This narrow, cool slice of Napa engenders the dramatic flavors found in Kongsgaard wines - an intense sensation of preserved lemon and gunflint, and what Alex describes as a figgy character.I asked on Twitter, "Does anyone know what gunflint tastes like?" Sorry Jon, but I suppose I was mocking you, though obliquely and anonymously. I was surprised to learn that not only do some wine professionals claim to know what gunflint tastes like, they expected me to also.
Here's my favorite:
He wasn't alone.
My friend Jason Smith, a MS with one of the highest-profile sommelier jobs in America (head of wine at the Bellagio in Las Vegas), helpfully replied, "It's in Chablis and other very mineral, probably unoaked wines." I'm assuming Jason knows this because it's how sommeliers are taught to express a specific shared taste experience.
However, I'm going to guess that nobody alive in the United States today has actually tasted gunflint. From Merriam-Webster.com, the only definition of gunflint is "a small sharp flint fashioned to ignite the priming in a flintlock." And what's a flintlock? You need to see it:
I can't dispute that some Chardonnays may not only smell, but taste like a small implement in a type of weapon that hasn't been used in a century. That may be where the reference came from initially; perhaps it stayed in the wine vocabulary despite disappearing from our lives. Heck, Chardonnay might taste like any number of plants that are extinct, or minerals that could be extracted from the surface of the moon.
It's the shared language of wine I find interesting; it's like a shared taste hallucination. British wine writers frequently taste "pear drop" in wine, and I have no idea what that means. The wine geek community could decide to describe that "gunflint" taste sensation as "moon rock," and if enough people agreed, that would be the definition.
I was telling this story to food blogger Amy Sherman, and she laughed: bewildering tasting notes are a shared source of humor. She said, "I recently saw somebody describe something as having dried rose petals. Dried rose petals!" And I said, "I know exactly what that smells like."
What's your favorite incomprehensible tasting note?