Burgundy - why is it so often cloudy?

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Todd F r e n c h
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Burgundy - why is it so often cloudy?

#1 Post by Todd F r e n c h » December 6th, 2018, 7:14 pm

I’ve noticed that while all old wines have a tendency to be cloudy, burgundy is more often so than others like Cab or Bordeaux or Syrah. Is this a reality, or just my experience? If so, why?
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Re: Burgundy - why is it so often cloudy?

#2 Post by Kirk.Grant » December 6th, 2018, 7:27 pm

I've noticed the sediment to be finer than in Cabs or other blends. I could be wrong...but that's my perception. What worries me more is that in some wines (from other places) there is a sediment that looks like a jelly fish that is not settling at all...it moves like jell-o whenever I check the bottle...not the wine, the sediment.
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Re: Burgundy - why is it so often cloudy?

#3 Post by c fu » December 6th, 2018, 8:27 pm

Todd F r e n c h wrote:
December 6th, 2018, 7:14 pm
I’ve noticed that while all old wines have a tendency to be cloudy, burgundy is more often so than others like Cab or Bordeaux or Syrah. Is this a reality, or just my experience? If so, why?
Sediment might be more fine? Settles if you stand it up for a little bit
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Re: Burgundy - why is it so often cloudy?

#4 Post by alan weinberg » December 6th, 2018, 8:36 pm

Exactly. Fine sediment. Many old bottles need a month upright before careful decanting.

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Re: Burgundy - why is it so often cloudy?

#5 Post by Paul H Galli » December 6th, 2018, 8:54 pm

I remember an 1995 Williams Selyem Pinot that I stood up for 5 weeks before the very fine sediment settled to the bottom.

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Re: Burgundy - why is it so often cloudy?

#6 Post by Tom Reddick » December 6th, 2018, 9:57 pm

I think it is a symptom of two things,

First- as others have noted, not letting a bottle sit long enough after transport for the wine to fully settle. It can take weeks. But many serve the bottle anyway.

Second- I have seen a handful of situations where sediment did not resettle in a bottle- ie where I saw the same bottle months later, and I attribute that to potential excess trading of an old bottle such that the sediment never fully clears- or at least not in any practicable time frame. That has been known to happen, but I sure see it more than I used to. The increased frequency plus the fact I have only seen it with very highly prized wines (first growth 1945s in two instances) is what makes me think excessive handling of the wines at an old age might be the primary cause.
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Re: Burgundy - why is it so often cloudy?

#7 Post by Craig G » December 6th, 2018, 10:12 pm

Todd F r e n c h wrote:
December 6th, 2018, 7:14 pm
I’ve noticed that while all old wines have a tendency to be cloudy, burgundy is more often so than others like Cab or Bordeaux or Syrah. Is this a reality, or just my experience? If so, why?
The Burgundy at those events you’re not invited to isn’t cloudy.
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Re: Burgundy - why is it so often cloudy?

#8 Post by Chris Seiber » December 6th, 2018, 11:13 pm

Does the cloudiness in Burgundy affect the smell and taste of the wine, or is it just a cosmetic issue?

In Barolo, the fine sediment cloudiness in older bottles can have a significantly negative effect on the taste of the wine, making it bitter and harsh. My experience with old Burgundy is very limited, but I haven't noticed bottles adversely affected because the wine was not clear.

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Re: Burgundy - why is it so often cloudy?

#9 Post by Markus S » December 7th, 2018, 4:34 am

Haven't noticed it. You want cloudy, drink some Jura poulsard!
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Re: Burgundy - why is it so often cloudy?

#10 Post by Gary Schulte » December 7th, 2018, 4:52 am

Have noticed this with older burgundies. For me late 1980s Philippe Leclerc wines stand out. Would place them on the counter upright for 1-2 days before opening and it helps but not completely clarifying. My experience with older Bordeaux is that the 2 day counter treatment makes everything settle and it pours clean.

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Re: Burgundy - why is it so often cloudy?

#11 Post by Jayson Cohen » December 7th, 2018, 5:09 am

Does anyone know of any studies of sediment particle density and size distribution as a function of grape variety? I would think this is some function of how that develops over time for different varietal wines, some influence of tendency of that sediment distribution to stick to the bottle walls, and how disturbances like moving the bottle tend to disturb it. Fining or filtration before bottling could influence sediment too.

Does anyone think anything other sediment in old wines causes this?

Like others, I tend to think of fine sediment creating cloudy wines in old Nebbiolo and possibly Poulsard (though the latter may be cloudy young as well in my experience) more so than Burgundy.

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Re: Burgundy - why is it so often cloudy?

#12 Post by Robert Love » December 7th, 2018, 6:31 am

Chris Seiber wrote:
December 6th, 2018, 11:13 pm
Does the cloudiness in Burgundy affect the smell and taste of the wine, or is it just a cosmetic issue?

In Barolo, the fine sediment cloudiness in older bottles can have a significantly negative effect on the taste of the wine, making it bitter and harsh. My experience with old Burgundy is very limited, but I haven't noticed bottles adversely affected because the wine was not clear.
I don't think the sediment in Burgundy impacts the smell or taste, but it does the texture and of course the aesthetics. Barolo is unique in having a particular bitterness to its sediment.

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Re: Burgundy - why is it so often cloudy?

#13 Post by C. Mc Cart » December 7th, 2018, 6:39 am

Sounds like you need to invest in one of those wild lightbox units before opening more wine Todd.
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Re: Burgundy - why is it so often cloudy?

#14 Post by alan weinberg » December 7th, 2018, 7:54 am

Robert Love wrote:
December 7th, 2018, 6:31 am
Chris Seiber wrote:
December 6th, 2018, 11:13 pm
Does the cloudiness in Burgundy affect the smell and taste of the wine, or is it just a cosmetic issue?

In Barolo, the fine sediment cloudiness in older bottles can have a significantly negative effect on the taste of the wine, making it bitter and harsh. My experience with old Burgundy is very limited, but I haven't noticed bottles adversely affected because the wine was not clear.
I don't think the sediment in Burgundy impacts the smell or taste, but it does the texture and of course the aesthetics. Barolo is unique in having a particular bitterness to its sediment.
I find that the sediment adds a sour twang that is not pleasant and I avoid it.

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Re: Burgundy - why is it so often cloudy?

#15 Post by GregT » December 7th, 2018, 7:59 am

I don't know about cloudiness in Burgundy specifically, and perhaps there's a bit of confirmation bias in noticing it, but it may have to do with the wine making as much as anything. And a lot of older Cabs from CA were made in a fairly clean way and fined and filtered, so that may account for less cloudiness in those.
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Re: Burgundy - why is it so often cloudy?

#16 Post by john stimson » December 7th, 2018, 9:23 pm

I don't really get this one. My Burgundy is hardly ever cloudy. Maybe clean your contacts?

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Re: Burgundy - why is it so often cloudy?

#17 Post by alan weinberg » December 7th, 2018, 9:28 pm

john stimson wrote:
December 7th, 2018, 9:23 pm
I don't really get this one. My Burgundy is hardly ever cloudy. Maybe clean your contacts?
are you drinking young reds? Or maybe standing them up well in advance. Some producers’ wines throw little sediment.

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Re: Burgundy - why is it so often cloudy?

#18 Post by john stimson » December 7th, 2018, 9:39 pm

alan weinberg wrote:
December 7th, 2018, 9:28 pm
john stimson wrote:
December 7th, 2018, 9:23 pm
I don't really get this one. My Burgundy is hardly ever cloudy. Maybe clean your contacts?
are you drinking young reds? Or maybe standing them up well in advance. Some producers’ wines throw little sediment.
I'm drinking mostly 1993 on, but currently about 1/2 in the 1990's. I stand most up for a day or two, as I would any wine with any age, but even the ones I pull from the rack at the last minute have the sediment on the side of the bottle. I decant most everything to get it off the sediment (not a believer in the never decant a burg thing). Of course I don't run up the stairs from the cellar, or throw it in the back seat of the car, but I know Todd is somewhat unlikely to do this as well.

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Re: Burgundy - why is it so often cloudy?

#19 Post by Alan Eden » December 8th, 2018, 5:22 am

Its the added vitamins and minerals that are added in Burgundy to keep the average old Burg drinker around so they can still sell the over priced wines
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Re: Burgundy - why is it so often cloudy?

#20 Post by Howard Cooper » December 8th, 2018, 7:32 am

Alan Eden wrote:
December 8th, 2018, 5:22 am
Its the added vitamins and minerals that are added in Burgundy to keep the average old Burg drinker around so they can still sell the over priced wines
Do you actually know anything about Burgundy? Please name the last five Burgundies that are more than 10 years old you have had from top producers.
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Re: Burgundy - why is it so often cloudy?

#21 Post by Todd F r e n c h » December 8th, 2018, 7:36 am

john stimson wrote:
December 7th, 2018, 9:39 pm
alan weinberg wrote:
December 7th, 2018, 9:28 pm
john stimson wrote:
December 7th, 2018, 9:23 pm
I don't really get this one. My Burgundy is hardly ever cloudy. Maybe clean your contacts?
are you drinking young reds? Or maybe standing them up well in advance. Some producers’ wines throw little sediment.
I'm drinking mostly 1993 on, but currently about 1/2 in the 1990's. I stand most up for a day or two, as I would any wine with any age, but even the ones I pull from the rack at the last minute have the sediment on the side of the bottle. I decant most everything to get it off the sediment (not a believer in the never decant a burg thing). Of course I don't run up the stairs from the cellar, or throw it in the back seat of the car, but I know Todd is somewhat unlikely to do this as well.
I'll stand one up next time, but typically, as per the '98 Jean-Michel Guillon Gevrey-Chambertin 1er Cru Petite Chapelle I opened when I posted this, it was vertical for perhaps 3 hours total.

I don't mind it, not at all, I've just found that it's more common in older Burgundy than any other red wine. I've noticed it in a lot of Joseph Swan Pinot Noir bottles as well, so I attribute it to the grape.
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Re: Burgundy - why is it so often cloudy?

#22 Post by john stimson » December 8th, 2018, 10:16 am

Personally, I have much more in the way of sediment issues with Barolo and Northern Rhone. (not really an issue, but you just have to account for it. Many hard core Barolo drinkers stand their wines up for a month.)

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Re: Burgundy - why is it so often cloudy?

#23 Post by Kirk.Grant » December 8th, 2018, 10:22 am

alan weinberg wrote:
December 7th, 2018, 7:54 am
I find that the sediment adds a sour twang that is not pleasant and I avoid it.
I find this in ALL the reds I drink. It's why I try to transport reds far in advance but especially Burgundy. I don't have as much experience as others here...but EVERY Pinot Noir that I've had that was more than 10 years old benefited greatly from time & patience for ALL the sediment to settle and then decant the wines. I usually try to set them at a 40 degree angle to allow the sediment to settle into one section of the base of the bottle. I've found this gets me between 2-3 oz. sometimes 4oz. more ounces out of a bottle when I'm decanting.
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Re: Burgundy - why is it so often cloudy?

#24 Post by Alan Eden » December 8th, 2018, 10:27 am

Howard Cooper wrote:
December 8th, 2018, 7:32 am
Alan Eden wrote:
December 8th, 2018, 5:22 am
Its the added vitamins and minerals that are added in Burgundy to keep the average old Burg drinker around so they can still sell the over priced wines
Do you actually know anything about Burgundy? Please name the last five Burgundies that are more than 10 years old you have had from top producers.
Geez, why do burg drinkers take everything so seriously, its only friggin wine, its ok just to treat it like grape juice
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Re: Burgundy - why is it so often cloudy?

#25 Post by Lee Short » December 8th, 2018, 11:25 am

Kirk.Grant wrote:
December 8th, 2018, 10:22 am
alan weinberg wrote:
December 7th, 2018, 7:54 am
I find that the sediment adds a sour twang that is not pleasant and I avoid it.
I find this in ALL the reds I drink. It's why I try to transport reds far in advance but especially Burgundy. I don't have as much experience as others here...but EVERY Pinot Noir that I've had that was more than 10 years old benefited greatly from time & patience for ALL the sediment to settle and then decant the wines. I usually try to set them at a 40 degree angle to allow the sediment to settle into one section of the base of the bottle. I've found this gets me between 2-3 oz. sometimes 4oz. more ounces out of a bottle when I'm decanting.
Yeah, pretty much. There a some ageable reds from particular vintages that didn't throw much sediment, but I'm always careful about transporting older reds within a day or two of drinking them.

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Re: Burgundy - why is it so often cloudy?

#26 Post by Howard Cooper » December 8th, 2018, 1:42 pm

Alan Eden wrote:
December 8th, 2018, 10:27 am
Howard Cooper wrote:
December 8th, 2018, 7:32 am
Alan Eden wrote:
December 8th, 2018, 5:22 am
Its the added vitamins and minerals that are added in Burgundy to keep the average old Burg drinker around so they can still sell the over priced wines
Do you actually know anything about Burgundy? Please name the last five Burgundies that are more than 10 years old you have had from top producers.
Geez, why do burg drinkers take everything so seriously, its only friggin wine, its ok just to treat it like grape juice
I will start replying to the stupid threads you continually start in a similar manner and will repeat your comment every time you object to it.
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Re: Burgundy - why is it so often cloudy?

#27 Post by Seth M. Long » December 8th, 2018, 2:22 pm

Great topic. Makes sense to me. Burgundy has super parcellated holdings of a thin-skinned cultivar. Perhaps with each increase in the number of bottlings, settling/racking/bottling becomes more important and harder to execute perfectly/consistently. Add to this that the wines are either lightly fined or unfined and are mostly unfiltered. On the flip side, it seems as though one can easily achieve more consistency in the settling/racking/bottling from larger, less parcellated holdings (Bordeaux, parts of Rhone, Piedmont...). And I assume there is more fining/filtration in certain parts of these appellations.
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Re: Burgundy - why is it so often cloudy?

#28 Post by Kris Patten » December 8th, 2018, 6:44 pm

I have found two reasons, one of which is mentioned many times, fine sediment, the second is Burgundy's tendency to lighter color and a more transparent hue making it easier to see the cloudiness vs. BDX or Syrah which carry more color. They can still be cloudy, I just find it easier to see in Pinot Noir.
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Re: Burgundy - why is it so often cloudy?

#29 Post by b. c@stner » December 8th, 2018, 8:18 pm

Alan Eden wrote:
December 8th, 2018, 10:27 am
Howard Cooper wrote:
December 8th, 2018, 7:32 am
Alan Eden wrote:
December 8th, 2018, 5:22 am
Its the added vitamins and minerals that are added in Burgundy to keep the average old Burg drinker around so they can still sell the over priced wines
Do you actually know anything about Burgundy? Please name the last five Burgundies that are more than 10 years old you have had from top producers.
Geez, why do burg drinkers take everything so seriously, its only friggin wine, its ok just to treat it like grape juice
Alan, I'm with you on this one. Don't be joking about burg, not here, not ever. About most wines actually. It's why I don't post notes about any wines here.
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Re: Burgundy - why is it so often cloudy?

#30 Post by Kevin Harvey » December 8th, 2018, 8:53 pm

Pinot Noir can tend to be more cloudy than other reds because it is typically racked less often during elevage.
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Re: Burgundy - why is it so often cloudy?

#31 Post by Alan Eden » December 8th, 2018, 10:48 pm

Howard Cooper wrote:
December 8th, 2018, 1:42 pm
Alan Eden wrote:
December 8th, 2018, 10:27 am
Howard Cooper wrote:
December 8th, 2018, 7:32 am


Do you actually know anything about Burgundy? Please name the last five Burgundies that are more than 10 years old you have had from top producers.
Geez, why do burg drinkers take everything so seriously, its only friggin wine, its ok just to treat it like grape juice
I will start replying to the stupid threads you continually start in a similar manner and will repeat your comment every time you object to it.
No worries, the difference is i dont have a stick so far up my ass that i cant spot obvious sarcasm
There are 10 kinds of people in the world, those that understand binary and those that don't

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