Friday, December 16, 2016

What does "velvet" mean, in the bouquet of a wine, anyway?

I have long described my favorite Bordeaux blend bouquet as containing "velvet," meaning velvet as a fabric, not as a vague reference to a wine's "smoothness." To me, "velvet" in that aromatic sense has a meaning that I cannot put into words. There is no reason to think that velvet fabric has a particular smell, unless perhaps it's the dye in the fabric, or the dust in it, and maybe that is it. But I doubt the wonderful thing I smell in good Bordeaux blends is due to a dye.

But read this, copied from K Vintner's description of its 2014 Royal City Syrah (a $140 wine):
"Wrapped in a regal robe. Aromas of black olive, morels, velvet theatre drapes waft up from the glass. Giving way to a deep long palate, black plum skin, cured meat, leather and forest floor. Compelling and complete. From a wine there is nothing more to ask. Another great vintage in the story that is Royal City."  - Charles Smith

First, notice there is no fruit mentioned in the bouquet. Just olives (OK, maybe olives are a fruit), mushrooms, and velvet. Then, notice the reference to "velvet," as if that is a smell we all recognize. So there is something here, but what?

Homework, everyone! Find a theater with a velvet curtain, and go inhale deeply of it, and report back...and look for that smell in good wines!

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