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 Editorial  Share this article     Summary of Wine Tasting column Events 
  Wine Tasting Issue 98, Summer 2011   
Moelleux: the Soft Roundness of WineMoelleux: the Soft Roundness of Wine Wines of the MonthWines of the Month  Contents 
Issue 97, June 2011 Follow DiWineTaste on Follow DiWineTaste on TwitterIssue 99, September 2011

Moelleux: the Soft Roundness of Wine

For many it is the gustatory sensation typical in great wines, for others it is the distinctive mark of standardized and predictable wines, in perfect international style

 For many years, round wines - with that thick and rich roundness, almost mellow with a vague sugary taste - have been declaimed and praised by every wine guide and by most of wine lovers. For years, these wines, have undoubtedly been the enological reference all over the world, they suddenly became the protagonist of every glass, copied by many, both in their good quality as well as in bad ones. Last but not the least, this kind of wines has strongly influenced wine marketing, while trying to satisfy the taste and the increasing requests of consumers, in order to ensure higher profits. In case a wine was not “round”, it did not have the consent of the mass, at worst, it was a wine which was poured in the glasses of those who were looking for different sensorial emotions. It is a matter of taste, of course, however, sometimes the excess of roundness can make a wine unbalanced and not very interesting, with no surprises, however reassuring.


 

 For a long time, wines capable of expressing a certain elegance - a concept that, it should be said, is quite subjective - from the harmony of aromas to gustatory balance, seemed not to have the consent of wine lovers anymore. For a long time, they tried to look for the reassuring embrace of round smells, in particular the ones obtained from the aging and fermentation in barrique, very direct and standardized, in order make them taste like countless other wines. Also in the mouth things were not so different: the “simplicity” of a round wine, with no complications, most of the times with a robust body, almost huge, kept at a distance - sometimes even suffocating them completely - both acidity and astringency of tannins. In this gustatory picture, also alcohol found a greater expression - element that, we should not forget, significantly contributes to the sensation of roundness - with the effect of obtaining more alcoholic wines.

 These wines, with a strong round character, so round as to recall, in certain cases, a slightly sweet sensation, and that in some cases sweetness is really present because of a small quantity of residual sugar, have contributed to the equalization of organoleptic qualities in wines. Or, like to say, they contributed to the standardization of expectations consumers had towards every wine. As gustatory balance in wine is a fundamental factor for the definition of quality, by having pandered - although we should better say, influenced and controlled - the taste of consumers, this was the origin of real efforts of equilibrium both in vineyard as in wine making, in order to get roundness, concentration and power. It is then happened that, in case they wanted to be successful in marketing, grapes which have always made light but elegant wines - last but not the least - balanced, have been forced to go to the gymnasium and to build up strong muscles.

 Everything started, undoubtedly, from Merlot and barrique. Some tens of years ago, when worldwide wine quality was about to start its journey, every wine made from Merlot fermented or aged in barrique was successful, getting the full appreciation from wine critics, therefore the appreciation of consumers. Everything started when emerging wine making countries - in particular the United States of America - have tried to make wines by imitating the French style. They believed the secret of the French was Merlot and barrique - at those times, Bordeaux wines were the most common and appreciated ones - and therefore they tried to make wines by mainly using these two elements. This brought to the exaggeration of the model and to technological exasperation, a model which ended up to be considered as a reference, also because part of wine critics supported it, in particular American ones. France and other historical wine making countries, were, like to say, forced to follow and obey this new trend.


It is in red wines with an evident
roundness, in particular the ones made from Merlot and aged in barrique, where
the \emph{moelleux
It is in red wines with an evident roundness, in particular the ones made from Merlot and aged in barrique, where the moelleux

 According to an organoleptic point of view, a round wine is more immediate and direct than a wine having a more complex gustatory profile, where also astringency and acidity compete in the overall balance. There are many who support the idea this style of wine is successful because it recalls infantile gustatory sensations, therefore simple and reassuring. There are many who support this style of wine is usually preferred by beginner wine lovers, as its personality can give immediate and simple “organoleptic satisfactions” anyone can recognize. Both ideas are plausible: it is not by chance as one grows up in the personal sensorial tasting journey, one usually tends to like wines with a character distant from roundness, while looking for stronger qualities such as acidity, while however having elegance and, last but not the least, balance.

 This can be explained by the relation “expert” tasters have with wine. They do have little satisfaction in recognizing or discovering the sensations perceived from the glass; indeed, they try to analyze the wine while trying to perceive the least evident nuances, less immediate, the ones giving a wine character and personality. It should be said searching for nuances in a wine is getting more and more complex and difficult, also because of the undeniable technological equalization introduced both in vineyard and in wine making. The use of technology and tools available to anyone, has contributed to the spreading of a sensorial model virtually repeatable and usable everywhere. A good example is the use of selected yeast - giving the wine specific aromatic qualities, most of the times covering the character of grapes - as well as the use of cask and barrique, capable of giving the wine specific tannins and organoleptic, aromatic and gustatory elements, recognizable in thousands of wines.

 The race for roundness has also brought to the progressive increasing of alcohol in wines. Some tens of years ago, and this is was also the case of France, a wine with an alcohol by volume higher than 13% was considered an exception: the average volume generally was of 12.5%. The increasing of roundness in a wine requires a proper increasing of a contrasting element, in order to get balance. Roundness is generally balanced by acidity and astringency, although as roundness in grapes is also obtained with ripeness - a condition determining the decreasing of acidity - one must add tannins during the fermentation or aging process by using casks of strong impact, such as barrique. Moreover, in some grapes - such as Merlot - naturally characterized by a modest quantity of acidity and a good quantity of “round” elements, the aging in barrique seems to be almost mandatory.

 Roundness can also be obtained by using ripe grapes, a condition increasing the quantity of sugar, therefore - at the end of primary fermentation - it is produced a higher quantity of alcohol. Among the many roles played in the gustatory profile, alcohol contributes to increase the round character of a wine, therefore affecting balance. In other words, it is an endless race, as the increasing of an element requires a proper increase of one or more contrasting elements, in order to get balance. Also the production of extreme concentration, in order to make wines of deep colors and robust structures, even from the grapes generally having a low quantity of “solid” material, requires the exaltation of certain organoleptic characters or their correction in quantity. It is no secret that, when needed - or in order to get a specific result - during the wine making process it is possible to correct a wine by adding, legally, tartaric acid or glycerin, for example.

 Two important figures of the world of wine in the 1900s, ╔mile Peynaud and Jules Chauvet, besides setting the fundamental elements and development of modern wine making, have also defined the principles of modern sensorial wine tasting, by suggesting a method based on a scientific model, by explaining, among the other things, the concept of “roundness”. Concerning this aspect, we should also remember Jules Chauvet, besides having been a wine maker, expert chemist and wine taster of rare talent, more than any other else, he studied the importance of the tasting glass. His studies and researches allowed him to define the shape and dimension of the famous INAO glass, today commonly known as standard ISO tasting glass. In their books about sensorial wine tasting, both Peynaud and Chauvet used the term moelleux - a term now widely used in the world of wine - in order to define this kind of round wines.

 The term has however been cause of confusion, in particular because of the translation in other languages - in particular English - by giving this word, erroneously, the meaning of sweet, therefore associating the word to the presence of sugar. The term moelleux is used in France to specify a category of wine style, wines characterized by a medium sweetness, however when the term is used in sensorial wine tasting, it gets a quite different meaning. The term moelleux is defined in the famous French dictionary Larousse as «something being soft and elastic to the touch. Something having a round and velvety taste, sound or aspect, when referred to meat, it means tender meat. It is also said of a round and bodied wine». Larousse dictionary also informs us the etymology of moelleux comes from Latin medullosus, that is, “like marrow”, that is full of marrow, such as bones.

 In other words, when we talk about sensorial wine tasting, sweetness and sugar has nothing to do with the term moelleux. It is therefore defined as moelleux a wine having in the mouth a round, soft, smooth and velvety character. For the French, the moelleux character is fundamental for the balance of a wine, as it is the factor capable of balancing both acidity in white and red wines, as well as astringency of tannins in red wines. This recalls the concept of balance in wines - used still today in sensorial tasting - a concept which was defined by ╔mile Peynaud and Jules Chauvet. What is moelleux character in wines made of? All the qualities in which taste directly recall roundness and, then, a mildly sweet taste. Among the main components we find ethyl alcohol and the so called polyalcohols, such as glycerin.

 Alcohol, besides producing the well known burning effect, it basically has a slightly sweet taste and produces a tactile sensation recalling roundness. The sensation of roundness is also accentuated by other substances generally found in grapes - and therefore in the must - such as pectin, mucilage and gums. Among the other factors contributing to the increasing of “roundness” in wines, are also mentioned the fermentation and aging in cask - in particular the barrique - as well as the contact of wine with its lees and cells of yeast. All that brings to the “miracle” of the beloved moelleux character - responsible of the commercial success of oceans of wine in the 1990s - so dear to many wine lover, boring and dull to many others. Today, in fact, the preference of consumers seems to favor wines with a pretty modest moelleux character, with a finer and fresher personality, with a lively acidity.

 






 Editorial  Share this article     Summary of Wine Tasting column Events 
  Wine Tasting Issue 98, Summer 2011   
Moelleux: the Soft Roundness of WineMoelleux: the Soft Roundness of Wine Wines of the MonthWines of the Month  Contents 
Issue 97, June 2011 Follow DiWineTaste on Follow DiWineTaste on TwitterIssue 99, September 2011

Wines of the Month


 

Score legend

Fair    Pretty Good    Good
Very Good    Excellent
Wine that excels in its category Wine that excels in its category
Good value wine Good value wine
Prices are to be considered as indicative. Prices may vary according to the country
or the shop where wines are bought




Greco di Renabianca 2009, Terre Margaritelli (Umbria, Italy)
Greco di Renabianca 2009
Terre Margaritelli (Umbria, Italy)
Grapes: Grechetto
Price: € 9.90 Score: Wine that excels in its category
Greco di Renabianca shows a brilliant straw yellow color and nuances of straw yellow, very transparent. The nose denotes intense, clean, pleasing and refined aromas that start with hints of apple, plum and hazelnut followed by aromas of hawthorn, broom, honey and vanilla. The mouth has good correspondence to the nose, a crisp attack and however balanced by alcohol, good body, intense flavors, pleasing roundness. The finish is persistent with flavors of apple, plum and hazelnut. Greco di Renabianca ages for 2 months in barrique, one month in steel tanks and at least 3 months in bottle.
Food Match: Pasta and risotto with meat, Roasted white meat, Roasted fish, Mushroom soups



Malot 2008, Terre Margaritelli (Umbria, Italy)
Malot 2008
Terre Margaritelli (Umbria, Italy)
Grapes: Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot
Price: € 9.90 Score:
Malot shows an intense ruby red color and nuances of garnet red, little transparency. The nose denotes intense, clean, pleasing and refined aromas which start with hints of black cherry, plum and black currant followed by aromas of violet, vanilla, tobacco, peanut butter, chocolate and menthol. The mouth has good correspondence to the nose, a tannic attack and however balanced by alcohol, good body, intense flavors, pleasing roundness. The finish is persistent with flavors of black cherry, plum and black currant. Malot ages for 9 months in barrique followed by 3 months of aging in bottle.
Food Match: Roasted meat, Broiled meat and barbecue, Stewed meat with mushrooms



BatÓr 2008, Querciabella (Tuscany, Italy)
Batàr 2008
Querciabella (Tuscany, Italy)
Grapes: Pinot Blanc, Chardonnay
Price: € 49.00 Score: Wine that excels in its category
Batàr shows a brilliant golden yellow color and nuances of golden yellow, very transparent. The nose reveals intense, clean, pleasing, refined and elegant aromas that start with hints of apple, banana and plum followed by aromas of honey, vanilla, praline, hawthorn, pear, hazelnut, grapefruit and graphite. The mouth has good correspondence to the nose, a crisp attack and however balanced by alcohol, full body, intense flavors, pleasing roundness. The finish is persistent with flavors of banana, grapefruit and hazelnut. Batàr ferments and ages in barrique for about 12 months.
Food Match: Roasted fish, Stuffed pasta with mushrooms, Roasted white meat, Sauteed meat



Camartina 2007, Querciabella (Tuscany, Italy)
Camartina 2007
Querciabella (Tuscany, Italy)
Grapes: Cabernet Sauvignon (70%), Sangiovese (30%)
Price: € 79.00 Score:
Camartina shows an intense ruby red color and nuances of garnet red, little transparency. The nose reveals intense, clean, pleasing, refined and elegant aromas which start with hints of black cherry, black currant and violet followed by aromas of plum, blueberry, tobacco, vanilla, cocoa, cinnamon, mace, pink pepper, clover and eucalyptus. The mouth has excellent correspondence to the nose, a tannic attack and however balanced by alcohol, full body, intense flavors, agreeable. The finish is very persistent with long flavors of black cherry, black currant and plum. Camartina ages for 12 months in barrique.
Food Match: Game, Roasted meat, Stewed and braised meat, Hard cheese



Balbium 2009, Terre di Balbia (Calabria, Italy)
Balbium 2009
Terre di Balbia (Calabria, Italy)
Grapes: Magliocco Canino
Price: € 14.00 Score:
Balbium shows an intense ruby red color and nuances of ruby red, little transparency. The nose denotes intense, clean and pleasing aromas which start with hints of plum, blackberry and black cherry followed by aromas of blueberry, violet, vanilla and carob. The mouth has good correspondence to the nose, a slightly tannic attack and however balanced by alcohol, good body, intense flavors. The finish is persistent with flavors of plum, blackberry and black cherry. Balbium ages for 10 months in cask.
Food Match: Pasta with meat, Broiled meat and barbecue, Stewed meat with mushrooms



Masetto Dulcis 2008, Endrizzi (Trentino, Italy)
Masetto Dulcis 2008
Endrizzi (Trentino, Italy)
Grapes: Golden Muscat, Sauvignon Blanc, Riesling, Chardonnay, Gewürztraminer
Price: € 27.85 - 375ml Score: Wine that excels in its category
Masetto Dulcis shows a deep golden yellow color and nuances of golden yellow, transparent. The nose denotes intense, clean, pleasing and refined aromas that start with hints of grape, honey and citrus fruits peel followed by aromas of dried apricot, oregano, quince jam, lavender, almond, dried fig, almond and nail polish. The mouth has good correspondence to the nose, a sweet and round attack, however balanced by alcohol, good body, intense flavors, pleasing crispness. The finish is persistent with flavors of grape, honey and dried apricot. Masetto Dulcis is produced with dried grapes and ferments in cask.
Food Match: Confectionery, Hard and piquant cheese



Gran Masetto 2007, Endrizzi (Trentino, Italy)
Gran Masetto 2007
Endrizzi (Trentino, Italy)
Grapes: Teroldego
Price: € 47.50 Score:
Gran Masetto shows a deep ruby red color and nuances of garnet red, little transparency. The nose reveals intense, clean, pleasing, refined and elegant aromas which start with hints of blackberry, plum and dried violet followed by aromas of black cherry, blueberry, cinnamon, vanilla, chocolate, mace, dried rose, pink pepper, tobacco and menthol. The mouth has good correspondence to the nose, a tannic attack and however balanced by alcohol, full body, intense flavors, pleasing roundness. The finish is very persistent with long flavors of blackberry, plum and black cherry. Gran Masetto ages for 20 months in barrique followed by 6 months of aging in bottle.
Food Match: Game, Roasted meat, Braised meat, Hard cheese



Collio Malvasia 2010, Venica (Friuli Venezia Giulia, Italy)
Collio Malvasia 2010
Venica (Friuli Venezia Giulia, Italy)
Grapes: Malvasia Istriana
Price: € 16.00 Score:
Collio Malvasia shows an intense straw yellow color and nuances of straw yellow, very transparent. The nose reveals intense, clean, pleasing and refined aromas which start with hints of apple, hazelnut and apricot followed by aromas of banana, citrus fruit, hawthorn, broom, pear and praline. The mouth has good correspondence to the nose, a crisp attack and however balanced by alcohol, good body, intense flavors, pleasing roundness. The finish is persistent with flavors of apple, apricot and hazelnut. A part of Collio Malvasia ages for 5 months in cask.
Food Match: Pasta and risotto with fish, Sauteed fish, Broiled crustaceans



Collio Sauvignon Ronco delle Mele 2010, Venica (Friuli Venezia Giulia, Italy)
Collio Sauvignon Ronco delle Mele 2010
Venica (Friuli Venezia Giulia, Italy)
Grapes: Sauvignon Blanc
Price: € 26.00 Score:
Collio Sauvignon Ronco delle Mele shows an intense greenish yellow color and nuances of greenish yellow, very transparent. The nose reveals intense, clean, pleasing and refined aromas which start with hints of peach, elder and passion fruit followed by aromas of nettle, pear, grapefruit, bell pepper, hawthorn, apple and mineral. The mouth has good correspondence to the nose, a crisp attack and however balanced by alcohol, good body, intense flavors, pleasing roundness. The finish is persistent with flavors of peach, passion fruit and apple. A small part of Collio Sauvignon Ronco delle Mele ages in cask.
Food Match: Broiled crustaceans, Pasta and risotto with fish and crustaceans, Crustacean soups






 Editorial  Share this article     Summary of Wine Tasting column Events 
  Wine Tasting Issue 98, Summer 2011   
Moelleux: the Soft Roundness of WineMoelleux: the Soft Roundness of Wine Wines of the MonthWines of the Month  Contents 
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