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Level Up 2!
Level Up is a series to chronicle the development of my novice taste for wine (and beer and whisky). The goal is every time something new or stands out for me, I’ll post it and you can try it for yourself if you are starting out like me. Hope you’ll join me for the ride.
So it has been a while since last we met. Since then I have traversed the great plains of Westeros, witnessed a complete rout of American Pale Ales by a titanic Belgian force , uncovered the magic earth gems of Saisons and crossed paths with a Tasmanian Pinot of vengeance. My adventuring reached a culmination point with a challenge to a mighty Cabernet Sauvignon of Margaret River, in which I emerged battered, bruised but victorious.


Now to take stock of my inventory, assign my new skill points and continue to craft my arsenal of descriptors.

Coldstream Chardonnay 2013 +100XP

Peach: The traditional Chardonnays I am used to (and still have a preference for) are heavy on the oak and butter, which may cover up the characteristic stone fruit flavours. Coldstream was part of my foray into lighter more delicate Chardonnays and this was the first time that I was picking up peach as a flavour.

Xanadu Chardonnay 2013 +100XP

Cream: This one was incredibly creamy and never had a Chardonnay quite like it. Combined with stone fruit characteristics I have begun to pick up, this one tasted like a dessert of peaches and cream

Yeringberg Viognier (Game of Rhones) +200XP

Apricot: For a long time Viognier was a very distinct smell for me (especially in Shiraz Viognier blends) however the apricot descriptor never made sense. This was the first time that it clicked in and now when I get a whiff of Viognier it feels like someone has smooshed my face into an apricot.

Seppelt St Peters 1998 +100XP

Cedar: I wrote this up earlier and it was a revelation in terms of aged wines. A slight addendum: cedar on the aroma was something new and also not a flavour I have noticed before in younger wines.

Carpineto Chianti Reserva 2009: +100XP

Liquorice: I got a clear liquorice note although I have since been told that liquorice is not a characteristic of Sangiovese. Maybe I have crossed wires with another flavour but liquorice still stuck out for me for this chianti.

Picnic Two Paddocks Pinot Noir New Zealand 2014: +300XP

Blackcurrant: I have had trouble being able to pick out specific fruit from a generalised berry (cassis) flavour. To my surprise this Pinot Noir (from celebrity Sam Neill) had distinctive blackcurrant on the aroma and the palate. Finally breaking through the cassis barrier!

Duck Sauce Pinot Noir 2013: +100XP

Strawberry: Another break through of trying to get to the bottom of berry characteristics. I could not pick the flavour off the bat but was given a strawberry to bite into to compare directly. After this side-by-side fruit and wine, it became obvious that strawberry was the dominant fruit flavour.

Baird Single Take Session Ale: +50XP

Tropical Fruit: If you had told me a year ago that flavours of canned tropical fruit cocktail can be tasted in beer I would have laughed at you. Yet here we are.

La Sirene Wild Saison: +200XP

Barnyard & Savoury: A particularly challenging beer and the first one where savoury characteristics are dominant. The flavours come across like ‘barnyard’ although I must admit that the descriptor is still a bit vague in my head. As a side note, Saisons are particularly foamy and this one took almost 10 minutes for the head to settle down so that I could actually pour out a glass.



Final Thoughts

Initially when I started this I was only expecting to have a revelatory taste moment every once in a while. However once I started paying more attention to what I am tasting, these little breakthroughs occur surprisingly frequently. The primary influence which has contributed to this is the direct comparison of wines in a line up, as well as having discussion with friends over the same drinks. It is a funny thing as I have been drinking wine/beer/whisky for many years now, but only in the last year has my ability to identify tastes really increased. I feel my power growing….



Level Up!!!


More posts from this series:

About The Author
Peter Tan avatar
Peter Tan
Dilettante. I had to look that up.

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