JWL Issue #102: Is there actually jasmine here? What are aromas?

June 30, 2020

The Bordeaux Wine Council introduced a new category system last week in a trial. To simplify Bordeaux wine for a new audience, it's testing out four categories: fresh & crisp, smooth and fruity, rich & complex, and ethical.

It's odd to separate 'ethical' from the other categories which all describe a wine's style. While an abuse of data classifications (it is comparing apples and oranges), it can also cause a negative impact in the perception of wine. Not all organic wine is ethical, nor is all non-organic wine unethical.

As I blogged last Friday, separating ethical out in that way will no doubt have terrible knock-on effects for the perception of organic wine on the whole.

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July signals the first month we will be a wine importer. Our first birthday anniversary will be the August box and so to be importing at under one year old is an incredible feeling. I can't wait to hear what you all think.

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We have some availability left in July for our Teams Tastings. These are geared towards remote work socials and client events. We've ran over 40 events so far for companies including Facebook, Google, and Transferwise, as well as some of London's best PR agencies, chambers, and insurance firms. We can run these for any group of 9 people or more. Enquire for more info.

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Taste this week focuses on wines you might like from the supermarket if you enjoyed last month's June deliveries. We've got two recommendations for the white, and one recommendation for the red.


If you liked June's wines

If you liked our Cara Sucia, you'll love Louis Jadot Beaujolais Villages. You should be able to pick this up from most supermarkets for around the £10 mark. Stick this in the fridge for 45 minutes before you want to drink it and it'll be the perfect temperature for sunny days or muggy evenings. Loads of juicy red fruits, and smooth tannins.

We received so much love for the Massaya Blanc (so glad – we loved it too!). This had loads of interesting characteristics for it, so we've got a couple of recommendations based in different directions those...Massaya had a big white flowers aroma to it (white flowers most commonly means jasmine, but sometimes some hawthorn too). If that's what you liked, Zibbibo from Lidl (£7.49). This grape is from Sicily, and typically makes sweet dessert wines, but Zibbibo is a dry style packed full of white flowers.

Texturally, the Massaya had a rich, creamy body to it thanks to time it spent on the lees. This sort of body can be seen in a variety of wines. For something quite different, see what it looks like in Tesco Finest Pouilly Fume (£13). This is a sauvignon blanc that's had 6-12 months on lees given the greeny aromas, a rich textural finish.

We'd recommend buying both of these and write your notes in comparison to the Massaya – identifying what characteristics of the wine it is you like will be a huge helping stepping stone in improving your wine knowledge.


So is there actually jasmine in this glass?

What exactly are we smelling, when we can smell lime zest or lavender or black pepper in a glass of wine? The wines haven't ever been flavoured with anything (or at least they shouldn't have been), so where are those aromas coming from?

Wine is made up of loads of chemical molecules. These can come from a few places. The grape, fermentation, maturation and ageing will all be responsible for different molecules and different intensities.

When we smell a certain aroma that we associate with something else, it's because that molecule will exist in both.

Take terpenes for example. Terpenes are a class of compounds produced by a variety of plants. Geraniol is one that you might find in both muscat and gewürztraminer. It is also present in rose oil. And, you guessed it, is why you can sometimes smell roses in your gewürz.

Our ability to smell different aromas comes with practice. Not to mention, is hugely influenced by our own experiences and backgrounds. But those aromas are there chemically, which is why to a well-trained nose, they can be found.

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