Why Wine Tasting Notes are Important and Useful

"Tasting notes are just self-indulgent. I really don't see any use for them except stoking an author’s ego or a publication’s collective ego" ~ Eric Asimov 

I being the contrarian that I'm known to be, I take great exception to his wild-eyed assertion. Do I think he was speaking to me directly? Of course not it's highly unlikely he has any idea this counterpoint article exists. But that said, the tasting notes I write are not here just for my self-indulgent purposes; my god if that were the case, I wouldn't even bother to keep a blog or tweet, Instagram and/or FB social media profile. If you've read this blog for even a short amount of time, then you'd quickly realize it's nothing of the sort as suggested above by Mr. Asimov.

Perhaps he not even talking about small fries like me, perhaps, his pointed comments are directed to the likes of Parker, and the many other glossy ad-filled magazines like the Wine-Speculator or Wine-Gasm. Who knows, I just think his assertion is a bit ridiculous. But maybe he is correct, and tasting notes are just self-indulgent pieces of tripe.

I mean, c'mon tho, the guy makes his living, 'writing' and last time I checked writing a tasting note is part of the wine review process. For him or anyone else (other wine writers) to suggest that writing a tasting note about a wine sent for the review process or encountered merely by whatever means is a bad thing. To me, that statement is near the withering heights of hypocrisy, and believe me, and it's quite balmy up there. Thusly (archaic ), I say, good sir, please, oh please give me a break!

I can't speak for anyone else, but my intended purpose (for writing a tasting note) is to simply encourage exploration of the wine world and the exuberance for said discovery. Secondly, motivation-wise, it's an effort to help (assist) or draw attention to the fact, that drinking the same wines over and over is no fun, so I suggest alternatives. There's a considerable wine-world out there, and the tasting notes I write are nothing but a mere signpost on the highway, pointing the way to exploration and filling in any unexpected expectations. It's all well and good to promote an unfamiliar wine region, like the those from the Canary Islands off the coast of Spain, but without providing the proper 'expectation' via a tasting note, the experience could have an unintended effect on the suggestion.

Now to the reason, I think tasting notes (such as the one I'm about to write below) are constructive, and not only those which I write, or type out via various social media platforms I use daily. The wine which appears in today's review is the type of wine which if I had NOT written a tasting note about this wine, it would have been needlessly unhelpful for me and anyone else considering purchasing it.

The 2011 Rasteau, Domaine la Soumade, "Cuvée Prestige" which I uncorked a few weeks back, is a beast of a wine. This wine is so much of a monster in fact that it's highly advisable that you open the day before and drink it the next. That's right, uncork that bad boy, and leave it to develop overnight in your pantry slowly, that's how I handled it, and it worked out quite nicely. So, not my first rodeo with that practice either, and I'm sure it won't be the last. Further, I'm not sure even a few hours in a decanter would have been sufficient enough for that wine to open up properly.

Don't get me wrong, because when I say it's a 'beast,' I don't mean that in a bad way. It's just that this wine is nowhere near 'approachable,' in the mere moments after the bottle has is uncorked. The tannins are huge and bracing, and it's not a bottle of wine for the faint of heart, it's more akin to drinking French Roasted coffee from a French Press black. If you've had a similar experience like that recently or it's still a vivid memory from the past you most likely don't recall that experience fondly.

Here comes the awful tasting note part of the article; so if you find this makes you squeamish, please look away it will be over very soon. Here's the score for this wine 91 points, you'll see it sells for $28 most places.

Are you starting to see why a tasting note like the one I'm writing at this moment would have been helpful for this wine? This wine is the poster boy for, "Why Tasting Notes are Helpful." If you still don't get it or see my point, then there's sadly no hope for you and the reason that wines in can and wine filled bags in a box are still a big hit. But for everyone who 'gets-it' please feel free to continue reading.

Talk about brooding, this wine took two days to unwind fully. A deep, dark color in the glass rushes to meet you at the door, like an armed man waiting for the thief behind the door. This inexpensive Rhone Zone gem; will wow the palates of the more discerning and veteran wine drinkers, while easily scaring away the uninitiated. This wine is beaming with flavors of espresso, near ripe blueberry and blackberry fruit, dark chocolate, finely ground dark rich earth and tar. You can honestly taste the terroir, a bottle of wine with real soul and substance. I can't wait to sample the rest of their line-up.

Domaine La Soumade in the commune of Rasteau, produces this wonderfully expressive cuvée prestige, a blend of 70% Grenache, 20% Syrah and 10% Mourvedre. I thought that perhaps, the percentages were a bit skewed, considering its muscular profile, but no, I'm wrong. I didn't expect a Grenache to be this big, and it's a smoky, meaty wine offering generous dark fruits, pasted over taught tannins and plumed with enough acid to carry the generous fruit.

I've mentioned previously it's a bottle of wine which requires loads of patience if you’d like this wine sooner rather than later. Frankly, I’d recommend purchasing it, throwing it into a deep dark hole of your cellar and throwing away the key for quite some time, this puppy is built for long-term aging. Until next time folks remember life is short, never stop exploring. Slurp long and prosper cheers!


Very well done Bill, totally agree with you. Cheers.
Bill Eyer said…
Thank you sir, it was something I felt really needed to be said!

I see you've strayed away from the [populous] pack [of lemmings]that's a bold move, a very bold move.

Cheers to independent thinking!
Kala Maxym said…
Just saw this posted in Twitter and enjoyed the article -- and your writing -- very much. We actually do pairing notes at our events, and think of them as "conversation starters." Yes, they are subjective in many instances but they are a lovely introduction and background to the elements we're tasting and, even if you agree, they get you thinking! Thanks :)

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