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Auckland, North Island, New Zealand
Wine tour operator, wine writer and lapsed physiotherapist. "Nature abhors a vacuum. I personally hate dusting."

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Friday, September 6, 2019

It's all about the taste ...


Having been a wine tour guide, plus doing wine writing gigs for over twenty years, I have observed literally thousands of people tasting thousands of wines.

And I have noticed that they do fall into two general categories. So, here is my own take on why people like certain wines. And why people don’t like other wines. The Phil Parker Theory of Wine Palate goes something like this: Some (not many) people have a Sensitive Palate. And conversely, most other people have a Robust Palate. No shame about being in either group. It’s not a competition. It’s like having brown eyes or green eyes. Get over it. Thus, my completely unproven theory divides you into two groups.

Sensitive Palate
Does not like: Brussels sprouts, broad beans, very strong cheeses, salt & vinegar chips, Sauvignon Blanc, Riesling, Cabernet Sauvignon and very tannic (dry) red wines such as Barolo, Australian Cabernet or Shiraz. Also in general, hates very hoppy and bitter craft beers, and sweet wines – especially dessert wines.
Likes: Pinot Gris, buttery soft chardonnay, soft and silky Pinot Noir, ripe and soft Syrah, Merlot.

Robust Palate
Does not like
: soft, light Chardonnay, Pinot Gris, Gewurztraminer, Pinot Noir or Merlot.
Likes: Sauvignon Blanc,  Highly oaked Chardonnay, Riesling, vinegary foods, Brussels sprouts, salt & vinegar chips, Cabernet Sauvignon, Shiraz, Malbec, Zinfandel and other tannic dry reds. Also loves bitter hoppy IPA beers. Also, may enjoy a cigarette or a good cigar.

Unfortunately for me, I am of the Sensitive Palate whanau. To me, sauvignon blanc tastes like battery acid and a hoppy IPA can wipe out my sense of taste for about 3 hours. But, as a wine writer I have to know a good sav when I see one, so I don’t skew my reviews toward my personal palate.
Anyway, here are some recent tastings.



Richmond Plains Blanc de Noir Marlborough 2018  $23.40
I discovered this fab wine on a winter trip to the south this July. Certified organic and biodynamic, vegetarian and made from 100% Pinot Noir. Crisp, fresh and fruity. Flavours of baked pear, nectarine and apple. Availability: organicwines.co.nz


Tohu Pinot Blanc Whenua Awa Marlborough 2018  $29.00
Pinot Blanc, along with Pinot Gris is a cousin of Pinot Noir. This is a crisp refreshing wine, ideal slightly chilled. In the mouth, it’s fresh and fruity with flavours of mandarin, nectarine and hint of Riesling-like bees’ wax. Great match for seafood.
Availability: Glengarry

Tohu AlbariƱo Whenua Matua Nelson 2018  $29.00
This Spanish grape variety (pronounced Al-Ba-Reenyo). produces crisp white wines with stone fruit flavours not unlike Viognier.  In Portugal it is known as Alvarinho. To me – ripe pear, mandarin and minerality with a crisp finish.
Availability: Glengarry

Rockburn The Chosen Central Otago Pinot Noir 2018  $65
Inviting aromas of ripe, juicy black cherries and Christmas plum cake. A rich, soft generous and silky palate of red and black berry compote with a hint of mixed spices, and a soft tannic lengthy finish. Another knockout Pinot Noir from Rockburn.
Availability: Glengarry

Outback Jack Brenton Vineyard Australin Cabernet Merlot 2017 $8.99
Not a typo. This is a very drinkable, fruit forward with plums and fruitcake, with not too much tannin. A total bargain Aus
Availability: vineonline.co.nz

Little x Hawkes Bay Syrah $14.99
Again. Total bargain. Honestly - one of the best Hawkes bay Syrahs that I have tasted from the memorable 2014 vintage. Soft spicy and seamless. With black pepper, stewed plum, black currant and plum pudding.
Availability: vinofino.co.nz


Phil hosts wine tours in Auckland to Waiheke Island, Kumeu and Matakana.

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