Crap Tasting Note of the Year: Most Pretentious

Pic: Rob 'Byron' Johnson

Remember when you were 16 and wanted to appear Deep And Intellectual?

When you regularly came up with observations and apercus that would make the drones and drudges marvel at your originality?

When staring meaningfully into space in poetic fashion seemed like a Good Thing?

Well, this is what happens if you don’t grow out of it.

There are elements of all of these notes that work. Fake Booze is not too curmudgeonly to recognise that a bit of imagery or creativity can lift a note. But often, good elements are spoiled by a phrase or a few words that show you that the writer is far more in love with their own writing than they are with telling you about the actual wine.

Pretentiousness is like a drug. Come up with one phrase you like and you want another. A better one. A more ambitious one. Maybe with some alliteration thrown in.

Before long you’re freebasing TS Eliot.

The result: verbiage that keeps coming at you in non-stop waves. It’s like being battered by rampaging armies of similes and metaphors, scurrying phrases grinning at you from under their helmets like angry careworn ants. Reading them is as chilling, intoxicating and baffling as crawling up a cold mountain stream dragging a caravan behind you made of marshmallow.

See? Easy to slip into. We can guarantee we enjoyed writing that last paragraph far more than you enjoyed reading it.

And THAT, dear readers, is what we think lies at the heart of a truly pretentious note.

Our friend @wineman147 (yes, that’s him) has created a superb video to go with our winner in this category. It’s only viewable by Fake Booze supporters, so for those of you who are too tight to pay us £4 a month via Patreon, you’ll have to make do with this picture of what you’re missing.

Most Pretentious Tasting Note of the Year

‘The colour of the Rare Millésime Rosé 2008 is as delicate as the petals of traditional roses. Bluish, coppery glints merge together to give rise to a subtle nuance of rose quartz. Graceful bubbles revolve gently upwards in the glass like a string of pearls.  The initial nose evokes the fragrance of spring flowers, confirming the promise offered to the eye.

‘This extremely fragrant elegance quickly increases in texture and complexity. Notes of mandarin, lychee and verbena alternate with a luscious touch of elderberry, the plushness of sweet almond and the brilliance of peonies. Dark fruit, still crisp, just off the vine – black currants, blueberries, cranberries – add depth to the aromatic range. Evidence of a vintage boasting remarkable potential with a nose that is enveloping without being aggressive or heavy.

‘Following an initial attack that is both refined and generous, the velvety texture gradually develops, combining minerality and delicacy. At the outset, the ebullient vitality of dark and red fruit (currant, cranberry, wild raspberry), laced with tonic citrus fruit, emerges in incredible detail. After enveloping the palate with its vibrancy, the aromas express smoked notes along with star anise and violets.

‘The grace almost resembles that of the poppy, a delicate flower which is beautiful to look at but loses its natural beauty when plucked from the ground. The mineral tension then returns, framed in triumphant elegance. A hint of vanilla emerges, as subtle as the caress of silk, as light as foam. It expresses itself with subtle decisiveness. The strength of its delicacy is rooted in a potential for excellent longevity.

‘What if spring were eternal?’

Régis Camus, talking about Champagne Rare Rosé Champagne 2008

We have a lot of respect for Régis Camus. He is a wonderful winemaker. But we hope that he didn’t really write this. If he did, he should stick to the cellar and leave the quill and parchment alone.

We’re sure you will all have your own favourite parts of what we can only describe as a prose poem in the medium of bollocks.

Personally, we thoroughly enjoyed the bubbles that revolve like a string of pearls (eh?) and the bit where the nose steals promises initially made to the eye (bad nose, bad!). But this is low-level poetic excitement compared to what Régis has up his sleeve towards the end where this note puts on a sprint finish of poetic drivel that leaves the competition for dead.

The excitement of fruit that envelopes the palate with its vibrancy (yes, that is exciting) leads inexplicably to melancholic reflections on the tragic fate of the poppy. It’s an emotional yin/yang that’s as unexpected as it is irrelevant.

What next? ‘Bright tropical fruit – but consider the tragedy of the snails – they crush so easily’?

Fortunately, the mineral tension is there to save the day with its signature ‘triumphal elegance’. Let’s face it, we’ve all known mineral tension like that, haven’t we?

OK, the ‘vanilla as lingerie’ bit is slightly weird. But we can forgive anything for the last line. 

‘What if spring were eternal?’ is absolute 100-Parker Points genius. It’s 16-year-old Regis staring out over his pupitres, trying to impress a girl who may or may not be wearing underwear made of vanilla.

From now on Fake Booze would like to suggest that every tasting note MUST finish with a random reflection on the universe.

Can foxes hear music? Are trees happy? Does rose quartz belong more to the eye or the nose?

‘Smoky blueberry, wild rose, crushed mulberry. Sun-baked strawberry, pine tar, red cherry pit. An impressively complex and concentrated procession of huckleberry preserves. Crunchy blackberry and cranberry liqueur swaggers with fierce and feral intensity as notes of sagebrush, rosemary, thyme and tobacco impart intricate layers of complex herbal depth… Impressions of hot rocks, iron and basalt reveal streaks of deeply stony minerality, further enhanced in ruggedness by intriguing suggestions of smoke, ash and red meat. Marvellously angsty, brooding and serious on both the nose and the palate… expressing a brilliant combination of nuance and power; exhibiting a bold and muscular yet edgy presentation that flawlessly toes the line between beauty and brawn.’  

Winery reflections, Instagram, talking about River Rock Vineyard Grenache 2018, Pasxa Wines, Walla Walla Valley

This is nearly a really good note, we think. Proving only that the dividing line between genius and maniac is wafer thin.

There are just areas where this note totally disappears up its own fundament. Does blackberry and cranberry liqueur really ‘swagger with fierce and feral intensity?’ I mean, does it? We’d have it down more as a sashaying kind of liquid.

And feral? Feral? We thought cranberries had been domesticated for centuries. Maybe it’s the bad boy blackberries leading them astray.

And who ordered the ‘concentrated procession of huckleberry preserves’? It sounds like a parade of hedgerow fruit power in honour of Kim Jong Un.

But wait! Add in the ‘smoke, ash and red meat’ bit and suddenly we’re not in Pyongyang any more Toto. We’re back in a suburban garden where a complete idiot is attempting to cook jam and bacon on the same barbecue.

‘Bold and muscular yet also edgy’ we get. This wine is a brooding beefcake. Brando-like. A bit dangerous. Heart of gold deep down, but tragically flawed. Like this note.

But hold on a minute. What’s this? It also ‘toes the line between beauty and brawn’? So where are we now? Nicholas Cage after having some work done? Piers Brosnan with a hangover? We don’t understand any more. It’s an image too far.

So we now have the scenario of an indeterminate Hollywood actor searing raw meat and feral jam over an open fire while huckleberries march past and salute. Our brain hurts.

‘I shall never really know how this turns out for my gourmandize. I hope that I might have been the one on Earth to enjoy this the most. I can imagine a scale of judgement of the character of a person while passing through this earthly existence, that this scale represents the essence of one’s character by how thoroughly one enjoyed this cuvée. Silly as this thought experiment may seem, I don’t think I’m completely too far from how this world might actually operate from the perspective of Dionysus. Full stop. I don’t expect anyone reading this, to truly get at what I’m hinting. But if this strikes a chord in your soul, then please reach out…’

Mystery contributor bemoaning their last bottle from a case of Cornas

We would love to know who wrote this. Specifically so we can avoid them.

Sadly the person who submitted it didn’t tell us and we forgot to ask. So there is a vague possibility that we might run into them one day. In which case we won’t be responsible for our actions.

The writer admits that they don’t expect anyone to understand what they’re saying. Which entirely begs the question of why the fuck they’re writing it.

But we can all enjoy this anyway. The sheer existential angst at having – let’s be frank here – JUST FINISHED A BOTTLE OF BLEEDIN’ WINE is hilarious. It’s not a tasting note, admittedly, but as an example of sustained self-indulgent whingeing it’s hard to beat.

Bertie want more chocolate mummy. Well, guess what? You can’t have it until you pick up all the self-indulgent crap from your blogroom.

Fake Booze wonders now, whether bemoaning the end of a bottle of booze could be an entire new writing form. Sturm und Drink, perhaps.

We believe the judges speak for all of us in saying that we couldn’t give a shit how it ‘turns out for their gourmandize’ while they ‘pass through this earthly existence’, particularly not ‘from the perspective of Dionysus’. And don’t get us started on the ‘Full stop.’

We are not so stony hearted that we wouldn’t ‘reach out’ to the writer in their moment of anguish.

But it would only be to push their head back under as they drowned in their own pomposity.

‘A touch of sweet green pepper like a Cubanelle; a touch of lavender and lemon soap. Fragrant, gauzy top notes floating over a taut wire of stones and citrus pulled over cold, wet mountain stones. And then green pineapple and lime bonbon over cooked cream and mango coulis.’ 16.5/20

Tamlyn Currin on Jancis Robinson’s Purple pages, talking about Reyneke Sauvignon Blanc 2019

We almost quite like this. Certainly, it’s the weakest of our shortlisted contenders – but there were just enough elements of pretentiousness for it to sneak in. Well done Tamlyn!

As one of our judges pointed out, you could have described this wine with five words ‘smells like a Lush shop’. But where’s the fun in that?

Specifying the sweet green pepper is certainly getting on for pompous, if not outright pretentious, as is merging the lavender and lemon aromas into a highbrow soap. Hmm. We think we know the kind of places where you do your shopping – and they’re not where we go. Oh no.

But the really pretentious bit is that second sentence. First of all, what is a taut wire of stones? And how would you make it? You’d need a really good drill.

And why thread on citrus as well? Is it some odd fruit and rock jewellery? A kebab?

Ah no. Apparently not. Turns out it’s a weird kind of toy. Because having made your stone and citrus fruit necklace you should then proceed to drag it over yet more stones.

Ideally cold, wet ones.

On a mountain.

This doesn’t seem like normal behaviour. Maybe the broadband isn’t too good where the writer lives. Or the TV isn’t up to much. Perhaps they’ve suffered a brain freeze after inexplicably mashing a pineapple and lime bonbon into their cream and mango coulis.

Either way, our advice would be to cut back unnecessary expenditure such as lavender and lemon soap and take out a Sky subscription instead. Then they won’t need to schlep over the hills trailing home-made fruit-and-rock strings behind them.

Click here for the results of the They Said What? category; here for Fruit Salad (aka Crimes Against Language); and here for Most Sexist.

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