Some things I learned:
1. One way to understand the development and characteristics of wine is to use people as a metaphor. Wine grows and changes. The 2007 Chateau Lynch-Bages was still an adolescent, so the tannins were a bit scratchy. The 2007 Ormes de Pez was more masculine.
2. I learned about Saint-Estephe, a wine appellation thatI never knew existed. Within the Bordeaux wine region, there are smaller appellations. Each appellation has it own characteristics. Saint-Estephe is in the far north of Bordeaux. Lynch-Bages’ Ormes de Pez is a Saint-Estephe. this region is known for its hunters and wild game, and Saint-Estephe has the structure and the feistiness to match the meat. “What does the Saint-Estephe taste like? In a word- power.”
3. Adjectives are another way to communicate the personality of a wine. Each winery has its own favorite adjectives. Chateau Lynch-Bages’ favorite adjectives are smooth, round, and powerful.
4. Malolactic fermentation isn’t really fermentation. It’s a chemical process that takes place after fermentation, and it’s vital for the flavor of the wine. During malolactic fermentation, stringent malolactic acid naturally turns into creamy lactic acid. Waiting for the malolactic fermentation is a stressful time for winemakers. If malolactic fermentation doesn’t happen, the wine will not be delicious.
5. When you taste the wine, you taste the wine. “Your mind, your words.”
6. When wine people talk about terroir, they are talking about three different factors that influence the taste of a wine: climate, dirt, and tradition. The tradition aspect is the only piece of terroir that the winemaker can control. tradition can be charming and effective, or it can be hollow and superfluous. Chateau Lynch-Bages, along with nearly every winery in Bordeaux, uses egg whites to remove the sediment from their wine. We have alternative technologies that can clarify wine, but the egg thing has stuck. In my mind, this is an example of a wasteful and superfluous tradition.
7. The grapes that make good wine have a rough life. Sometimes, a vintage will be bad because of disastrous weather conditions, but sometimes the vintage will be bad because the conditions were too good. Too much water and too much comfort makes a watery wine with less personality. In order to make a good wine, the vines have to suffer.