Off the Vine: Everybody tastes flavors differently

September 26, 2012 

At a recent wine tasting event, I was listening to a discussion among three people about a wine that they were tasting and I thought it was interesting that each of them was using different words to describe the same flavor.

The wine was a Rioja from Spain, and, in my opinion, it started with a very earthy flavor. The three individuals used descriptive words such as musty, dirt, wet leaves and soil. Although different words were being used, everyone was correct in their description of this particular wine characteristic. So you taste a wine and try to describe it to a friend, be confident in the descriptive words that you use because each person tastes flavors differently.

The unique thing about wine is that there can be a number of aromas and flavors in the same glass and two people may taste something completely different. I tasted a 2010 Clos Du Bois Fume Blanc that had several layers of flavor, beginning with lime and grapefruit, and as the wine warmed a bit, it had a smooth silky finish. The wine appeared straw in color and was very nicely balanced. This wine was quite refreshing poolside on a warm day.

Clos Du Bois generally produces good wines at a tremendous value, which are also very easy to locate. The wines that I reviewed in this column were all priced in the $9 to $18 range. The winery is in the town of Geyserville, Calif., in the Alexander Valley region of Sonoma County. Alexander Valley is about an hour north of San Francisco and is home to more than 40 wineries, including Jordan Vineyards, Silver Oak Cellars and Rodney

Strong Vineyards -- just to name a few.

The 2010 Sauvignon Blanc North Coast contained fruit from Sonoma, Lake and Mendocino counties. This wine contained the classic flavors of a Sauvignon Blanc, with grapefruit on both the nose and the palate along with flavors of melon.

The wine was quite crisp and paired very well with a chopped salad with egg, bacon, green onion and diced tomatoes. This wine would also pair well with grilled fish.

Also tasted was the 2008 Merlot, which is comprised of a blend of fruit from several different counties throughout Northern California, along with a small amount of Cabernet Sauvignon to make the wine more structured.

This wine has a hint of vanilla, followed by flavors of cherry, plum and what appeared to be chocolate. This Merlot was powerful enough to stand up to a hearty red sauce and meatballs.

Clos du Bois has been making wine since 1974 and at the present time produces several tiers of wine in a wide range of varietals that include Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, Riesling and Zinfandel in addition to the wines reviewed.

Jim Rawe, a family attorney in Bradenton, is an avid collector of fine wines. His column appears weekly. He can be reached at

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