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james suckling uncorked

Proud Father, Excellent 1996 Barbarescos


Posted: Oct 25, 2006 2:52pm ET

I was tasting a couple dozen 1996 Barbarescos for a coming story on the 10-year anniversary of the vintage for the magazine, and I decided to bring a half-full bottle of the 1996 Gaja Barbaresco to lunch at the restaurant below my house at Il Borro. My children, Jack and Isabel, are here as well, so it’s a bit of a juggle with time. Combine this with jetlag, and I'm not sure where I am.

Anyway, I was having lunch with the children and I had a glass of 1996 Gaja Barbaresco and I asked Jack what he thought about it. He took the glass and smelled the wine.

“Strawberries with balsamic vinegar,” he said.

My jaw dropped. “What did you say?” I asked.

“Strawberries in balsamic vinegar, like we have for pudding during the summer,” he said in a matter of fact way.

Not bad for a 12-year-old, I thought to myself. But he is my son. And I was very proud. I’ll have to remember his description tomorrow, when I taste some 1996 Barolos in blind tastings in my office. And the 1996s are showing very well in general.

Lisa H Andrews
CHATTANOOGA,TN 37402 —  October 25, 2006 3:50pm ET
jamesgreat story about your son My daughter had a similar experience at her very first Grand tasting She discovered her favorite wine was Chateau Margaux. Not bad for a 21 yr old
Jeremy Matouk
Port of Spain, Trinidad —  October 28, 2006 9:38pm ET
Funny thing, this picking out of specific flavours. I drink wine every evening and have been doing so for 20 years, yet I have the most difficult time in identifying flavours. I tend to describe wines in terms of structure, mouthfeel, balance, length, complexity, etc. When it comes to identifying specific flavours I usually offer my children a sniff and a sip. They, who drink little wine, are far better at picking out specific flavours. My daughter (21) is very good at it, in that I tend to agree with her descriptions. I know that wine specialists are trained to match and identify specific flavours in wine and this training can take years. Yet when it comes to blind tasting and identifying the better wines, my palate is pretty reliable and hard to fool. I can usually pick a varietal and most times even identify a country or origin and a style. I feel there is an overemphasis on the description of specific flavours and not enough focus on the sensual qualities of wines in most of the commentary and tasting notes in most publications (WS included)Your thoughts, James?
James Suckling
 —  October 29, 2006 1:12am ET
Jeremy. I try to describe wines as you do and then throw in a few descriptors. I think that structural description is more important than raspberry, berry....blah, blah. But may be that's my traditional background learning to taste with European wines?

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