Le Nez Collection – What is it? How does it work? How can it help me?
A Tool and a Game for Everyone.
Le Nez du Vin is simply the Worlds Ultimate Wine, Coffee and Whisky Education Tool. It helps develop the sense of smell and creates a common language to describe, understand and better enjoy wine. Wine Aromas - Le Nez du Vin is based on the best selling book by Jean Lenoir.
Wine, or more specifically the fruit of the vine, takes on the characteristics of the elements that surround it. Within the earth, air and water are aromatic compounds and essences of plant and floral life, layered over centuries. These are the exceptional aromas found in red and white wine, from France and around the world. Aromas can give us an indication of a wine’s country, region & vineyard of origin, grape varietal and the wine-making techniques and aging conditions that contributed to the vintage.
What is it for?
- Developing the sense of smell
We all have a very sensitive sense of smell but practice helps us to recognize and identify the different aromas present in wine.
- Learning the language of wine
How can we detect the aromas in wine if they are not stored in our scent memory or if we cannot put a name to them? Jean Lenoir approaches the problem as if he were writing a dictionary; introducing us to aromas and helping us remember them as if we were learning a foreign language. The collection provides users with a way of communicating their love of wine.
- Improving our appreciation of wine
We all enjoy drinking wine but that pleasure is heightened if we are able to appreciate different tastes and assess the wine’s richness and complexity
The Nose, the sharpest of all our senses. It helps us determine our preferences, likes and dislikes, yet…
We don’t make it work for us! It has become lazy! What can we do about it?
The Nose and tasting
Smelling the wine is such an important part of the tasting process that the traditional hierarchy of the senses is reversed (usually sight and hearing are 200 times as important) the nose is essential to the perception of wine.
Direct and retro-nasal olfaction
The taster uses both his nose and his mouth to smell because all the elements that are perceived via the nose (the smell of wine in the glass) and via the retro-nasal passage (its aroma on the palate) combine and complement one another… and provide 90% of the pleasure of tasting!
Fact: you can’t taste anything when you have a cold.
How the nose works
The olfactive epithelium is located at the top of the nasal passage. It is a tissue with a surface area of 3 to 4 cm2 covered with a mucus containing receptor cells. Each cell has some twenty fibers whose surface carries approximately one million proteic receptors per square micron.
A scent molecule acts like a chemical signal which when it arrives at the end of the nasal passage, dissolves in the mucus, combining with the receptor proteins; a host of reactions follows, instantly transforming this chemical message into an electrical one which is reflected like an image on the olfactory bulb. Imagine that the olfactory bulb corresponds to the retina in the eye and that the image of the odor on the bulb corresponds to the picture of an object on the retina. This image is then handled by the deepest areas of our brain and reduced to its contours in the pyriform cortex, committed to memory and compared to others in the temporal lobe, catalogued, then associated with a pleasurable experience in the far lateral hypothalamus. We learn gradually how to put a name to certain scents and should learn to identify them by practicing. This is the our sense of smell needs that society does not give us but the Nez du Vin does.
How can we train our sense of smell?
Today, thanks to the Nez du Vin, we can all be or become tasters. Millions of wine lovers are learning to develop their scent memory and are beginning to learn about the aromas in wine in the same way as they would a foreign language. Learning with the Nez du Vin is simple, fun and open to everyone. In just a few months you will have acquired all the necessary abilities to appreciate, comment upon and judge wines.
A training method
The Nez du Vin is a perfect way of training your scent memory. Keep it close at hand, get it out of the cupboard, get comfortable, take a sniff, inhale the collection of aromas, nourish your scent memory. Admit it, you didn’t know you had been missing so much!
Play the game, and you will be surprised to realize just how many aromas there are in wine.
Practice regularly and concentrate (try not to consult the key). Try to put a name to each of the aromas, categorize them, then check and go over the ones that you could not identify the day before. After a few months, or a few weeks even, you will have no problem pinpointing, recognizing and naming the aromas.
Recognizing scents in wine
This will come with practice. Once you’ve begun you’ll soon be able to recognize the characteristic scent of a grape variety, a terroir, or the way a wine is made etc. and you will realize that each wine is unique. A satisfying result!
The Story behind Le Nez du Vin and it’s author
Jean Lenoir : The Author of Le Nez Collection
Over 30 years ago, Jean Lenoir created the Le Nez du Vin, revolutionizing the art of wine tasting and sparking a surge of interest in aromas. People are always asking me the same question: how did you get the idea?
1936, Malraux dreamt of a place where the arts would be accessible to the general public and not just to an elite. The first of these places was the Maison de la Culture in Bourges which he opened in 1960 together with General de Gaulle. The fourteenth one to open in France was in Chalon-sur-Saône where I worked for 10 years, from 1972 to 1981.
I immediately decided I wanted to include the senses of smell and taste in this cultural venture, thereby putting them on an equal footing with music or the theatre, the fine arts or the cinema, which was quite revolutionary at the time. I was born in Burgundy so the vine was as much a part of me as it was of the landscape. Quite naturally therefore, I chose wine to convey this new concept. There was an entire heritage to be investigated: France at its best!
I wanted to do things properly so I had to go back to basics!
The wine institute in Burgundy was offering a year-long course and I was fortunate enough to be able to follow this course at the same time as my friend, Georges Pertuiset (who was later to receive the title Best Sommelier in France) and the sommeliers of Burgundy.As luck would have it, the course was taught by the great Max Léglise, who never failed to amaze me with the subtlety of his tasting notes recorded in his fine work, ” An introduction to tasting fine wines ” published in 1976.
Over that year, the committees representing all the great winemaking regions of France came to present their wines: Bordeaux, Champagne, Alsace, the Jura, the Loire, the Rhône, Provence, Languedoc-Roussillon, Cognac… Each one offered us a tasting of at least 7 wines. A sheer delight!
Just as I turned 40, my change of career was sanctioned by a professional certificate in wine tasting and a wine technician diploma from the Science Department of the University of Dijon.
Why not make this heritage accessible to others at the Cultural Centre, ideally situated at the heart of Burgundy?
George Pertuiset kicked off the first course. Three years went by and our members were still as keen as ever but by then wine clubs had sprung up all over France. We were a great success with both the public and the winemakers and tasted wines from all the other regions of France and then from all over the world: California, Spain, Italy, Germany, Greece etc.
At the same time, our teacher, Jean Siegrist would have us smell little bottles of aromas – not an easy exercise! I had a terrible time trying to recognise the smell of butter, hazelnut etc… and began to realize just how little vocabulary I had to describe these sensations. The next day, I would make a beeline for the grocery in Chagny, one of those old-fashioned places selling the fascinating things that ladies would use to make cakes: bottles of vanilla, almond, hazelnut etc… Truly an Aladdin’s cave! This mania for collecting aromas lasted several months. Barely 12 months later I had 400 bottles of amazing aromas, many of which were closely linked to wine. Guided by my tasting notes and all sorts of reference works, I spent two years compiling an almost monastic inventory of the aromas linked to wine.
The turning point came when I met Jules Chauvet; the precepts he taught me are those I apply and recommend today.
This winemaker extraordinary took his subject very seriously; every morning he would “blind smell” some ten aromas from his collection. Whenever he made a mistake he would come back to the same scent the next day. He urged me to develop my idea and to precede all my tastings with a sniffing session, a basic exercise to educate the nose and prepare it for the aromas it will encounter.
Little by little, I began to memorise the most typical aromas from the hundreds of aroma bottles before my eyes especially the easiest ones having some link with wine. I then classified them by family: fruity, floral, animal, vegetal, toasty.
The scents and my tasting notes were jotted down on index cards. The only thing left to do then was to illustrate them: these were the foundations for the basis for the Le Nez du Vin.
All this work was useful for the wine tasting course I was giving. Before long, almost everyone wanted to acquire these original scents of truffle, acacia, linden, butter etc… which they in turn had found so difficult to recognise, whether it be by smelling the little bottles or during a wine tasting. But little by little the learning process set in and I remember how pleased the people in one group were when they discovered the extraordinary smell of truffles in a 1971 Bandol from Domaine Tempier.
In 1980, an event of international importance was to take place in Chalon-sur-Saône. It was the “Eat-Art” festival founded by Daniel Spoerri in the 60′s. This event was to bring the Cultural Centre at Chalon-sur-Saône into the limelight, particularly its emphasis on wine and food. It was Daniel Spoerri who gave me the idea for a “book-object”.
I immediately christened it “Le Nez du Vin” and opted for the encyclopedic format necessary to house such a formidable amount of information and the little glass bottles that would be as pleasurable to handle as to use: the Nez du Vin was born! The collection was to include 54 aromas and an equal number of precise terms to help wine lovers express their enthusiasm with a range of words taken from everyday vocabulary. The first thousand editions were self-published and sold by subscription over Christmas 1981. This unique work compiled of words and scents met with immediate and universal enthusiasm and admiration from specialists and non-specialists alike. The first edition sold out immediately. This leap to success encouraged me to reprint another 2000 copies just 2 months later. Since then, the Le Nez du Vin has been constantly revised and has gone from strength to strength.