Barret Pearson

Barret Pearson

Barret is a wine enthusiast and proud Vancouverite. Barret currently works as a service specialist at a wine store downtown, and divides his spare time between books, art, and travel.

By Barret Pearson April 8, 2015 Comments Off on Drinking Without Bias – Chardonnay

A few weeks ago I had a fellow come to the wine store I work at and asked me to suggest a few good Chardonnays. He had an interesting idea, and had decided to host a little blind tasting for his friends. He mentioned that he’d done the same sort of thing before, and had found some interesting results.

Wine is an incredibly broad field; the variety of different styles and variations are astonishingly great. When you are just beginning to learn about wine it’s far too easy to get pigeon-holed into thinking that you don’t like a certain varietal or the wines of a particular region.

Chardonnay is a pretty fine example of where that sort of generalizing can go wrong. It’s one of the most popular grapes in the world, and yet the prevalence of certain heavily oaked styles led to the rise of a very widespread boredom. The term ‘ABC’ (Anything But Chardonnay) was coined, and many people began to avoid the wine at all costs.

This fellow (let’s call him Jim) came to me and asked for four Chardonnays. One classic heavily oaked Californian, a light Chablis, one Chardonnay that could be described as “lightly oaked, good, but nothing special” (his exact words), and one very expensive Premiere Cru Meursault-Perrieres.

Jim had friends who adamantly maintained that they did not like Chardonnay, and he had taken it upon himself to break their assumption that all Chardonnays tasted the same. Jim had found in the past, that when some people were presented with such an array of different styles of wine made from one single varietal, that some people did not even recognize that they were made from the same grape. They were also shocked to discover what they had actually been tasting.

The French Chardonnays were a sneaky choice. If you’ve ever looked at a proper French label, you’ll notice that many of them don’t mention the varietal at all. The region and the vineyard the wine is from are a much more important indicator of what you as a consumer are buying. Thus, in France, there isn’t so much one single wine called ‘Chardonnay’ but many different wines, called things like ‘Chablis’, or ‘Meursault’ or ‘Puligny-Montrachet’. The differences between each wine are huge.

The parable here is that deciding you don’t like one particular varietal or style is a fairly solid way to miss out on an enormous amount of good wine (I’m still conquering my fear of New Zealand). This doesn’t just apply to Chardonnay either. Wine is about discovery, just as much as it is about enjoyment. Sometimes it’s amazing to find by chance a wine from some region you haven’t been very impressed with yet, and have it blow your mind.

I was never able to ask him how his blind tasting went, but I’m curious to know. It was definitely an idea worth thinking about.

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By Barret Pearson March 28, 2015 Comments Off on Tasting History

I had landed in France a week before, and for several days I had been simultaneously recovering from jet-lag, and tasting as many wines as I possibly could. I had shaken hands with vignerons, walked through muddy vineyards, sipped gorgeous Chenins and Cabernet Francs, and had happily absorbed the history and the traditions of the area.
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By Barret Pearson March 8, 2015 Comments Off on Unified Wine Tasting Standard

Trying to pick out wines for your friends is always a bit of a challenge. It can be completely overwhelming. You just walked into a wine store and you haven’t got the slightest idea which wine to pick that will satisfy your guests. You need something you know is good, but that’s also going to match their preferences and (hopefully) exceed their expectations. The only problem is, there isn’t a single bottle there you recognize. Say that perhaps you’ve got your handy copy of So and So’s 500 Best Value Wines, and every wine is rated with a comfortingly simple 100 point scale. That should make it easy, right? Nope.
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By Barret Pearson February 3, 2015 Comments Off on Loire – A Brief Introduction

The Loire valley is a surprisingly beautiful place. It doesn’t strike you immediately though. Much like its wines, the land itself is subtle and unpretentious. It’s not a place known for staggering monuments (though it is chock-full of stunning chateaux) or dramatic geography. It’s a relatively flat stretch of land (spanning from just south of Paris westwards towards Nantes, on the Atlantic coast) with no prominent mountains, scattered forests and rolling hills throughout.
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