WTN /WineAdvisor: Full body and back labels (Pigeoulet 05, Iris Hill 04 PG)

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WTN /WineAdvisor: Full body and back labels (Pigeoulet 05, Iris Hill 04 PG)

Postby Robin Garr » Wed Jan 10, 2007 2:23 pm

Full body and back labels

Maybe it's just me, but I find it a little more challenging to judge a wine's body than just about anything else about its appearance, aroma or flavor.

Perhaps this is because body, after all, is the only aspect of wine analysis that uses the sense of touch as opposed to sight, smell and taste. Body is not a flavor thing but a texture thing, the feeling of weight, thickness and viscosity (or the lack thereof) of the wine in your mouth.

This characteristic in wine may vary from light-bodied (as in some ethereal whites like Muscadet or lightweight reds like Beaujolais) through medium-bodied (a typical Chardonnay or Pinot Noir, maybe) to full-bodied (think buttery-style Chardonnay or "chewy" Chateauneuf-du-Pape) and on to a few so full that they start evoking terms like "unctuous" (as in the weightiest Alsatian Riesling or late-harvest dessert wines).

Alcohol is a determining factor in body or weight - higher-alcohol wines typically come across as fuller-bodied than their more modestly endowed kin - but residual sugar, tannins and even fruit extract can contribute to the textural impression. Short of laboratory analysis, the boundaries between light, medium and full body are very much up to the observer, and I've often seen reasonable judges disagree about a specific item.

The bottom line, as it so often is with wine, is that the judgement is up to you, and there's nothing like practice to develop skill.

Today's ruminations were inspired by a couple of recently tasted wines whose back labels contained descriptions that varied from my own impressions, leaving me to ponder whether the labels lied or if I simply can't tell the difference. Or maybe both!

Be that as it may, the back label of <b>2005 "Le Pigeoulet en Provence"</b> - a tasty Grenache-based Vin de Pays red that the Brunier family of Domaine Vieux-Telegraphe make from grapes grown in the Cotes-du-Rhone and the adjacent Cotes-du-Ventoux in Provence - declare it a "full-bodied" wine. I judged it rather light-bodied, and considered that a compliment to its refreshing, racy style. Another evening I opened a fruity, juicy, slightly sweet and very full-bodied Oregon white, the 2004 Pinot Gris from <B>Iris Hill</b>, and found to my amusement that its back label described this unctuous bowl of fruit as merely "medium-bodied." (Curiously enough, the winery Website came closer to agreement with my observation, describing the 2005 release as "round soft structure.")

Go figure. I'll draw two lessons from today's sermon: Practice, practice, practice; and don't trust the back label.

<table border="0" align="right" width="170"><tr><td><img src="http://www.wineloverspage.com/graphics1/pige0108.jpg" border="1" align="right"></td></tr></table>Brunier 2005 "Le Pigeoulet en Provence" Vin de Pays de Vaucluse ($14)

Dark garnet, with a clear edge. A blend of 80% Grenache and 10% each Syrah and Cinsaut, it shows off its Grenache character in ripe red berries and leafy herbal notes on the nose and palate. Light-bodied but juicy and forward, raspberry fruit and snappy acidity. Mouth-watering, refreshing, good with food - it was a delight with leftover smoked pork ribs and chicken from a fine local barbecue joint - but I'm a little puzzled by the back label's "full-bodied" language. U.S. importer: Kermit Lynch Wine Merchant, Berkeley, Calif. (Jan. 8, 2007)

<B>FIND THIS WINE ONLINE:</B>
Find Le Pigeoulet en Provence on Wine-Searcher.com:
http://www.wine-searcher.com/find/Pigeoulet/-/-/USD/A?referring_site=WLP

<table border="0" align="left" width="165"><tr><td><img src="http://www.wineloverspage.com/graphics1/iris0109.jpg" border="1" align="left"></td></tr></table>Iris Hill 2004 Oregon Pinot Gris ($14)

Clear straw color with glints of gold. Luscious pear and melon aromas, ripe and full, lead into a full-bodied, unctuous texture that's perceptibly off-dry with a pleasant, restrained fresh-fruit sweetness well balanced by crisp, fresh fruit acidity and just a whiff of peach-pit bitterness in the finish. Its 13.5% alcohol level is a bit on the hefty side for Pinot Gris, and perhaps contributes to its full body, but I remain bemused by the back label's assertion that it's "medium-bodied" and "dry." Good with richer poultry dishes or pork; it was fine with a somewhat gourmet-ified turkey hash with onions, finocchio and celery. Winery Website: http://www.iris-hill.com (Jan. 9, 2007)

<B>FIND THIS WINE ONLINE:</B>
Find Iris Hill Pinot Gris on Wine-Searcher.com:
[url=http://www.wine-searcher.com/find/Iris%2bHill%2bGris/-/-/USD/A?referring_site=WLP]http://www.wine-searcher.com/
find/Iris%2bHill%2bGris/-/-/USD/A?referring_site=WLP[/url]

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Re: WTN /WineAdvisor: Full body and back labels (Pigeoulet 05, Iris Hill 04 PG)

Postby Jenise » Thu Jan 11, 2007 3:02 pm

I've yet to try an Iris Hill, but I've seen the wines around. Your description certainly matches what I would expect to find in a bottle with that label. However, one or two persons have here have talked up the wines (the line includes pinot noirs), telling me it's more serious and less "girlie" than one would expect. I asked one seller if it sells well to men, and he grinned when he said "no". Bad choice of label, methinks.
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Re: WTN /WineAdvisor: Full body and back labels (Pigeoulet 05, Iris Hill 04 PG)

Postby Rahsaan » Thu Jan 11, 2007 8:52 pm

but I'm a little puzzled by the back label's "full-bodied" language.


Yes, I guess it's best not to read these labels too closely.
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Re: WTN /WineAdvisor: Full body and back labels (Pigeoulet 05, Iris Hill 04

Postby Robin Garr » Thu Jan 11, 2007 10:46 pm

Rahsaan wrote:Yes, I guess it's best not to read these labels too closely.


Or maybe to read them at all!
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Re: WTN /WineAdvisor: Full body and back labels (Pigeoulet 05, Iris Hill 04

Postby Bill Hooper » Fri Jan 12, 2007 12:28 am

Robin,

Thanks for jogging my memory about the Pigeoulet. It used to be a great 'go to' red for me. I haven't had it in years ('00 vintage?). -Used to be about $10. It's good to see it hasn't skyrocketed in price. I remember it having some Cabernet in the blend back then -not uncommon for the Vaucluse.


Prost!
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Re: WTN /WineAdvisor: Full body and back labels (Pigeoulet 05, Iris Hill 04

Postby Robin Garr » Fri Jan 12, 2007 1:35 am

Bill Hooper wrote:I haven't had it in years ('00 vintage?). -Used to be about $10. It's good to see it hasn't skyrocketed in price. I remember it having some Cabernet in the blend back then -not uncommon for the Vaucluse.


Bill, it's a fine item indeed! I don't recall the past cuvee, but a little splash of Cab is certainly not unknown in that neck of the woods. I learned to my amusement during a winery visit that Mas de Gourgonnier, another great, affordable "go-to" red of the region, has Cab added to the American export bottling but not to the one that stays home. Go figure!
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Re: WTN /WineAdvisor: Full body and back labels (Pigeoulet 05, Iris Hill 04

Postby James G. Lester » Fri Jan 12, 2007 3:58 am

Robin,

My experience is that acidity can affect one's perception of body. Higher acidity makes the body of a wine seem lighter. This might explain your impression of the Cote du Ventoux. Pinot Gris is a low acid grape as is Gewurztraminer. Leave in a little residual sugar and you will likely experience the wine as plump. But we are really dealing with marketing here! "Plump" won't sell very many bottles of the Pinot Gris, while "full-bodied" will help sell any red!

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Re: WTN /WineAdvisor: Full body and back labels (Pigeoulet 05, Iris Hill 04

Postby Robin Garr » Fri Jan 12, 2007 9:31 am

James G. Lester wrote:My experience is that acidity can affect one's perception of body. Higher acidity makes the body of a wine seem lighter. This might explain your impression of the Cote du Ventoux. Pinot Gris is a low acid grape as is Gewurztraminer. Leave in a little residual sugar and you will likely experience the wine as plump. But we are really dealing with marketing here! "Plump" won't sell very many bottles of the Pinot Gris, while "full-bodied" will help sell any red!


Excellent hypothesis, James, thanks! I can see an interesting side-by-side tasting coming up here ...
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