Monday, 19 January 2009

The definition of a "well balanced wine"

I came across the concept of 'balance' this weekend whilst reading Jancis Robinson's Wine Tasting Workbook, and found that I could immediately relate to the idea that:

"A wine is well balanced if all its components blend into the whole with
none standing out [and that]... All good wines should be balanced by the time
they are ready to drink."
I like the idea of a wine being ready to drink when it is in balance (or 'harmonious') regardless of its age or cost. This gives me a good benchmark when drawing conclusions on the quality of a wine. And lo, what do I find this evening when I crack the red open but...

The Wine Society £6.95 (tasted right now!)
Natural cork closer.

This red bordeaux of 90% merlot and 10% cabernet franc has a clear, deep ruby red colour. The clean nose quickly fills the glass with intense back and red fruit aromas giving a plummy fullness. Its low acidity and medium-soft tannins adds the raspberry theme of the cabernet franc to the merlot nose. It finishes with an easy length to a well structured wine in perfect balance.

This is an excellent claret.

Other facts about the wine from the WS tasting notes which you may find interesting include:

"The wines of Fronsac situated between Cotes de Bourg and Pomerol have the
same structure and body of the former with the perfume and roundness of the
latter. Chante Alouette, owned by Bernard Roux, is planted with 90% merlot and
10% cabernet franc on a clay/chalk slope above the river Isle. The [river] Isle
marks the outer limit of Fronsac, separating it from Pomerol."

Toot toot!


  1. Chris,

    Whilst the idea of balance is praised, sometimes an unblanaced wine is perfect. Think of bone dry champagne laced with fizz and acidity. Can it be called balanced, given the dominance of acidity. Still it is potentially beautiful.

    Just as some people can be unhinged and unbalanced, sometimes great wine and occassion demands 'unsteadiness'

  2. Edward,

    My argument is that by considering the overall balance of a wine after tasting it, one can better consider if a wine is ready for drinking regardless of its age or price. A different way of describing the same concept is 'harmony'.

    If we use this music analogy, a piece of music (be it a symphony or jazz) can have discordant harmonies and syncopated beats but, if the composer or conductor is in control, the overall composition should be both beautiful and balanced.

  3. Chris,

    I like the musical analogy. I was thinking about balance in terms of steadiness and being rooted. Balance suggests firm foundations and being sure footed. A wine with lovely proportions etc. Hence my suggestions that sometimes (especially when we wish to celebrate and get giddy with joy) we need wines that have unbalanced and discordant beauty.

  4. Edward, I think we are in agreement albeit syncopated!

    Have a great weekend.

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