What do you look for in a tasting note?

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What do you look for in a tasting note?

Postby Jeff B » Tue Jun 11, 2013 1:04 am

The more details, the better? Or do you prefer to read more succinct notes?

I tend to write tasting notes for my own purposes. Meaning, that I try to write a note that will help me remember my own impressions. And if somebody else gets something from the note, then it's just a flattering bonus.

Having said that, what do you like to see in a tasting note?

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Re: What do you look for in a tasting note?

Postby Tim York » Tue Jun 11, 2013 6:35 am

I like a succinct note when reading but err towards prolixity myself, mainly because like you, Jeff, I write them so as to remember my own impressions.

The essential thing when reading a note is to get an accurate idea of the wine's style in as few words as possible. I actually think that Parker does a good job here. I may not always share his judgement but I can usually tell whether or not I will like a wine after reading his review.
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Re: What do you look for in a tasting note?

Postby Kelly Young » Tue Jun 11, 2013 2:41 pm

I others' notes, I want some basic idea of what the wine tastes like (the typical fruits, nuts, oils, perfumes, agriculture, and industry smells and tastes), what it evokes (the mood, the music, the myth), and it's not bad to be entertained. Also whether the drinker, you know, likes the thing. Should I rush out and commit crime to get it, if I happen across it maybe take a flyer, or if it's so bad that I should avoid even going into the same Zip Code it might be present in.
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Re: What do you look for in a tasting note?

Postby Carl Eppig » Tue Jun 11, 2013 10:27 pm

The absence of numbers.
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Re: What do you look for in a tasting note?

Postby John Treder » Tue Jun 11, 2013 11:27 pm

Good question. I wish I knew the answer for myself. For myself, if my note says, "GBNG", I may recollect the occasion and that may help. Or maybe I won't remember, and it'll be four consonants.
I was always a lousy note-taker.
Tom Hill's condensed, slashed and comma-ed notes sometimes are very evocative and other times are just (long/boring).
I tend to like notes that sort of express the "personality" of a wine. Dave Bueker, though his tastes and mine tend to differ (massive understatement warning), does a good job at that.
So there!
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Re: What do you look for in a tasting note?

Postby Joy Lindholm » Wed Jun 12, 2013 1:21 am

For me, context is as important as anything else. What I am eating with the wine, or where I am (if at a special tasting, or traveling, etc.) help me remember more than just "this wine tastes like XYZ fruit..." I am always thinking about wine in conjunction with food, so what a wine tastes like with certain flavors is more important to me than a bunch of aroma and flavor descriptors. Our palates change and wines taste different in different scenarios so I don't take my observations at a given moment as the absolute gospel truth on a wine.
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Re: What do you look for in a tasting note?

Postby Steve Slatcher » Wed Jun 12, 2013 2:41 am

First and foremost, I want to know how acidic, sweet, full-bodied and astringent the wine is. So many notes seem to consist of a list of aromas, but omit this basic information. For me it is vital when considering food matching. Whether it has notes of something that is, for example, mandarin or clementine, as opposed to orange or merely citric, is of little importance to me - besides my perception would probably be completely different.

But I do take Kelly's point about entertainment. Some read notes for entertainment, and they would have different concerns.
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Re: What do you look for in a tasting note?

Postby Tim York » Wed Jun 12, 2013 5:23 am

Steve Slatcher wrote:First and foremost, I want to know how acidic, sweet, full-bodied and astringent the wine is.


That is essential.

Another useful feature is comment on the presence of features that many dislike, such as brett, VA and new oak, together with the writer's subjective assessment whether they are obtrusive or sufficiently discreet to be additional elements of complexity. The reader can then aim off for his perception of the writer's tastes. For example, if Parker mentions oak tastes, I know there will be too much for me.
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Re: What do you look for in a tasting note?

Postby Florida Jim » Wed Jun 12, 2013 1:49 pm

Diction.
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Re: What do you look for in a tasting note?

Postby Jason Hagen » Wed Jun 12, 2013 11:05 pm

Jeff B wrote:I tend to write tasting notes for my own purposes. Meaning, that I try to write a note that will help me remember my own impressions. And if somebody else gets something from the note, then it's just a flattering bonus.


That is my starting point for notes I write.

As far as what I look for in notes from others, it really comes down to familiarity with the author. Either from reading and getting a feel for what they like or actually tasting together. Like Dietz, I have tasted with him a hundred times so I just know to ignore anything he says :lol: Kidding of course. In all seriousness, I have been reading notes from lots of people here for a long time so I don't really care about style or points or diction. I feel like can understand their "feelings" about the wine. That's why on cellartracker if the note is not from one of my friends, I don't really even take the time to read.

Cheers,

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Re: What do you look for in a tasting note?

Postby Tom NJ » Fri Jun 14, 2013 9:00 am

I grew up on, and still use for my own notes, the UC Davis 20-point system. If any elucidation or qualifiers are needed, they're done succinctly with universally accepted descriptors. Over the years I've found that's the best predictor of a wine's qualities for me, much more so than "It's a 95 point wine!!". And as in other writings, an excess of adjectives and adverbs muddies rather than clarifies. The writer often comes off as pretentious, precious, or worst of all: undiscerning.

I think of the long form writers, Michael Broadbent is as good as anyone. I still go through my 1980 "Great Vintage Wine Book" with much joy. When he expands on an entry it's informative without being flowery, the exact opposite of what I read from far too many other "luminaries" in the business. "Overwrought prose" does not seem to be a pejorative phrase to them.
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Hey....

Postby TomHill » Sun Jun 16, 2013 11:14 am

John Treder wrote:Good question. I wish I knew the answer for myself. For myself, if my note says, "GBNG", I may recollect the occasion and that may help. Or maybe I won't remember, and it'll be four consonants.
I was always a lousy note-taker.
Tom Hill's condensed, slashed and comma-ed notes sometimes are very evocative and other times are just (long/boring).
I tend to like notes that sort of express the "personality" of a wine. Dave Bueker, though his tastes and mine tend to differ (massive understatement warning), does a good job at that.
So there!


Hey...John......some of them are actually (short/boring)!!! :-)
My TN's are...sorta distinctive...in style. I just do them for my own benefit...it forces me to think a bit
and focus on the wine. If someone else gets anything from them..fine. If not...that's fine, too.
It's TheBloodyPulpit part that I really enjoy writing. Can be a bit creative...share a bit of history..
and stir-the-pot a bit (on occasion).
I only give a cursory glance to any scores attached to them..."Hmmm..a 95...he musta really liked that wine".
I get really turned off by a TN that uses descriptors that have no meaning...like "oven-roasted Galician bergamots"...
or "JonaGold apples stewed in d'Yquem over an open-fire of alderwood". Makes me think that the TN writer is really
reaching for descriptors just to make people think he knows what he's talking about.
And, then, there's "like rolling down a mountain field of alpine strawberries clutched closely into the bosom of
a nude JuliaChild"...that's just so ridiculous as to be laughable!! :-)
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Re: What do you look for in a tasting note?

Postby Andrew Bair » Tue Jun 18, 2013 7:58 pm

The notes that I enjoy reading the most are those that draw me in with detail and authenticity. For example, I have always liked the vivid imagery of Terry Theise's notes. On the board, to name one, I like the unique style of Tom Hill's notes, and the fact that he gives some useful background about some less familiar producers. On the other hand, cliches like "fruitbomb", "hedonistic", and "spoofy" can detract from the message for me. Of course, I'm as guilty as anyone else in being overly reliant on certain words and concepts.

Personally, I try to write notes that reflect my own impressions of a wine, rather than following someone's else's guidelines or style for writing a tasting note. I try to be as honest as possible about my impressions of a given wine.
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Re: What do you look for in a tasting note?

Postby YossiD » Wed Jun 19, 2013 3:16 am

Since I often don't detect the same flavors as the reviewers, that's less important to me.

I like to know about things like body, finish, tannins, astringence, fruitiness (I prefer less), balance, crispness (for whites), complexity, and how well the flavors are integrated. Those elements can help me know if a wine is for me and when I'd want to have it, and can help me decide, for example, if a wine is a good warm weather red, if it drinks well alone or is best saved to have with a meal, etc.

An indication of estimated drinking window is always welcome though that can be very hit or miss.

It's also nice if price and availability information are included.
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Re: What do you look for in a tasting note?

Postby ChaimShraga » Wed Jun 19, 2013 10:32 am

I received this... intriguing tasting note from K&L yesterday, which I won't quote in full to avoid copyright issues, just enough for you all to get the same sense of... arousal that it inspired in me:

"There are 3,000 cases of the naked, virginal, unoaked 2011 Bastide Miraflors Vieilles Vignes made from 70% Syrah and 30% Grenache aged in concrete. "
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Re: What do you look for in a tasting note?

Postby Craig Winchell » Wed Jun 19, 2013 10:52 am

Chaim, that is not a tasting note, but it does show the lengths merchants will go to make copy that is truthful. If virgin wool is nonrecycled, then I supposed virginal wine has also never been used before. I supposed the alternatives are wines extracted from vomit, piss or plasma. So I think that having virginal wine is a definite plus, though nothing extraordinary. Naked obviously means the bottles are unlabeled. So if they came labeled, it's grounds for legal action, as it would obviously be some sort of bait and switch tactic.
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