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For the last few years I have been writing an annual article on stupid wine descriptions (to read the first with a single award for one of the most ludicrous wine descriptions of all time click here [2]). This year’s four award winners come from my friend Mort Maizlish who is particularly adept at finding some real gems that lend themselves to the interesting questions that he poses. And, at the end of the article as an extra added bonus, take a look at what I have called one of the longest wine descriptions on record and have given a special award for irrelevant verbosity.



Tasted ex-chateau and single blind in Southwold. I loathe tasting this blind because it always teases you with its laconic nature, waits for you to deliver your scores and then bursts open. The 2008 did exactly that, prompting several scowls from the audience. Initially, the nose is very closed, but it eventually opens to reveal lovely aromas of beeswax, wet wool, dried pear and honeycomb. The palate is similarly dumb at first, but it unfurls with a delicate, citrus entry, a carefully planned crescendo of dried pineapple, lanolin and spice, with hints of hazelnut on the finish. I hate you Laville. Don’t even attempt to taste this blind, but cellar for twenty years.

How would one carefully plan a crescendo of dried pineapple, lanolin, spice and hazelnuts, other than adulterating the wine? Maybe the “wet wool” had something to do with it? Or maybe it was just the “scores” that caused it to reveal itself?


I have to admit I had some apprehension opening this based on the most recent notes but this 23 year old came through with flying colours. A 1 hour decant and a couple of muscular swirls revealed a rich garnet color and an exquisite nose of blackberry and rich vanilla Devon custard. Leonetti’s use of Merlot and Cabernet Franc rounds out the 80% Cabernet Sauvignon and adds that subtle minty dill pickle tang on the nose so characteristic of the producer – a lovely counterpoint to the richness of the dark fruit. Finish is medium long and surprisingly deep for the age of the vintage. One of my very favourite producers from the NorthWest and a wine well worth waiting for.

Muscular swirls will bring out the dill pickle (let’s hear it for dill pickle) in your wine.  Who knew that’s all it takes? Guess I must not be working out enough.


…the 2015 Cabernet Sauvignon charges from the gate…Full-bodied, concentrated and downright explosive in the mouth, it is still wearing loads of gorgeous puppy-fat fruit flavors, offering suggestions of the complex, multilayered blockbuster that it will emerge into. The structure deserves its own mention: wonderful, seamless freshness and oh-so-fine, pixelated tannins, with an extraordinary persistence of fruit and mineral nuances. Wow.”

What in the world is puppy-fat fruit flavors? And, it had to happen, I suppose – High Tech in the wine description business. Pixelated tannins?  Next we’ll be reading about Bordeaux with amazing bandwidth, Cabernet with high-speed connections. Is this really more exciting than saddle leather and olalliberries?


Pale bright yellow. Fresh aromas of mirabelle, nectarine, tangerine, minty herbs and crushed stone. Quite dry, juicy and elegant, featuring stone fruit and mineral flavors sexed up by a flinty nuance on the end. Still a bit youthfully tight, but this is a marvelous Gentil, the best I remember from Hugel in years. It’s a delicious, lovely, fresh wine that, though not the last word in complexity, is easygoing and full of early appeal. A very complex blend of Sylvaner, Riesling, Pinot Blanc/Auxerrois, and Pinot Gris, plus a little Gewürztraminer, Muscat Ottonel and Muscat d’Alsace; 40 years ago Gentil used to be at least 40% Sylvaner but in recent times the blend of Pinot Blanc and Auxerrois had taken over, to my mind one of the main reasons for Gentil’s downfall. What one wants from a Gentil is mineral florality and freshness, not heavy-handed, honeyed and spicy aromas and flavors.

What is mineral florality, and is it different from floral mineralogy? And “sexed up by a flinty nuance on the end. Still a bit youthfully tight.” Do we really want to go there?



And as an extra added attraction this year, how about one of the longest wine descriptions on record that could also be called one of the most contrived and irrelevant not to mention contradictory.   Apparently the 100 point wine writer and the retailer who parroted the description both had something in common. Decide for yourself, but I would say this is a classic definition of “stupid is as stupid does”! The description, by the way, is for a Portuguese red wine. Who would have guessed?  And who would want to buy this wine based on the description? But, then as you will read in the description, maybe you are a masochist!



The 2015 Nossa Calcario red is a Baga (although in the past, I’ve been told that among the old vines there are tiny amounts of other varieties) from three vineyards with an average vine age of 80 years, aged in used French and Slavonian oak for 18 months. It comes in at just 12% alcohol. This is a fine representation of the vintage and the region. Showing impeccable balance, silky texture, grace and wonderful mid-palate finesse, it has that hard-to-find ability to be elegant, but it’s never thin. It resembles a fine Barbaresco in many ways. It is also very fresh, the natural acidity of Baga coming to the foreground, mingling with small hits of wood and some fruitier nuances. The wood blows off quickly; those opening nuances are very minor. With time, they simply seem to disappear. Tasting this a second time, it seemed a bit sharp and tart. When I tasted it the first time, the context was different-namely, it was next to the Missão reviewed this issue, which seemed much tarter. This “normal” Nossa red is just Baga, though. The big hit of acidity does not overwhelm the wine. It lifts the fruit and lets it linger on the finish. It makes this very refreshing and a pleasure to drink. With about 90 minutes of aeration, this Nossa red also fleshes out in the glass and seems not only more substantial but more precise. It also shows more power. It is far more impressive then. It’s a wine that will need food when it is ready-and it clearly is not quite ready. If you’re a masochist, dive in now. It’s not impossible, but it’s not advisable either. This is hardly a mass market product, so don’t waste your bottles. It should age well, needless to say, and develop complexity in time. If you crack it now, give it 90 minutes in a decanter first. This looks like a potential superstar. It’s worth leaning up just now. You’ll feel refined and sophisticated drinking it, because it certainly is both of those things.

And, after you have suffered through reading this description just how “refined and sophisticated” would you feel drinking it?

So that’s it for the 2018 Stupid Wine Descriptions. We now have another full year for you to send in your choices. Please keep them rolling in! You can send your stupid wine descriptions to The Underground or direct to my email address john@undergroundwineletter.com [6]


In Vino Veritas,Sig

John Tilson