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10 strange but true wine descriptors

What do cat’s pee, sea spray and horse hair have in common? They might sound like ingredients in a witchy potion, but they’re actually all aromas you could find wafting from your wine glass. Sounds strange, but it’s true and there’s more. Check out the top ten:

  1. Cat’s pee: Sauvignon Blanc lovers might be familiar with this one. It’s particularly apparent in cool climate examples and it’s not a negative description, so don’t let it put you off your next glass of Savvy.
  2. Kerosene: This can be found in aged Rieslings and comes from the compound 1,1,6-trimethyl-1,2-dihyronaphthalene (TDN). Whether it’s a desirable trait or not comes down to personal taste.
  3. Wet stone: Take a whiff of Semillon, Riesling or Chardonnay and you might pick up this character. It describes minerality and is a savoury term, so it means you’re sniffing a great food matching wine.
  4. Sea spray: If your Chardonnay is transporting your senses to the beach, you’ve scored yourself a complex, well-made expression of the variety.
  5. Baked bread: There’s nothing quite like the smell of freshly baked bread, even if it is coming from your glass of Sparkling wine. It’s a sign of secondary fermentation so it’s desirable in Sparkling and Chardonnay, but watch out if you smell it in other wines because it could be a fault.
  6. Struck match: While sulphur dioxide is a common wine additive, if you can smell struck match, the sulphur dioxide has been poorly handled. This fault can also be described as burnt rubber or mothballs.
  7. Sweaty saddle: Brettanomyces, or Brett, is a type of yeast that can, when used at low levels, can add positive attributes to a wine. However, the perception of excessive levels is a fault.
  8. Horse hair: Continuing the horsy theme, this is another description of Brett.
  9. Tractor shed: More precisely, the oil on the dirt that’s leaked from a tractor – another Brett descriptor.
  10. Mousy: Another term to describe a fault, this time from bacteria, mousy is interesting because it’s an aroma that only certain people can pick up. So if you can pick up a scent of rodent, you’re one of the chosen few!

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Masters of Riesling - Jim Barry Wines
We caught up with second generation winemaker Peter Barry, whose stunning Jim Barry The Lodge Riesling 2015 from the Clare Valley is the Wine of the Month for August. What makes the Clare Valley such a special grape growing wine region? The Clare Valley is such a special grape growing region due to the warm days and cool nights which allow grapes to ripen fully but retain natural acidity and hence freshness. The undulating hills provide many aspects so we can grow Riesling, Shiraz and Cabernet on different slopes of the same vineyard. What are some of the winemaking challenges it presents? The major winemaking challenge in Riesling is sunburn, which can be mitigated by canopy management to ensure no fruit is exposed to direct sunlight. For red wine, it is about picking at the right time to achieve a balance between ripeness and acid without the grapes becoming over ripe. What have been some of Jim Barry Wines’ greatest achievements in recent years? We’ve had great success, but some of the standouts include: Mathew Jukes Australian Winery of the year for 2016. Trophy for 2016 Lodge Hill Riesling at the 2016 Royal Sydney Wine Show Trophy for Barry Brothers Shiraz Cabernet for 2013 as the Brisbane and Melbourne Wine Shows, as well as Trophy in Brisbane for the 2014 vintage. Trophy for best producer at the Clare Valley Wine Show for five of the past six vintages. Also we’re very proud to have introduced the Greek variety of Assyrtiko to Australia. Can you sum up your experience of the 2016 vintage in a few words? Good rains in January hydrated very thirsty vines, leading to an exceptional vintage. When Jim Barry purchased the Lodge Hill vineyard in 1977 he was confident it would “produce some of the best Riesling in Clare”. What did he see that was so special about this vineyard? Three things. Elevation which leads to cooler night and better acid retention in Riesling, rocky/slatey soil meaning the vines have to send their roots deep into the ground in search of moisture and many aspects to suit Riesling, Shiraz and Cabernet. The Jim Barry The Lodge Hill Riesling 2015 is the Wine Selectors Wine of the Month for August. What makes this a standout expression of the variety? The 2015 The Lodge Hill Riesling shows the perfect balance between ripe flavours, acidity and minerality. We matched it with Thai pork salad in our 2016 calendar. What is your favourite food match with this wine? With its natural acidity and zesty citrus, Riesling is the perfect match for spicy Asian food. Having said that, The Lodge Hill is absolutely delicious with a simple plate of freshly shucked oysters with finger lime.
Two Blues Sauvignon Blanc 2014
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