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 Editorial  Share this article     Summary of Wine Tasting column Events 
  Wine Tasting Issue 119, June 2013   
The Importance of FaultsThe Importance of Faults Wines of the MonthWines of the Month  Contents 
Issue 118, May 2013 Follow DiWineTaste on Follow DiWineTaste on TwitterIssue 120, Summer 2013

The Importance of Faults

Wine faults are sometimes neglected, even ignored for the fact one is not capable of recognizing them, they are however very important for the definition of quality

 The quality of a wine, every wine, is determined according to the quantity and nature of its faults. The higher the quantity of faults, the lower the quality. From a purely technical point of view, wine reaches perfection in case it does not have any fault, of any type, of any nature or kind. This condition, of course utopian, not only can be hardly achieved, but it would also be boring from a sensorial and organoleptic point of view. of course, it is not perfection to make beauty: indeed it is harmony and balance of every element and how they are related one to each other, considered as a whole. In order to simplify this concept, we should consider, for example, a red wine aged in cask. One of the main functions of this wood container, as it is commonly known, is to favor the oxidation of wine, a condition useful for its evolution.


 

 The phenomenon of oxidation, as everyone knows, is generally considered in most of the cases and in most of wines as a fault, however in case this phenomenon occurs slowly and with a minimal and controlled oxidizing impact, it is capable of improving some olfactory and gustatory aspects of a wine. In this specific case, in fact, it is the quantity and nature of the oxidizing effects to classify the phenomenon as a good quality or a fault. Another example of the quantitative influence of a phenomenon which can determine quality is the effect of Botrytis Cinerea, the so called noble rot. In proper conditions, when it is prevented the excessive development of this mold, sweet wines can get a remarkable organoleptic benefit, both in taste and in aromas. In case this mold is excessively developed, grapes would rot therefore compromising not only their quality but also the enological result.

 What is universally considered as a fault in certain wines, such as oxidation, in other it can be considered a good quality as well as a main and identifying characteristic, as in case of Marsala and Jerez or Sherry. If it is true there are some faults which can be considered negligible in function of wine style, most of them are considered as such by many and in most of cases compromise wine quality. Or at least they should be considered, in general terms, as faults. The capacity of recognizing faults in a wine is one of the main factors distinguishing real technical taster from simple wine lovers who sometimes claim to be experts in this discipline. Moreover, if we consider the role of personal taste - an absolutely subjective expression, fruit of psychological, social and cultural conditions - a fault can also be considered as a good quality, an element improving quality.

 In the practice of professional tasting, faults play a role of primary importance, and in function of their presence, they are considered very important elements in determining quality. For this reason, in professional tasting, the evaluation of faults of every single phase of tasting - appearance, olfactory and gustatory - is done before the evaluation of positive qualities. Faults are the first elements on which the taster pays his or her attention during the evaluation of a wine: only after having assessed any possible presence of faults and their nature, he or she proceeds with the analysis of positive elements. This approach is easily justified - besides being an agreeable principle - by the fact a quality wine is, first of all, a wine having the least possible number of faults. Or, at least, having a quantity and nature of faults affecting the quality of wine in the least possible amount.


A yellow amber color is the sign
of oxidation in white wines
A yellow amber color is the sign of oxidation in white wines

 Wine making technology has certainly contributed in a significant way to the production of better quality wines, allowing every producer both prevention as well as a cure for certain faults in wine, once being very frequent. If it is true today most of the wines have a quantity of faults lesser than, for example, of those made twenty years ago, it is also true today it is seen an excess of prevention, something which can be found in the quantity of products used for correcting and stabilizing wines, in a quantity to represent themselves a fault. We can consider, for example - and this is just one of the many we could provide - an excessive use of sulfur dioxide, an element useful for the stabilization of wine and the prevention of certain faults, but it is also capable of evidently affecting the olfactory profile of a wine with its characteristic acrid smell. As a fault is a negative factor for the qualitative integrity of a wine, also an excess should be considered a fault.

 Maybe it is because of an excess of prevention or correction, maybe wine making technique and certain viticultural practices had an excessive impact on the organoleptic profile of wines, today it seems to happen an evident change of qualitative parameters. Whether in the past the minimum hints of oxidation in a wine - white or red, with no exception - as well as hints of the contamination of acetic bacteria, would have classified that wine as “ordinary” and produced in a disputable way, today, these faults seem to find the appreciation of many wine lovers. The predilection for organoleptic quality associated to the effects of oxidation or to the excess of volatile acidity can certainly meet the favor of wine lover who consider them as pleasing and positive qualities, however - according to a purely technical point of view - they are and remain faults. Also the presence of other serious faults can meet the appreciation of some consumers, frequently associated to sure signs of wine genuineness.

 A significant example, in this sense, is the perception of olfactory sensations associated to the effect of brettanomyces yeast, capable of characterizing wines with its quite unpleasing smell. The typical olfactory sensations developing because of the presence of brettanomyces usually recall the smells of horse sweat or wet dog, sensations which not all are capable of recognizing because of their personal olfactory threshold. When present in small quantity, some smells - such as the ones produced by brettanomyces - can be mixed up with the overall olfactory profile of a wine and therefore completely unnoticed. Faults in a wine can in fact be pretty insidious, in particular when the taster mainly focuses his or her attention - almost exclusively - to the evaluation of positive qualities while completely neglecting the preliminary phase of fault analysis.

 There are smells that, undoubtedly, are considered serious faults by everyone, faults that, unequivocally, bring the wine to be rejected. One of them is the so called cork taint, caused by the sadly famous 2,4,6-trichloroanisole, TCA in short, a substance developing in presence of the Armillaria Mellea, a parasite fungus of cork oak tree. The smell of cork taint is not simple to describe, however it becomes unmistakable after having perceived for the first time. Quite similar to the smells produced by wet cardboard, mold, wet dog and humid cellar, the smell of cork taint is frequently mentioned by pseudo experts, who at the presence of any “suspicious” fault, they identify it with this smell. Sometimes confused with the olfactory qualities given to the wine by an excessive use of cask or other fault associated to molds, cork taint is sometimes confused with reduction fault, of completely different nature.

 The identification of faults is a complex practice, certainly more difficult than identifying positive qualities of a wine. We mentioned, for example, the faults caused by reduction and brettanomyces - and the same consideration is valid for cork taint - which smells are easily recognized both by using the proper olfactory and gustatory analysis technique, as well as thanks to the important role of experience. It is impossible, in fact, to identify a fault - likewise, a positive quality - in case one does not know that specific smell. After all, you can recognize what you already know only. The same consideration, like already said, is true for positive qualities of a wine: it will be impossible to identify, for example, the pleasing aromas of lychee in case one does not know this fruit and its characteristic aromas. Likewise, the same is true for any other aromas, either a fault or a positive quality.

 The positive organoleptic qualities - in general terms - are however easier to identify, also thanks to the analogy used during the evaluation of organoleptic quality of a wine, as the association with elements and substances is more familiar than those associated to faults. Moreover, the lesser presence and influence of faults in modern wines, have brought the taster - more frequently, the wine lover - to ignore this aspect, while trusting the quality of a wine, frequently ensured by the better quality technological wine making progress introduced in wineries. Like already said, progress made in wine making, has allowed a wider spreading and availability of techniques and products useful to the improvement of wines. This also brought a remarkable reduction of the quantity of faults, by encouraging wines to be considered, from an organoleptic point of view, a beverage mainly made from positive qualities while neglecting any possible presence of faults.

 The excess of certain wine making techniques, also of corrective and preservative nature - to be however considered as faults - get a higher attention than real faults. From a sensorial point of view, an olfactory and gustatory stimulus can be easily identified when it is evidently present, with an intensity such to be dominant. Also a fault, when it reaches an intensity such to be dominant, can be easily identified, although not really identifiable, however enough in order to realize in the overall organoleptic profile of a wine there is an “extraneous” element. The difficulty of identifying faults is not in fact represented by the capability of knowing and recognizing them only: most of the times intensity is not stronger than other organoleptic sensations, therefore they pass unnoticed because a taster pays higher attention on the rest.

 For this reason, it is very important to pay attention on faults before analyzing the positive qualities of a wine. During the first smells, the level of sensorial inurement is practically absent, therefore the nose is in a quite “uncontaminated” condition which will favor the perception of faults. This capability decreases with the subsequent smells and, last but not the least, also the olfactory intensity of faults will tend to fade with time, both because of a lesser sensitivity of the nose, as well as for the effect of oxygen which could disperse the volatile components of the fault. As an example, we can conduct this experiment: take a wine affected by cork taint and do a preliminary smell. Cork taint will be pretty evident and intense, probably dominating all the other aromas. Proceed with more smells: cork taint, although still present, will seem to fade its strength. Now energetically swirl the glass, in order to favor a strong oxygenation of the wine, therefore, smell it again: cork taint will seem to have an even lower intensity, however present, than the other aromas.

 






 Editorial  Share this article     Summary of Wine Tasting column Events 
  Wine Tasting Issue 119, June 2013   
The Importance of FaultsThe Importance of Faults Wines of the MonthWines of the Month  Contents 
Issue 118, May 2013 Follow DiWineTaste on Follow DiWineTaste on TwitterIssue 120, Summer 2013

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




Erice Rosso Riserva Pietra Sacra 2006, Fazio (Sicily, Italy)
Erice Rosso Riserva Pietra Sacra 2006
Fazio (Sicily, Italy)
Grapes: Nero d'Avola
Price: € 25.00 Score:
Erice Rosso Riserva Pietra Sacra 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 plum, blackberry and black cherry followed by aromas of blueberry, dried violet, vanilla, tobacco, cocoa, mace and menthol. The mouth has good correspondence to the nose, a properly tannic attack and however balanced by alcohol, good body, intense flavors, pleasing roundness. The finish is persistent with flavors of plum, blackberry and black cherry. Erice Rosso Riserva Pietra Sacra ages for 24 months in barrique.
Food Match: Roasted meat, Stewed and braised meat, Hard cheese



Erice Vendemmia Tardiva Zibibbo Ky 2009, Fazio (Sicily, Italy)
Erice Vendemmia Tardiva Zibibbo Ky 2009
Fazio (Sicily, Italy)
Grapes: Muscat of Alexandria
Price: € 16.50 - 500ml Score:
Erice Vendemmia Tardiva Zibibbo Ky shows a golden yellow color and nuances of golden yellow, transparent. The nose denotes intense, clean, pleasing and refined aromas which start with hints of raisin, dried fig and honey followed by aromas of dried apricot, peach jam, apple jam, citrus fruit peel, lychee, candied fruits and date. 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 raisin, dried fig and honey. Erice Vendemmia Tardiva Zibibbo Ky ages in steel tanks.
Food Match: Dried fruit tarts, Confectionery



Vernaccia di San Gimignano Vigna del Sole 2011, Pietraserena (Tuscany, Italy)
Vernaccia di San Gimignano Vigna del Sole 2011
Pietraserena (Tuscany, Italy)
Grapes: Vernaccia di San Gimignano
Price: € 11.00 Score: Wine that excels in its category
Vernaccia di San Gimignano Vigna del Sole 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 almond followed by aromas of peach, hawthorn, broom and pineapple. The mouth has good correspondence to the nose, a crisp attack and however balanced by alcohol, good body, intense flavors, agreeable. The finish is persistent with flavors of apple, plum and almond. Vernaccia di San Gimignano Vigna del Sole ages in steel tanks.
Food Match: Pasta with fish and crustaceans, Sauteed fish, Sauteed white meat



Chianti Colli Senesi Caulio 2009, Pietraserena (Tuscany, Italy)
Chianti Colli Senesi Caulio 2009
Pietraserena (Tuscany, Italy)
Grapes: Sangiovese (90%), Malvasia Nera (5%), Syrah (5%)
Price: € 16.00 Score: Wine that excels in its category
Chianti Colli Senesi Caulio shows an intense ruby red color and nuances of garnet red, moderate transparency. The nose denotes intense, clean, pleasing and refined aromas which start with hints of plum, black cherry and dried violet followed by aromas of blueberry, vanilla, tobacco, chocolate and mace. The mouth has good correspondence to the nose, a properly tannic attack and however balanced by alcohol, good body, intense flavors, pleasing roundness. The finish is persistent with flavors of plum, black cherry and blueberry. Chianti Colli Senesi Caulio ages for 12 months in cask and barrique followed by 6 months of aging in bottle.
Food Match: Broiled meat and barbecue, Roasted meat, Stewed meat, Cheese



Morellino di Scansano Riserva 2010, Moris Farms (Tuscany, Italy)
Morellino di Scansano Riserva 2010
Moris Farms (Tuscany, Italy)
Grapes: Sangiovese (90%), Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon (10%)
Price: € 18.00 Score:
This Morellino di Scansano Riserva shows an intense ruby red color and nuances of ruby red, little transparency. The nose denotes intense, clean, pleasing and refined aromas that start with hints of black cherry, blackberry and plum followed by aromas of violet, blueberry, vanilla, black currant, chocolate, cinnamon and menthol. The mouth has good correspondence to the nose, a properly tannic attack and however balanced by alcohol, good body, intense flavors, agreeable. The finish is persistent with flavors of black cherry, plum and blackberry. This Morellino di Scansano Riserva ages for 12 months in barrique.
Food Match: Broiled meat and barbecue, Roasted meat, Stewed and braised meat, Hard cheese



Monteregio di Massa Marittima Rosso 2010, Moris Farms (Tuscany, Italy)
Monteregio di Massa Marittima Rosso 2010
Moris Farms (Tuscany, Italy)
Grapes: Sangiovese (90%), Cabernet Sauvignon (10%)
Price: € 12.50 Score:
Monteregio di Massa Marittima Rosso shows an intense ruby red color and nuances of ruby red, little transparency. The nose reveals intense, clean, pleasing and refined aromas which start with hints of black cherry, plum and black currant followed by aromas of blueberry, violet, blackberry, vanilla, chocolate, cinnamon and menthol. The mouth has good correspondence to the nose, a properly 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. Monteregio di Massa Marittima Rosso ages for 12 months in barrique.
Food Match: Roasted meat, Stewed and braised meat with mushrooms, Hard cheese



Montefalco Sagrantino 2009, Bocale (Umbria, Italy)
Montefalco Sagrantino 2009
Bocale (Umbria, Italy)
Grapes: Sagrantino
Price: € 19.00 Score:
This Montefalco Sagrantino shows an intense ruby red color and nuances of garnet red, little transparency. The nose denotes intense, clean, pleasing and refined aromas that start with hints of blackberry, plum and violet followed by aromas of black cherry, blueberry, vanilla, chocolate, pink pepper, mace and tobacco. The mouth has good correspondence to the nose, a tannic attack and however balanced by alcohol, full body, intense flavors, agreeable. The finish is persistent with flavors of blackberry, plum and black cherry. This Montefalco Sagrantino ages in cask and barrique for 18 months.
Food Match: Game, Roasted meat, Stewed and braised meat, Hard cheese



Montefalco Sagrantino Passito 2009, Bocale (Umbria, Italy)
Montefalco Sagrantino Passito 2009
Bocale (Umbria, Italy)
Grapes: Sagrantino
Price: € 17.00 - 375ml Score:
This Montefalco Sagrantino Passito shows an intense ruby red color and nuances of ruby red, little transparency. The nose reveals intense, clean, pleasing and refined aromas that start with hints of blackberry, plum and dried violet followed by aromas of black cherry, blueberry, vanilla, chocolate, mace and menthol. The mouth has good correspondence to the nose, a tannic and sweet attack, however balanced by alcohol, full body, intense flavors, pleasing roundness. The finish is persistent with flavors of blackberry, black cherry and plum. This Montefalco Sagrantino Passito ages for 24 months in barrique.
Food Match: Dried fruit desserts, Hard cheese



Rosso di Montalcino 2010, La Fornace (Tuscany, Italy)
Rosso di Montalcino 2010
La Fornace (Tuscany, Italy)
Grapes: Sangiovese
Price: € 13.00 Score:
This Rosso di Montalcino shows a brilliant ruby red color and nuances of ruby red, moderate transparency. The nose denotes intense, clean, pleasing and refined aromas which start with hints of black cherry, plum and raspberry followed by aromas of violet, blackberry, blueberry, vanilla, tobacco, chocolate and menthol. The mouth has good correspondence to the nose, a properly tannic attack and however balanced by alcohol, good body, intense flavors, pleasing crispness. The finish is persistent with flavors of black cherry, plum and raspberry. This Rosso di Montalcino ages for 13 months in cask.
Food Match: Roasted meat, Broiled meat and barbecue, Braised and stewed meat, Hard cheese



Brunello di Montalcino Riserva 2007, La Fornace (Tuscany, Italy)
Brunello di Montalcino Riserva 2007
La Fornace (Tuscany, Italy)
Grapes: Sangiovese
Price: € 50.00 Score: Wine that excels in its category
Brunello di Montalcino Riserva 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 plum, black cherry and dried violet followed by aromas of blueberry, blackberry, vanilla, tobacco, chocolate, cinnamon, mace and menthol. The mouth has good correspondence to the nose, a properly tannic attack and however balanced by alcohol, full body, intense flavors, pleasing crispness. The finish is persistent with flavors of plum, black cherry and blueberry. Brunello di Montalcino Riserva ages in barrique for 48 months.
Food Match: Game, Roasted meat, Braised and stewed meat, Hard cheese



Barolo Villero 2008, Giacomo Fenocchio (Piedmont, Italy)
Barolo Villero 2008
Giacomo Fenocchio (Piedmont, Italy)
Grapes: Nebbiolo
Price: € 36.30 Score: Wine that excels in its category
Barolo Villero shows a brilliant ruby red color and nuances of garnet red, moderate transparency. The nose reveals intense, clean, pleasing, refined and elegant aromas which start with hints of cherry, plum and violet followed by aromas of raspberry, vanilla, rose, tobacco, mace, cocoa, cinnamon, anise and menthol. The mouth has good correspondence to the nose, a tannic attack and however balanced by alcohol, full body, intense flavors, pleasing crispness. The finish is persistent with flavors of cherry, plum and raspberry. Barolo Villero ages for 6 months in steel tanks and for 30 months in cask.
Food Match: Game, Roasted meat, Stewed and braised meat, Hard cheese



Barolo Bussia 2008, Giacomo Fenocchio (Piedmont, Italy)
Barolo Bussia 2008
Giacomo Fenocchio (Piedmont, Italy)
Grapes: Nebbiolo
Price: € 36.30 Score:
Barolo Bussia shows a brilliant ruby red color and nuances of garnet red, moderate transparency. The nose reveals intense, clean, pleasing, refined and elegant aromas which start with hints of cherry, plum and dried violet followed by aromas of raspberry, rose, blueberry, vanilla, tobacco, pink pepper, chocolate, cinnamon, mace and menthol. The mouth has good correspondence to the nose, a tannic attack and however balanced by alcohol, full body, intense flavors, pleasing crispness. The finish is very persistent with long flavors of cherry, plum and raspberry. Barolo Bussia ages for 6 months in steel tanks and for 30 months in cask.
Food Match: Game, Roasted meat, Stewed and braised meat with mushrooms, Hard cheese






 Editorial  Share this article     Summary of Wine Tasting column Events 
  Wine Tasting Issue 119, June 2013   
The Importance of FaultsThe Importance of Faults Wines of the MonthWines of the Month  Contents 
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