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STUPID WINE DESCRIPTIONS

John Tilson • 2/27/21        Print This Post Print This PostComment Bookmark and Share

For many years now I have been writing about stupid wine descriptions (to read about past years winners and links to all previous articles click here). Believe me that are a lot to choose from! So let’s take one of the newest ones from this year.

Very recently I received a note on NV Charles Heidsieck Brut Reserve Champagne from a retailer offering the wine for sale. I love this Champagne and it was being offered at a good price so I bought some. I know this Champagne very well and have it in my cellar and have enjoyed it countless times over the years. Below is the note that accompanied the sales offer:

94-96 points Tyson Stelzer (The Champagne Guide): “The delectable Charles Heidsieck mood is nothing short of winter-time generosity, full-straw hue, mellow autumn-leaf character, contemplative appeal, waxy, creamy, fleshy, toasty and brimming with juicy stone fruits, fig, pear and crunchy red apples. It declares its magnificent age and deep reserves in rumbling maturity of dried peach, coffee, cocoa, nougat, pâtisserie, deep mixed spice, even pipe smoke, molten wax and truffles…”

This note is in no way like any of the countless bottles of Charles Heidsieck Champagne that I have consumed. In fact, it is not a description that is even remotely similar to any Champagne or, for that matter, any wine that I have ever had in my life! How these 100 point boys come up with these descriptions is beyond me. As for this description let’s break it down and take a look. How about the following?:

mood

Mood is a temporary state of mind and feeling. So this is the temporary state of the Champagne. If you are drinking it isn’t that obvious?

winter-time generosity

Winter-time generosity? What is this? What does winter-time have to do with the look, smell, or taste of the wine? Would any of these be different in the spring, summer or fall? No. Not unless you were drinking some bottles that had been poorly stored. So, bottom line, there is no way that this is even relevant to a wine description.

full-straw hue

Full-straw hue? What is this? Is it a color? And how is a full-straw hue different than a straw hue. Is there a half-full straw hue or an over filled straw hue?

mellow autumn-leaf character

Mellow is defined as pleasantly smooth and soft and free of harshness. So how does this relate to an autumn leaf? Who has ever tasted an autumn leaf? Fresh or dry? And from what kind of tree? And if you did taste how would mellow relate?

contemplative appeal

This is defined as expressing or involving prolonged thought. Expressing a prolonged thought? Does that mean that you will be thinking about this for a long time? Maybe. But so what?

juicy stone fruits, fig, pear and crunchy red apples

Quite a combination here! Have you ever tasted a ripe stone fruit that was not juicy? And how would you know what this combination of fruits would taste like? There are lots of kinds of figs. For instance, take Mission and Kadota. They are completely different. And the same for pears and red apples.

So how could you ever have a combination of all of these? Maybe hints of some, but that is about it. After all, the wine is made from grapes not a combination of different fruits.

rumbling maturity

Rumbling is defined as a consistent deep resonant sound. So how does sound relate to  the maturity of a wine?

dried peach, coffee, cocoa, nougat, pâtisserie, deep mixed spice, even pipe smoke, molten wax and truffles

This is really an absurd combination of things to put in your mouth. How about a dose of molten wax? Yikes!!! How much would that hurt? And who would consider pipe smoke as something you taste?  Dried peach? Dried fruit flavors are something I do not recall tasting in Champagne. Coffee and cocoa to me are also tastes that I cannot remember ever tasting in Champagne and if they were there I would consider the wine was in decline from poor storage or old age. Nougat and patisserie?  Perhaps. Deep mixed spice? Is this stonger?  And what is mixed spice? Does “mixed spice” mean allspice which is really a separate spice. I have no idea what a mixed spice would smell or taste like much less a deep one! Truffles?  I like truffles very much – both black and white. But they are very different. And I do not recall these as tastes or smells that I associate with Champagne, or any wine for that matter. So bottom line: This is just absurd!

 

That’s it for now folks! This one belongs in the hall of fame for stupid wine descriptions!! But, make no mistake, I am sure the 100 point boys are hard at work cooking up more stupid wine descriptions. And as we come across them we will offer our Underground Commentary just to make sure that they get their just reward!

 

In Vino Veritas,

John Tilson

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  • George Zoumer says:
    Your comment is awaiting moderation. This is a preview; your comment will be visible after it has been approved.
    Thanks John – This type of line by line analysis is perfect. The wine industry as a whole, baffles most average wine drinkers. The result of this baffling is the tendency to go with wines from major producers with $$$ of marketing dollars and leaving the smaller independent wineries to their own devices. There is a whole world of fabulous wines out there just waiting to be discovered. Congrats on an excellent Newsletter. Best regards, George Zoumer Certified Sommelier
  • Michael says:
    Your comment is awaiting moderation. This is a preview; your comment will be visible after it has been approved.
    Not so fast– that guy has written 16 books (so his website states). In the testimonial section, this one caught my eye: “Stelzer continues to baffle world-leading wine reviewers and writers with his depth of knowledge and exceptional palate”. Baffle is an interesting word choice.
  • Tommy Goff says:
    Your comment is awaiting moderation. This is a preview; your comment will be visible after it has been approved.
    I wonder sometimes if these writers have a secret contest to see who can write the most absurd descriptions.
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