The photograph on Twitter showed a lineup of Hermitage bottles. The caption read "Liquid Rock."
This was obviously meant to laud the mineral character that famously runs through great Hermitage reds, made from Syrah on granite slopes. I get it. Minerality is the flavor darling of the moment in wine. We may not agree on exactly what it is—a whiff of the aroma we get off of wet pavement? River stones? That bricklike character that basalt rocks can give off? Or maybe just a vibrancy that comes from high acidity? But wines that have it get extra kudos from many sommeliers and wine writers, including me.
On the other hand, anyone who isn't a wine insider might wonder if that can possibly be good. It certainly would not make my cousin Morty want to drink the wine. Or, probably, most anyone who has not passed a course in advanced winespeak.
Mineral aromatics are just one of a whole range of flavors usually lumped under the more general categories of "savory" or "earthy" that wine geeks love but leave regular folks wondering what we're talking about.
I always have a conversation with myself about how specific I need to be when I detect these characteristics. Do I really need to specify in a published tasting note what sort of gamy flavor I find when it's just a grace note, or is it enough to note that there's a hint of gamy or meaty character? It's not just gaminess. Should I mention that the herbal aromatics have tipped over into a hint of rotten salad, especially if the overall effect of the wine is positive?
For me, what matters is how prevalent that flavor might be. If I had to tease it out from a range of background characteristics, it's probably not worth mentioning because it might convey a negative association when I really like the wine. Better to keep it general, and focus on what distinguishes the wine from its peers. Usually it's the sense of harmony and expressiveness that matters, not a specific flavor.
How about you? Do you find these associations off-putting or exciting?