This month Andrew from the fine UK wine blog Spittoon has challenged us to review an Italian wine in just seven words. Sound like a fairly easy task as wines from Italy are plentiful in stores at all price ranges and seven words can cover quite a bit of ground.
So I ventured to my favorite wine store, Solo Vino, to challenge the staff with an Italian wine from a region I was not familiar with to feature. After a few bottles were suggested, I settled on Tenuta Delle Terre Nere, Rosso 2006 ($17). It’s made from old-vine Nerello grown on the slopes of Mt. Etna in Sicily.
As soon as the first taste was swirled and sniffed, I knew I was in trouble as the pronounced aromas were difficult to describe in 14 words. How could I describe what was going on with this wine in just seven words? I jotted down my normal review of 25 words or so, then attempted to cut the prose down to a skeletal seven. Nothing seemed to make sense so I settled on the following:
Cherries, earth, raspberries on a dusty highway
Natural cork closure
This got me wondering if a more straightforward wine would be easier to encapsulate in the meager amount of words allotted. So I picked up the widely available A Mano, Primitivo 2005 ($10) from Puglia. Longtime listeners of my podcast will remember this wine from a couple of years back and I reconsidered another bottle sometime later. But I had not picked up this wine for quite a while so I thought it would be easy to review in just a few words. A twist of the screw-cap closure and taste later, I jotted down the following:
Raspberries, cranberries, tar and spices on horseback
Although the A Mano was more fruit driven than the Tenuta Delle Terre Nere, there was still quite a bit going on here. I liked each wine roughly about the same with a slight nod to the Tenuta Delle Terre Nere, Rosso (89 vs. 88 on the 100-point scale). But this experience got me thinking more about wine reviews in general and how I approach them in particular. In the back of my mind, I kept hearing Ryan’s call for wine writing on the internet to be different than the established print model. And for the first time, I confronted a vastly different review structure to work with.
No, I’m not going to review wines here with seven words but I expect my reviews to be less about the actual aromas and flavors of the wine but how they evoke something related to the world around me. Some context about how I came to try the wine in question and how it connects with my life at the time of the tasting. So, ironically, this will lead to more descriptive and less clinical reviews here.
Cheers to Andrew for such a thought provoking and, yes, fun theme. I’m looking forward to getting back into my comfort zone next month with a seasonal theme (at least here in the snowy Twin Cities) from Joel at Vivi’s Wine Journal.