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What Makes a Wine Great According to Andreas Larsson

What Makes a Wine Great According to Andreas Larsson

Tasting wine is not an exact science. It is something you learn from experience and hard work. We have to keep in mind that it is still a very subjective endeavor. It can never be 100% objective. As individuals we all appreciate different qualities in wine.

However with that said, I think a good wine needs to have character. To me, I like a wine having purity, aromatic intensity and an interesting structure. That doesn’t mean everything should be full-bodied, because some styles will never be as full. Even if they are lighter by nature, they should have good texture and structure. With all parts in place.

There should be harmony between tannin, acidity and the fruitiness. A good wine should have flavor intensity, it should leave an impression on the palate. It should have length. Beyond the nose and on the palate, I think what makes a great wine is that lasting persistence.

Then of course it needs to have character. There is a lot of good wine that are quite similar to each other, creating an average product. But a great wine always stands out. It has a distinct character. That might include some qualities that by some can be considered faulty. For example, volatile acidity in a traditional Baraolo, a slight hint of brettanomyces in a red Bordeaux, that doesn’t bother me. As long as it is well-integrated with the fruitiness and the structure. I think those small deviations can contribute to the overall picture.

I need to emphasis that not all wines can be great. Only a tiny percentage of the overall production can be linked to this. All can be good, but not great. I think if you pay five euros for a fresh, crisp, clean, fruity white wine to drink young, there is nothing wrong with it. I can enjoy it a great deal, but it is not the wine I would put in my cellar or write poems about.

A great wine needs to have the age-ability. The entire market tastes a lot of wine young, not having reached their peak. For a wine to be truly great, it should be drunk five, ten or fifteen years after the vintage. When aromatic intensity has increased, when texture has gotten rounder and smoother, when everything perfectly fits together.

Typicity is also a hot topic. Obviously I think it is very important. However in some regions, particularly if we take large ones like Bordeaux, Rioja and Champagne. There are so many different styles. So to really decide on the typicitiy can be a bit difficult. As a taster you have to accept more traditional styles, full-throttle modern styles, funky young styles, or old noble and austere side by side.

When I taste, write notes or comment, it is easy to see my enthusiasm when I like something. I cannot hide it, the words flow. Again all wines cannot be great. You can taste some good average, clean and fresh examples, but an exceptional wine excites you.

Do you think you make a great wine? In partnership with TASTED 100% Blind and Vivino wine app, Andreas Larsson is proud to present the new Best Wine in the World competition. Wines are judged by region, varietal or style to win the title of The Best Wine in the World. Registration is now open until July 31st, 2016. Find more information at


Germany – Mosel – Großes Gewächs VDP – Riesling – White
93 Points
“Beautiful purity on the taste as well. I really like that delicious, youthful yellow fruit. Mouth-watering acidity, almost with a salty minerality if you could say that. Mouth-watering. Fairly light in terms of body, but flavour intense.”

Italy – Tuscany – Sant’Antimo – Red
94 Points
“That’s bloody good actually! Very dense palate, lovely pure black fruit, cassis, slightly herb-infused with ripe herbs like mint, sage, sweet cassis, dark plum, really multilayered. It’s still youthful so it doesn’t really have a lot of complexity but it has layers, it has nuance, a very very long finish.”

Portugal – Alentejo – Red
93 Points
“Quite layered here with mild spices on the finish, with white pepper, clove. Really attractive fruit, finely integrated wood as well. Long and lingering finish. I really like the freshness in this one.”

France – Bordeaux – Pomerol – Red
92 Points
“So really intriguing and inviting. Very nice palate here. Plenty of flavour intensity. Good weight, full-bodied. However with a rounded texture here. Grainy tannin, some notes of dark chocolate. I did not get a lot of oak on the nose. There is a hint more of it on the palate, but finely roasted, not obtrusive at all.”

Austria – Burgenland – Sweet
93 Points
“Good extract there, with lemon zest and grapefruit. The sweetness is high but this doesn’t appear clawing or heavy in anyway. Good definition, good purity, Long and fresh finish.”

Italy – Piedmont – Barolo – Red
94 Points
“I think this is layered with that delicious sweet red fruit. Very fine spiciness. There is already a good deal of complexity. Well-balanced acidity that gives a lift as well. And a tremendously long finish. It really keeps lingering.”

Switzerland – Valais – White
92 Points
“Very complex and intriguing nose. Palate is quite full, it’s a bold opulent texture, with layers of ripe fruit. Still keeps fairly dry, with a good sensation of freshness; mouthwatering. It has evolved a little bit so it has rounded off its edges and offers an almost creamy texture.”