Mealy - what does it mean?

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Mealy - what does it mean?

Postby Sue Courtney » Wed Mar 22, 2006 8:29 pm

Writing and talking about wine almost constantly means that wine jargon creeps into your language. I thought about it the other night at a wine tasting when the presenter described a wine as 'mealy' and one of the tasters asked, 'What do you mean by mealy?"

I've always associated mealy to the smell and complex flavours that are the result of barel ferment, maturation sur lie (on yeast lees) and batonage (lees stirring).

Is there a more meaningful, singular word than 'mealy' to describe this?
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Re: Mealy - what does it mean?

Postby Steve Guattery » Thu Mar 23, 2006 1:47 am

What was the context in which the presenter used the term? I'm not familiar with its use in describing wine. I've usually heard it used to describe the texture of food (e.g., mealy apples or potatoes).
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Re: Mealy - what does it mean?

Postby Sue Courtney » Thu Mar 23, 2006 2:47 am

Hi Steve,
The aroma of a chardonnay.
Cheers,
Sue
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Re: Mealy - what does it mean?

Postby Randy Buckner » Thu Mar 23, 2006 3:10 am

Sue Courtney wrote:Hi Steve,
The aroma of a chardonnay.
Cheers,
Sue


This is strange, Sue. Like Steve, I've always seen mealy refer to a textural component, not an olfactory nuance.

Hey, good to see you posting! I still take advantage of your site frequently -- thanks so much. I just had four cases of NZ SB delivered to my office today.
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Re: Mealy - what does it mean?

Postby Neil Courtney » Thu Mar 23, 2006 6:10 am

What SB's are you drinking these days?
Cheers,
Neil Courtney

'Wine improves with age. The older I get, the better I like it.' --- Anonymous.
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Re: Mealy - what does it mean?

Postby Randy Buckner » Thu Mar 23, 2006 2:49 pm

Neil Courtney wrote:What SB's are you drinking these days?


Just got two cases of Dashwood and two cases of Dogpoint. What are some of your fav '05s?
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Re: Mealy - what does it mean?

Postby Sue Courtney » Thu Mar 23, 2006 3:02 pm

Randy Buckner wrote:
Neil Courtney wrote:What SB's are you drinking these days?


Just got two cases of Dashwood and two cases of Dogpoint. What are some of your fav '05s?


You know, it was the Dogpoint Section 94 2004 (wild yeast ferment, oak-aged sauvignon blanc) that caused me to write a spiel on my website about 'mealy' and a couple of other words, which I'll probably raise here as different topics later.

Mealy is a word I also often used until a couple of weeks ago, as it became clear that different people have different meanings for it, that is if they know what it means at all. I think of it as cornmeal, oatmeal aromas and flavours that come with sur lie and batonage. I don't think of it as a textural thing at all.

Cheers,
Sue
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Re: Mealy - what does it mean?

Postby Randy Buckner » Thu Mar 23, 2006 3:34 pm

Sue Courtney wrote:Mealy is a word I also often used until a couple of weeks ago, as it became clear that different people have different meanings for it, that is if they know what it means at all. I think of it as cornmeal, oatmeal aromas and flavours that come with sur lie and batonage. I don't think of it as a textural thing at all.

Cheers,
Sue


Now you made me have to work -- shame on you. I looked mealy up in a food dictionary:

mealy
1. Having a dry or powdery texture that resembles meal. 2. A term used to describe the texture of a baked potato as slightly dry and almost crumbly.
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Re: Mealy - what does it mean?

Postby Oliver McCrum » Thu Mar 23, 2006 4:18 pm

I use mealy to describe a white wine that is deficient in acidity; to me a mealy apple is cotton-wooly, not sapid and refreshing.
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Re: Mealy - what does it mean?

Postby Sue Courtney » Thu Mar 23, 2006 5:10 pm

Oliver McCrum wrote:I use mealy to describe a white wine that is deficient in acidity; to me a mealy apple is cotton-wooly, not sapid and refreshing.


Thanks Oliver. Interesting to see that what what person means is totally different to how another interprets it.

Would you never think of mealy as the smell of cornmeal or oatmeal?
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Re: Mealy - what does it mean?

Postby Sue Courtney » Thu Mar 23, 2006 5:27 pm

Oliver McCrum wrote:I use mealy to describe a white wine that is deficient in acidity; to me a mealy apple is cotton-wooly, not sapid and refreshing.


Mind you, most of the wines I describe as having a mealy aroma and mealy-derived flavours are lower acid wines. It is not a term that I would associate with Riesling or most Sauvignon Blancs. More with complex Chardonnay and oak-age-barrel fermented, lees-stirred Sauvignon Blancs - alternative styles like Cloudy Bay Te Koko and Dog Point Section 94 from Marlborough.
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Re: Mealy - what does it mean?

Postby Sue Courtney » Thu Mar 23, 2006 5:28 pm

Randy Buckner wrote:
Now you made me have to work -- shame on you. I looked mealy up in a food dictionary:

mealy
1. Having a dry or powdery texture that resembles meal. 2. A term used to describe the texture of a baked potato as slightly dry and almost crumbly.


Interesting :!: I have never thought of it as a textural thing.
To me it is an aromatic thing.
Quite a few kiwis I know use the term mealy. I wonder why :?:
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Re: Mealy - what does it mean?

Postby Steve Guattery » Thu Mar 23, 2006 5:39 pm

Randy Buckner wrote:Now you made me have to work -- shame on you. I looked mealy up in a food dictionary:

mealy
1. Having a dry or powdery texture that resembles meal. 2. A term used to describe the texture of a baked potato as slightly dry and almost crumbly.


I'm late getting back to this, but this is the sense in which I've heard the word applied. Apples that have been stored for a long time often become mealy, too. Not powdery, but having a granular texture.
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Re: Mealy - what does it mean?

Postby David Lole » Thu Mar 23, 2006 7:28 pm

Sue Courtney wrote:
Randy Buckner wrote:
Now you made me have to work -- shame on you. I looked mealy up in a food dictionary:

mealy
1. Having a dry or powdery texture that resembles meal. 2. A term used to describe the texture of a baked potato as slightly dry and almost crumbly.


Interesting :!: I have never thought of it as a textural thing.
To me it is an aromatic thing.
Quite a few kiwis I know use the term mealy. I wonder why :?:


I'm with you Sue.

If anyone googles Mealy and Chardonnay you may get some perpective of the the slighty toasted cornmeal/oatmeal oak-derived aromas and tastes that Sue refers to.

Interesting original request, Sue - I'd just keep using the term - a case of "it is what it is", IMHO.
Cheers,

David
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Re: Mealy - what does it mean?

Postby Oliver McCrum » Thu Mar 23, 2006 8:37 pm

Sue Courtney wrote:
Oliver McCrum wrote:I use mealy to describe a white wine that is deficient in acidity; to me a mealy apple is cotton-wooly, not sapid and refreshing.


Thanks Oliver. Interesting to see that what what person means is totally different to how another interprets it.

Would you never think of mealy as the smell of cornmeal or oatmeal?


I think the fruit comparison got my attention immediately; I suppose one could just as well use the other, though, given that lees-aged whites and Champagne sometimes have that kind of mealiness. I may avoid the term from now on; whenever a term has people saying 'Well, for ME this means...' we're not communicating very well.
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Re: Mealy - what does it mean?

Postby Sue Courtney » Fri Mar 24, 2006 4:10 pm

David Lole wrote:I'm with you Sue.

If anyone googles Mealy and Chardonnay you may get some perpective of the the slighty toasted cornmeal/oatmeal oak-derived aromas and tastes that Sue refers to.

Interesting original request, Sue - I'd just keep using the term - a case of "it is what it is", IMHO.


Hi David - you made it!
I know a lot of people who drink a lot of chardonnay down under use the term mealy, to describe it exactly as you have, "slighty toasted cornmeal/oatmeal oak-derived aromas".
If the Americans don't know the term, could it be the influence of some prominent down-under writer, do you think?
My gosh, there are a lot of hits returned in Google for mealy Chardonnay.
I see that Michael Brajkovich MW (Kumeu River Wines) uses it, wine writer Bob Campbell MW uses it, even NZ-based American writer Paul White gets a hit for using it. Of the Aussie writers, hits are recorded against Huon Hooke, Jeremy Oliver and Tim White.
I wonder if the Brits use mealy :?:
Cheers,
Sue
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Re: Mealy - what does it mean?

Postby Sue Courtney » Fri Mar 24, 2006 4:20 pm

Steve Guattery wrote:
Randy Buckner wrote:Now you made me have to work -- shame on you. I looked mealy up in a food dictionary:

mealy
1. Having a dry or powdery texture that resembles meal. 2. A term used to describe the texture of a baked potato as slightly dry and almost crumbly.


I'm late getting back to this, but this is the sense in which I've heard the word applied. Apples that have been stored for a long time often become mealy, too. Not powdery, but having a granular texture.


Is that how you describe those apples? That would fit the American Red Delicious that we get (or used to get) in New Zealand in the off months. They looked nice but had obviously been stored too long as they were soft and tasteless within. My only description for them was 'yuk'.
I asked Neil and he said he would be inclined to describe them as floury. We get floury potatoes too. Hey, we had a bag of corked potatoes about a month ago. Not very nice.
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Re: Mealy - what does it mean?

Postby Steve Guattery » Fri Mar 24, 2006 4:32 pm

Is that how you describe those apples? That would fit the American Red Delicious that we get (or used to get) in New Zealand in the off months. They looked nice but had obviously been stored too long as they were soft and tasteless within. My only description for them was 'yuk'.


Yep. I find Red Delicious apples to be slightly mealy even when fresh. I'm not a fan of their flavor when fresh, either - too sweet, not nearly tart enough. I might find those tasteless ones an improvement...
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