November 10, 2008

Palate Training #2: Pears

I've noticed a few of the scientists here at the Lab are starting to look a little soft. Time for a work out, boys and girls.

That's right. It's time for another round of PALATE TRAINING.

It's Autumn in Los Angeles. Not that anyone would notice a change of season here. Except in the produce section where pears are in abundant season. After apples, pears are perhaps the most oft referenced fruit used to describe white wines. Pear flavors turn up all over. In Champagne, the Rhone, of course the Loire (Anjou), Burgundy, the Mosel River valley, the Penedes region in Spain... I could go on like this for a very long time.

We tasted five different varieties: Bartlett, d'Anjou, Starkrimson, Forelle and Bosc.

Here's the notes:

Bartlett: Sweet fruit with a slightly bitter, licorice taste in the skins. Some underlying, and gentle, acidity.

d'Anjou: Not as expressive, especially the peel. Perhaps needs a few more days to fully ripen. More about texture than sugar.

Starkminson: Well integrated and balanced sugar and acid. Peel brought a woodsy flavor. Not as sweet as the Bartlett.

Forelle: This is the runt of the pears. A cute little guy with skin ripening from green to red. Gloriously sweet, almost like candy. No real acid and not much complexity but a very delicious fruit.

Bosc: like a Riesling spatlese from an over-ripe year. The sweet in this pear is luxurious and sophisticated.

On balance, I'd say the most notable conclusion of this exercise was the lack of obvious difference among these fruits. Unlike the apples, which had distinct and recognizable, individual flavors, what struck me about the pears was the subtlety of the differences between them.

It has been noted that in this Lab's first public experiment, when we tasted a single bottle of Nicolas Joly's Loire Chenin Blanc over 5 days, I managed to use a different pear to describe the changes on each day. In retrospect, that might have been a slightly fanciful exaggeration on my part...


dhonig said...

How the heck have I missed this site up until now? Have a link.

Have you joined The 89 Project yet?

This comment brought to you by 2 Days per Bottle, trying to click through its entire blogroll daily.

Arthur, said...

Excellent exercise.
I did something like this recently!
I bought as many different pears as I could and smelled and tasted them taking notes all along.

I also do this with more exotic spices and foods, occasionally hitting the Asian section of town and picking up less commonly found items.

A fun exercise was taking canned lychee (fresh were not in season) and mandarin oranges and doing a compare and contrast type of assessment that helped broaden my sensory vocabulary.

Director Lab Propaganda said...

Thanks for stopping by the Lab. I'll have a look at your project.

I'm surprised we haven't bumped into each other in the produce section. Always glad to have you stop by. Will have to run the kids through some laps with your exotics. It's a great suggestion.