Q&A with the buyers

Tim Sykes - Head of Buying

We put some of members’ frequently asked questions to our buyers. This month, head of buying Tim Sykes answers members’ questions on some tasting terms.

Q: What does is mean when a wine is described as ‘closed’?

A: A wine is sometimes described as being ‘closed’ if the aroma or flavour are rather subdued or dumb. It is not a fault in the wine, but it is very difficult to predict when in a wine’s evolution this might occur, if indeed it will. The expectation is that the wine will come out of this phase and show its true colours as it develops further in bottle; red wines tend to be more prone to this phenomenon than whites, but it’s not unheard of for wines with ageing potential to go through a closed phase.

Q: The word ‘minerality’ is quite often seen in wine descriptions, what does it mean exactly?

A: There isn’t an exact meaning of this term which can be used to describe a wine’s flavour, aroma or even texture. It is more often used for whites than reds and usually those produced in coolish climates, such as Chablis, Muscadet or Galicia in north-west Spain, for example. It aims to communicate a certain freshness and elegance that is not fruity or spicy but more like (some would say), the sensation of licking wet stones! There is a romantic notion that the soils in which the grapes are grown can impart actual minerality to the flavour of the wine, but this has been disproved by scientists.

Minerals

Minerals

Q: What does it mean if a wine is described as ‘fat’?

A: This is used to describe the texture or mouthfeel of a wine which is full-bodied and almost viscous in the mouth. It is often, but not exclusively, used in descriptions of oaked white wines from warm climates or to convey the almost oily feel of ripe gewurztraminer. Full-bodied reds from warm climates or vintages, such as Châteauneuf-du-Pape or Barossa shiraz, might also be described as ‘fat’ to communicate the idea that the wine has plenty of ripe fruit, low levels of acidity and lots of flavour.

Barossa Valley

Barossa Valley

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