Yesterday, tasting my way through Willamette Valley as part of the Passport Tour, my companions and I decided to “geek out” by describing wine using only all-new descriptors. Perhaps it is my love of the literary movement of Russian Absurdism, but as we drank more and more, and our words became more and more absurd, a bright light suddenly shone over the entire language game of wine descriptions: Wine can evoke images and personal associations as valid as any tasting notes.
2006 Dundee Hills Black Family Estate 1.5L Magnum
“Objective” Rating: 9
G: None of these wines quite have the aroma I want. I want the smell of Tanya, a model that I was casting in Paris. Beautiful; she would undress in front of anyone, and her
blond brown hair, her big boobs (gestures)… I want this wine to smell like Tanya when she was naked. She was the type of girl who would say, (Parisian accent) “I’m going to the store to buy a guitar; this afternoon, I will teach myself to play.”
“Objective” Rating: 5
K: I love this wine.
Me: I hate this wine. Flabby.
G: It’s a classy French female vocalist… Carla Bruni...
K: Edith Piaf?
G: No, she’s too edgy. She’s a red.
Me: This wine’s more fleshy. How about Barry Manilow?
K + G: Ha ha, you’re disgusting.
G: I’m thinking Brigitte Bardot. What I really want is a Joan from Mad Men.
2008 “Willamette Valley” Pinot Noir
“Objective” Rating: I don’t get it
K: Literally tastes like dirt.
Me: A dirty politician? Dick Cheney.
K: No, like a homeless person. Mel Brooks in Life Stinks.
G: It’s like a person who appears to be one way, then turns out to be another.
2008 Cote Sud Vineyard Chardonnay
“Objective” Rating: 10
Me: Is this Joan from Mad Men?
G: No, I don’t like this wine.
Me: This wine is fascinating! It’s crème brulée and vanilla, but so much more. Karen McNeil wrote that “a complex wine almost defies you to describe it,” and this wine absolutely shocks me in a way that few wines ever had. I have no idea if I like it, but I find it awesome.
Then, in the Domaine Serene tasting room, we reached a whole nother level of tasting, with the help of the best Tasting Room Lady ever...
2007 “Evenstad” Reserve Pinot Noir
“Objective” Rating: 10
K: It tastes like — and I mean this in a good way — the backseat of a car...my grandfather is driving.
Tasting Room Lady: Is it summer?
K: No, no, and it’s night.
TRL: Are you going to stop for ice cream?
K: No, we’re coming back from a day trip. It’s very comforting.
TRL: You’re safe with your grandfather.
“Objective” Rating: 8
G: A French sewing room in an apartment. There are walls and walls of fabric, predominantly satin.
K: I see it. Sun streams in through the windows, and the cushions have faded.
TRL: What color are the cushions?
G: They’ve faded too much to tell. There’s a cat lying in the sunlight.
TRL: What kind of cat? I’m seeing black and white.
G: I think it’s a blue-haired Persian.