there is no clear mapping of the distribution other than it appears to be diverse, with four typical patterns spread across groups of people. I did further research and found this Steven Munger 2017 article in Smithsonian Mag: tinyurl.com/bde5c8da. You know the guidelines on leaving early. At this point, I guess tasters can acquire confirmation biases based on their exposure over time, because I am sure that for me, sugar - tip of tongue, sour - side of tongue, bitter - back of tongue, and astringent - inside cheeks works. I also learned the “common knowledge” that our body has five basic sensing abilities is a massaged construct. Although sight, touch, taste, smell and hearing are indeed basic, we also experience equilibrioception (balance), nociception (pain), and chronoception (time) among others. Anyhow, the new insight caused me to go to the archives to dig out another well-written article from December 2015 at Winecooler Direct Learning Center by Erin Doman titled How to Train Your Palate, learn.winecoolerdirect.com/how-to-train-your-palate. There are several other informative reads at this site, especially for those new to the game or just curious.
Keeping the trendy up to date – Drizly, an alcohol delivery service acquired by Uber in 2021, claims that sales of hard seltzer are down, with sales off 13%. It has been surpassed by canned alcohol cocktails, up by 2.6%. They also claim that tequila is the new choice for many consumers and pointed to Cristalino Anejo as the label showing the most growth. Cristalino Anejo is aged tequila, filtered (usually via charcoal) to remove barrel colors and woody flavors without damaging the flavors and textures barrel aging provides, a cross between blanco and anejo. Those listed run around $55. I sampled Qui Platinum extra anejo, notable because it is aged longer, 3.5 years. These folks do not make blanco, reposado or anejo and focus on their Cristalino. I also tried Rock N Roll Cristalino because I liked the Gibson Flying V guitar-shaped and decorated bottle. Aged one year, it shows agave, eucalyptus aromas and finishes agave, barrel cedar, dark chocolate and citrus. Try Don Julio 70 Anejo Claro because it is probably most widely available. Clear, good viscosity. It showed cooked agave, vanilla and pie spice aromas, then finished with nuts, tobacco, white pepper and caramel. The agave and white pepper rode through from the nose to the finish; 40% ABV, aged 18 months in bourbon barrels. You may have noted I did not rate these. I am not a fan of tequila and have very little basis for rating them.
Let’s do some affordable wine that is rarely reviewed – Pacherhof Kerner Valle Isarco Alto Adige Italy 2021, 92 McD. This Kerner shows trop fruit, pie spice and citrus aromas. On its medium-weight palate, we find peach, grapefruit, nutmeg and wild herb with almond and flinty bright acidity support. Pacherhof Vineyard has been owned by the Huber family since 1142 and the cellar master today is Andreas Huber. If you enjoy Kerner, Gruner Veltliner, Sylvaner, Muller Thurgau or Riesling from Alto Adige, Pacherhof is a top label and Huber is a master craftsman.
How about a Semillon from Bordeaux – Lune D’Argent 2019, 91 McD, $17. Blended with Sauvignon Blanc, both from very old vines, this rivals many white food wines. Pale green-tinged yellow, it opens white and citrus fruit mixed with linden and acacia aroma highlights. The palate is rich, full and Semillon fruity, from very ripe, late-picked grapes. I’m thinking the botrytis didn’t show up. While SB adds bright citrus, very ripe Semillon provides lychee and mango-driven sweetness. The finish repeats the fruit and is cleaned up by a well-integrated saline minerality. Don’t mistake the fruit for sugar; Lune D’Argent is a well-balanced dry seafood wine. I usually cool white Bordeaux and allowed it to stand in the glass prior to consumption. Although this may be indelicate for some, many white Bordeaux blended of Sauterne and SB frequently show a mild aroma of cat pee on opening. This disperses very quickly.