The SOMM Journal

August/September 2014

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Page 47 of 119

48 { THE SOMM JOURNAL } AUGUST/SEPTEMBER 2014 IN OUR HUMBLE OPINION, THERE'S NO BETTER TIME THAN THE DOG days of summer to sample thirst-quenching wines. So, for August, we decided to go beyond the giddy exuberance of spring rosés and provide some soul- satisfying sips that could do service to both the current and impending seasons. For our first tasting panel, I found a ready captain in Mike Madrigale, Head Sommelier of Manhattan's Bar Boulud and Boulud Sud. I asked Mike to assemble a team of tasters for the Quaff Report on mineral-driven wines, a category that presents conundrums to consumers—and, as we discovered, sommeliers too. Mike set the standard: "Minerality or mineral-driven wines are those that are not highlighted by oak regimen or fruitiness but by soil flavors and stoniness. When it applies to white wines, it means low alcohol, high acid and freshness." The Quaff Report team blind-tasted 13 wines. We were region-agnostic: the only submission requirement was wines be as mineral as possible. Of the 30 bottles submitted, half were immediately eliminated for not meeting the cat - egory requirements, among them a Soave, a demi-sec Vouvray and some flat- land Spanish wines. It was an indication right away that minerality has a wide interpretation. Mike assembled sommeliers from Manhattan's top tables: Michelle Biscieglia, Wine Director, Blue Hill; Eduardo Port Carreiro, Head Sommelier, DBGB Kitchen & Bar; Aldo Sohm, Wine Director, Le Bernadin; Jeff Taylor, Wine Director, Betony; and Arnaud Tronche, partner in Racines. I asked the sommeliers to comment on the difficulties of describing minerality, and as expected, received answers that mixed the technical aspects with the taste sensation. Jeff offered up a straight-forward description: "Minerality to me is the non- fruit and non-oak descriptors for a wine—things like chalk, crushed seashells, gravel, gun flint, a sidewalk after a light rain." But he noted that it's a term often overused and misunderstood. "I feel like when people run out of descriptors for a wine, after they've named all of the fruit and herbs, they often just say 'minerality' instead of really defining what that minerality is," he concluded. Eduardo called it "one of the more important components of a great wine." "That said, it is one of the more difficult terms to define," he added. "To me, a OUR PANEL OF SOMMS DISCOVERS THAT MINERALITY HAS A WIDE INTERPRETATION by Lana Bortolot / photos by David Handschuh team captain: Mike Madrigale Team captain Mike Madrigale of Bar Boulud and Boulud Sud. The panel gets down to work. Mineral-Driven Wines

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