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Dear Dr. Vinny,

So what odor or nose does “garrigue” have if it is a blend of four to six flowering, herb-like plants? Is it pleasant or harsh?

—B.J.M., Ho-Ho-Kus, N.J.

Dear B.J.,

Garrigue” isn’t used that often as a wine descriptor, but all the examples I’ve ever seen have used it with a positive connotation. As I’ve written before, garrigue refers to the low-growing wild vegetation in the hills of the Mediterranean coast, including juniper, thyme, rosemary and lavender. It’s not just a single note, but the sum of them together.

Let’s say I’m trying to describe a wine, and I pick out a lavender note. Sometimes that note is so distinctive that I’ll just say “lavender” or “dried lavender,” if there’s that added touch of dried leaves. Sometimes the lavender note is less focused, so I might just use “floral” instead. But if it’s mingled with a fresh herbal, minty note, that’s when I will use “garrigue”.

—Dr. Vinny

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