How many white Burgundy drinkers have stopped or seriously reduced purchases of it?

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How many white Burgundy drinkers have reduced purchases of it cos of premox?

Poll ended at October 12th, 2010, 7:13 am

I have stopped buying period.
37
26%
I am buying 70-100% of what I used to buy.
26
18%
I am buying 50-70%
11
8%
I am buying less than 50%.
42
29%
I never bought white Burgundy pre Premox
29
20%
 
Total votes: 145

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Greg Pierce
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Re: How many white Burgundy drinkers have stopped or seriously reduced purchases of it?

#36 Post by Greg Pierce »

Flawed poll for me.

I didn't buy white burgundy to cellar prior to discovering the whole premox issue. Accordingly, I'm not buying less than I did before. That having been said, I certainly buy less than I would if there were no premox to worry about.

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Re: How many white Burgundy drinkers have stopped or seriously reduced purchases of it?

#37 Post by craig v »

I've just slowed down because I own a bunch(165 blts) of it right now. So, I'm buying less than 1/2 but still buying selectively buying some Dauvissat and AOC Chablis currently. In a yr or so I'll start buying in earnest again.
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Re: How many white Burgundy drinkers have stopped or seriously reduced purchases of it?

#38 Post by Leah Amir »

Slowed down all purchases across the board. I buy from a handful of wines from Fevre, Niellon, Bouchard and Boillot for short term drinking. No long term cellaring as I have been burned by premox too many times....

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Re: How many white Burgundy drinkers have stopped or seriously reduced purchases of it?

#39 Post by Paul Klevgard »

Leah Amir wrote:Slowed down all purchases across the board. I buy from a handful of wines from Fevre, Niellon, Bouchard and Boillot for short term drinking. No long term cellaring as I have been burned by premox too many times....
Leah,

Fevre and Bouchard appear to be good choices; I have no experience with Boillot. But I have had considerable trouble with Niellon, esp. his '99 premier crus. I would suggest Leflaive instead.

See you this month, I hope...

Paul

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Re: How many white Burgundy drinkers have stopped or seriously reduced purchases of it?

#40 Post by Don Cornwell »

Mark:

I agree that the poll is flawed in one respect. There should have been an option for people who buy roughly the same amount but have changed the producers that they buy. Like Ian and Rainer and some of the others who have posted, I'm definitely in the "buy the same or more but switched the producers that I buy" category.

I love white burgundy and aside from a tiny handful of California chardonnays made to improve with bottle age, there's no effective substitute. The key is to educate yourself as to the oxidation performance of the various producers and to completely avoid those who consistently produce oxidized wines and/or to buy with the plan of drinking the wines at an earlier point. For those who don't already know that, the Oxidized Burgundies Wiki Site has both details on every producer in terms of people reporting whether bottles were oxidized or not oxidized and I've also got a separate page which groups producers into five separate categories based on their oxidation performance over time. The website address is listed with my signature below.

For the benefit of those like Charlie who have asked, here is my present list of the five categories of producers in terms of their oxidiation performance, and some notes thereafter on recent trends---

Category I: The first category is a group of producers whose rates of oxidation appear to be greater than one out of three bottles and, in a few cases, the incidence of oxidation approaches 100%, i.e. in my opinion, these are the worst performers from an oxidation perspective: Guy Amiot, Bonneau du Martray, Colin-Deleger, Coutoux, Droin, Fontaine-Gagnard, Jadot [after 1999], Jouard, Juillot, Matrot, Tessier and Verget.

Category II: The second category is a group of producers who have unexplainable seemingly "random" oxidation but at what would appear to be a clearly higher than normal or "above average" incidence. The producers who would presently fall in this category in my opinion are: Carillon, Girardin, Lafon, Hubert Lamy, Montille, Jean-Marc Pillot [recently "elevated" from Category I based on much better performance from 2000 on], Ramonet, Sauzet [recently "elevated" from Category I on the strength of the 2000-2002 vintages] and Roumier.

Category III: The third category is the largest group of producers for whom the oxidation incidence is "today's normal" or roughly 10-15%. There are far too many producers to name here individually, but you can figure it out by process of deduction given the other listed producers in Categories I, II, IV and V.

Category IV: The fourth category is a group of producers who seem to have had oxidation problems in only one particular vintage or with one particular bottling in a vintage: Dauvissat (1996), Pernot (1995), Roulot (1996 Meursault Perrieres and perhaps others), Leroy SA (1996 Meursault Perrieres initial release) and Pierre Morey (1999).

Category V: The fifth and final group of producers are those who have very little premature oxidation as a percentage of bottles opened and indeed seem to have no higher incidence of premature oxidation since 1994 than they did before, i.e., Coche-Dury, DRC, Leflaive, Leroy/D'Auvenay and Raveneau.

What are the recent trends? In my opinion, several producers are doing much better after 1999 while others are getting worse. Some others you still have to be very wary of.

Producers showing marked improvement

Sauzet: This estate was one of the poster children for premox in the 1995, 1996 and 1999 vintages. Since 2000 there have been no significant issues. Has made major changes in winemaking, including eliminating batonnage, changing cork suppliers, eliminating cork treatments, changing the shape and diameter of the bottle neck, etc.

Carillon: High incidence of premox from 1995-1999. Much better from 2000 on. Has substantially increased SO2 additions starting with 2005.

Jean-Marc Pillot: Another producer with huge problems in 1995, 1996 and 1999 and much better from 2000 on. This producer had initially decreased SO2 use to 17ppm in the 1990's. They apparently increased the SO2 level starting with the 2000 vintage and and again in 2005. Currently using 30 ppm.

Bouchard: This producer has exhibited a fairly low incidence of premox over the 1995-2002 vintages. Today this estate is the most single-minded about eliminating premox and has spent considerable time and money on the issue. Among the changes made are an increase in SO2 use, performing batonnage only in closed barrels by rolling the barrel, a new ultra-low oxygen bottling line, changing cork suppliers to producers of non-irrigated corks who harvest only every 12 years and weighing every cork (to eliminate low density, i.e. more porous, corks) on their top crus. Bouchard clearly wins the prize for the greatest amount of effort and research devoted to the problem.

Lafon: This producer had above average to well above average incidence of premox in 1995, 1996, 1999 and 2001, but thus far has had much better performance in 2000 and 2002. Batonnage has been severely restricted and is now performed by rolling the barrels. Reductive wine making techniques have been utiliized here since at least 2000 if not before. Cork standards have been raised. Beginning with 2004, corks are no longer bleached and are coated with 100% paraffin. SO2 level at bottling was increased beginning with 2005.

I have confidence in all of the above producers and have resumed buying all of them.

Producers for whom the problem is getting worse--

Jadot: If there is a poster child for premox starting with the 2000 vintage it is Jadot. In my view, Jadot was overwhelmingly the worst premox offender of the 2000 vintage which otherwise has a very low oxidation rate. Jadot was equally bad in 2001 and the incidence is approximately 50% at this point for the 2002 vintage. I have already heard reports of serious oxidation of 2004 Jadots from people whose palates I trust implicitly. From the 2000 vintage on, this is a producer to absolutely avoid in my opinion.

Producers to buy with your eyes wide open and whose wines you should not forget in the cellar ---

Henri Boillot: Boillot produces excellent wines, but they definitely mature faster than other top tier wines --probably by at least two years. To me this producer's optimum drinking window is from five to eight years. If you hold them any longer than that, you will experience well above average rates of oxidation. (So far, the 2000 vintage is the only exception to this rule.)

Ramonet: This is a producer I love, but Ramonet had overwhelming oxidation from the top to the bottom in 1995 and 1996. I once thought Montrachet was exempt, but have now had oxidized 1996 Montrachet as well. There is an above average level of oxidation reported for the premier crus in the 1999-2002 vintages. I've had many grand crus from these vintages, but so far I've not experienced an oxidized grand cru. Unless we conclude that the practices are different for the Ramonet grand crus, it's only a matter of time.

Significant Producers I currently won't buy at any price because the premox risks are just too high---

Blain-Gagnard: can produce amazing wine, but too much premox risk for me
Bonneau du Martray: Oxidation in every vintage from 1996 to 2004
Colin-Deleger: Probably the reigning poster child for premox, although the Chevalier wasn't oxidized in my 2001 and 2002 annual vintage tastings.
Fontaine-Gagnard: a shame here, because the best bottles of 2000 and 2002 are incredibly good
Jadot: won't buy anything prduced after 1999
Matrot: One of the worst overall performances for vintages 1999 to 2002.
Last edited by Don Cornwell on October 7th, 2010, 1:39 am, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: How many white Burgundy drinkers have stopped or seriously reduced purchases of it?

#41 Post by Steven Lawrence »

Don Cornwell wrote:Mark:

I agree that the poll is flawed in one respect. There should have been an option for people who buy roughly the same amount but have changed the producers that they buy. Like Ian and Rainer and some of the others who have posted, I'm definitely in the "buy the same or more but switched the producers that I buy" category.

I love white burgundy and aside from a tiny handful of California chardonnays made to improve with bottle age, there's no effective substitute. The key is to educate yourself as to the oxidation performance of the various producers and to completely avoid those who consistently produce oxidized wines and/or to buy with the plan of drinking the wines at an earlier point. For those who don't already know that, the Oxidized Burgundies Wiki Site has both details on every producer in terms of people reporting whether bottles were oxidized or not oxidized and I've also got a separate page which groups producers into five separate categories based on their oxidation performance over time. The website address is listed with my signature below.

For the benefit of those like Charlie who have asked, here is my present list of the five categories of producers in terms of their oxidiation performance, and some notes thereafter on recent trends---

Category I: The first category is a group of producers whose rates of oxidation appear to be greater than one out of three bottles and, in a few cases, the incidence of oxidation approaches 100%, i.e. in my opinion, these are the worst performers from an oxidation perspective: Guy Amiot, Bonneau du Martray, Colin-Deleger, Coutoux, Droin, Fontaine-Gagnard, Jadot [after 1999], Jouard, Juillot, Matrot, Tessier and Verget.

Category II: The second category is a group of producers who have unexplainable seemingly "random" oxidation but at what would appear to be a clearly higher than normal or "above average" incidence. The producers who would presently fall in this category in my opinion are: Carillon, Girardin, Lafon, Hubert Lamy, Montille, Jean-Marc Pillot [recently "elevated" from Category I based on much better performance from 2000 on], Ramonet, Sauzet [recently "elevated" from Category I on the strength of the 2000-2002 vintages] and Roumier.

Category III: The third category is the largest group of producers for whom the oxidation incidence is "today's normal" or roughly 10-15%. There are far too many producers to name here individually, but you can figure it out by process of deduction given the other listed producers in Categories I, II, IV and V.

Category IV: The fourth category is a group of producers who seem to have had oxidation problems in only one particular vintage or with one particular bottling in a vintage: Dauvissat (1996), Pernot (1995), Roulot (1996 Meursault Perrieres and perhaps others), Leroy SA (1996 Meursault Perrieres initial release) and Pierre Morey (1999).

Category V: The fifth and final group of producers are those who have very little premature oxidation as a percentage of bottles opened and indeed seem to have no higher incidence of premature oxidation since 1994 than they did before, i.e., Coche-Dury, DRC, Leflaive, Leroy/D'Auvenay and Raveneau.

What are the recent trends? In my opinion, several producers are doing much better after 1999 while others are getting worse. Some others you still have to be very wary of.

Producers showing marked improvement

Sauzet: This estate was one of the poster children for premox in the 1995, 1996 and 1999 vintages. Since 2000 there have been no significant issues. Has made major changes in winemaking, including eliminating batonnage, changing cork suppliers, eliminating cork treatments, changing the shape and diameter of the bottle neck, etc.

Carillon: High incidence of premox from 1995-1999. Much better from 2000 on. Has substantially increased SO2 additions starting with 2005.

Jean-Marc Pillot: Another producer with huge problems in 1995, 1996 and 1999 and much better from 2000 on. This producer had initially decreased SO2 use to 17ppm in the 1990's. They apparently increased the SO2 level starting with the 2000 vintage and and again in 2005. Currently using 30 ppm.

Bouchard: This producer had some serious premox issues in 1995 and 1996 but has steadily improved from 1999 on. Today this estate is the most single-minded about eliminating premox and has spent considerable time and money on the issue. Among the changes made are an increase in SO2 use, performing batonnage only in closed barrels by rolling the barrel, a new ultra-low oxygen bottling line, changing cork suppliers to producers of non-irrigated corks who harvest only every 12 years and weighing every cork (to eliminate low density, i.e. more porous, corks) on their top crus. Bouchard clearly wins the prize for the greatest amount of effort and research devoted to the problem. From

Lafon: This producer had above average to well above average incidence of premox in 1995, 1996, 1999 and 2001, but thus far has had much better performance in 2000 and 2002. Batonnage has been severely restricted and is now performed by rolling the barrels. Reductive wine making techniques have been utiliized here since at least 2000 if not before. Cork standards have been raised. Beginning with 2004, corks are no longer bleached and are coated with 100% paraffin. SO2 level at bottling was increased beginning with 2005.

I have confidence in all of the above producers and have resumed buying all of them.

Producers for whom the problem is getting worse--

Jadot: If there is a poster child for premox starting with the 2000 vintage it is Jadot. In my view, Jadot was overwhelmingly the worst premox offender of the 2000 vintage which otherwise has a very low oxidation rate. Jadot was equally bad in 2001 and the incidence is approximately 50% at this point for the 2002 vintage. I have already heard reports of serious oxidation of 2004 Jadots from people whose palates I trust implicitly. From the 2000 vintage on, this is a producer to absolutely avoid in my opinion.

Producers to buy with your eyes wide open and whose wines you should not forget in the cellar ---

Henri Boillot: Boillot produces excellent wines, but they definitely mature faster than other top tier wines --probably by at least two years. To me this producer's optimum drinking window is from five to eight years. If you hold them any longer than that, you will experience well above average rates of oxidation. (So far, the 2000 vintage is the only exception to this rule.)

Ramonet: This is a producer I love, but Ramonet had overwhelming oxidation from the top to the bottom in 1995 and 1996. I once thought Montrachet was exempt, but have now had oxidized 1996 Montrachet as well. There is an above average level of oxidation reported for the premier crus in the 1999-2002 vintages. I've had many grand crus from these vintages, but so far I've not experienced an oxidized grand cru. Unless we conclude that the practices are different for the Ramonet grand crus, it's only a matter of time.

Significant Producers I currently won't buy at any price because the premox risks are just too high---

Blain-Gagnard: can produce amazing wine, but too much premox risk for me
Bonneau du Martray: Oxidation in every vintage from 1996 to 2004
Colin-Deleger: Probably the reigning poster child for premox, although the Chevalier wasn't oxidized in my 2001 and 2002 annual vintage tastings.
Fontaine-Gagnard: a shame here, because the best bottles of 2000 and 2002 are incredibly good
Jadot: won't buy anything prduced after 1999
Matrot: One of the worst overall performances for vintages 1999 to 2002.
Wow! Thanks for this amazing summary, Don. [welldone.gif]

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Re: How many white Burgundy drinkers have stopped or seriously reduced purchases of it?

#42 Post by Steven Lipman »

Don

What about Fevre? I recently had the 2006 Les Clos which I thought was great. Would like to buy more from this producer.

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Re: How many white Burgundy drinkers have stopped or seriously reduced purchases of it?

#43 Post by P@u1_M3nk3s »

Right now I'm buying less then a case per vintage for all my White Burgundy "needs". I was buying a lot of Colin-Deleger, but stopped a year or so before the domaine was broken up. So far I've lucky - only had one totally premoxed bottle from them. My worst producer has been Javillier. All my 99s and 2000s were premoxed.
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Re: How many white Burgundy drinkers have stopped or seriously reduced purchases of it?

#44 Post by Leah Amir »

Paul Klevgard wrote:
Leah Amir wrote:Slowed down all purchases across the board. I buy from a handful of wines from Fevre, Niellon, Bouchard and Boillot for short term drinking. No long term cellaring as I have been burned by premox too many times....
Leah,

Fevre and Bouchard appear to be good choices; I have no experience with Boillot. But I have had considerable trouble with Niellon, esp. his '99 premier crus. I would suggest Leflaive instead.

See you this month, I hope...

Paul

Hey Paul,

Thanks for the heads up on Niellon I will drink my bottles soon... Yes, let's do a dinner soon...

Leah

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Re: How many white Burgundy drinkers have stopped or seriously reduced purchases of it?

#45 Post by J a y H a c k »

I used to buy a fair amount of Meursault and the various Montrachets, with a smattering of others. Other than the case of Les Genevrieres I got at the 2005 Hospices de Beaune auction and a case of Corton Charlemagne I got in early 2006, and an occasional Chablis for current consumption, I have not bought any white Burgs in about 7 years. The Corton Charlies, by the way, were half 1999 and half 2000 from Magnien and none were premoxed.
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Re: How many white Burgundy drinkers have stopped or seriously reduced purchases of it?

#46 Post by NJBruce »

I think, given the extent of the problem, and the way so many people have been burned, that the poll should have a couple of categories between zero and "less than 50%".
My purchasing has gone down to around 10-15%, with, as Don points out, a switch in focuas, None of my money is going to the infamously premoxed domaine of Colin-Deleger (wisely now broken up and renamed among the sons and cousins). I wrote them (not in a nasty way), about 12 premoxed bottles of their Chevalier-Montrachet (1999 and 2000). Never acknowledged.
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Re: How many white Burgundy drinkers have stopped or seriously reduced purchases of it?

#47 Post by paul hanna »

Don Cornwell wrote:Mark:

I agree that the poll is flawed in one respect. There should have been an option for people who buy roughly the same amount but have changed the producers that they buy. Like Ian and Rainer and some of the others who have posted, I'm definitely in the "buy the same or more but switched the producers that I buy" category.
Agree here with Don 100%. I bought far less '06's (generally blah....), and far more '07's than any other white vintage (just so wow!). If I have to drink them a few years early, so be it. These wines tower over any other white in the world, IMHO....

And yes, I have dropped producers that burned me in the past, and surprisingly now with what I have left, rarely have had any problems....In fact, have only had one oxidized white in the last 4-5 months, and that was brought by someone else.

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Re: How many white Burgundy drinkers have stopped or seriously reduced purchases of it?

#48 Post by jcoley3 »

alan weinberg wrote:used to buy cases and cases of the stuff, mostly grand cru, a lot of premier cru Meursault. Now I buy just on occasion and a lot fewer bottles--more Riesling and Muscadet, Austrian whites.
alan
+1. Well, sort of. I bought scattered bottles of Grand Cru stuff (Mom said I should have been a Doctor!) and some 1er Crus, but what little I used to buy has mostly been replaced by Muscadet, Riesling and Gruner. Most White Burg I buy for me is Chablis nowadays.
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Re: How many white Burgundy drinkers have stopped or seriously reduced purchases of it?

#49 Post by Don Cornwell »

Steven Lipman wrote:Don

What about Fevre? I recently had the 2006 Les Clos which I thought was great. Would like to buy more from this producer.
Steven:

Fevre, which has the same ownership as Bouchard, falls in Category III--a producer with average oxidation rates (10%-15%) over the long haul. Fevre was particularly successful in 2000 --their first widely distributed vintage. There's virtually no reported oxidation on the 2000's. In 2001 Fevre was again very successful on the oxidation front and there's no reported oxidation to date. But in 2002, according to the wiki site, its on the order of 20+% of the bottles reported on. http://oxidised-burgs.wikispaces.com/Fevre. Personally, I've had about 10 bottles of the various 2002 Fevre grand crus so far and haven't come across any that I thought were oxidized or advanced.

2004 gives me some cause for concern. There are a few reports of oxidized bottles across Fevre's full range of 2004 wines. I experienced my first ever oxidized Fevre today -- a 375 ml bottle of 2004 Valmur. I just brought home a 12-bottle box of tenths of the 2004 Valmur. The bottle I opened yesterday was very good and exactly where I would expect it to be in a 375 ml bottle -- attractive, approachable flavors with bright acidity and minerality. But today, over lunch with a member of my burgundy group, a second bottle of the Valmur was clearly partially oxidized. It had light bright yellow color color, but the aromas were overwhelmingly dominated by sherry. The flavors were not as affected but the aromas made it essentially undrinkable. The fact that there are already other reports of oxidized 2004 Fevres in full sized bottles -- all tasted less than 6 years after the vintage -- isn't a particularly good sign.

For reasons I'm not clear on, Bouchard has a considerably better record on premox incidence than Fevre. I consider both producers to be in Category III, but Bouchard is at the low end of the incidence range while Fevre is higher (heavily weighted by the problems with 2002).

Like Bouchard, Fevre has made major changes since 2004. Starting with the 2006 vintage, Fevre and Bouchard both introduced ultra-low oxygen bottling lines. The target SO2 level was raised to 40 ppm beginning with 2006 (sorry, but I don't know what it was previously.) Fevre, like Bouchard, has changed cork suppliers and is buying only non-irrigated cork harvested less frequently. The corks are no longer bleached and are coated with 100% paraffin. Beginning with the 2007 vintage, the petit chablis, village chablis and all 375ml bottles are sealed with a "high quality synthetic cork" (diam). I am assuming, but have not yet been able to verify, that like Bouchard, Fevre is now weighing the corks on its grand crus to exclude low weight (i.e. low density and more porous) corks.

I certainly like all of these changes and I continue to buy Fevre's domaine-bottled wines myself.
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Re: How many white Burgundy drinkers have stopped or seriously reduced purchases of it?

#50 Post by Ian Fitzsimmons »

Brilliant piece, Don: thanks for your focus, leadership and research. Re: Fevre 2000: I had three oxidized 750 GC (Bougros Bouquerots) this year and need to put them on the wiki site.

I'm surprised about Jadot: I thought their reputation was one of a quality-conscious and well-led shop, especially where their whites are concerned. It takes an adjustment to think of them not fixing this problem. I've just bought a few of their 08 1er Pernand blanc, and will now drink them over the coming year, because of your analysis.

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Re: How many white Burgundy drinkers have stopped or seriously reduced purchases of it?

#51 Post by Don Cornwell »

Ian:

Thank you kindly. Yes, please post a note on the wiki site. The data is helpful.

I've really been astonished on Jadot too. Based on my experience with the 1995 to 1999 vintages, Jadot was one of the Category V producers. Like Leflaive, Coche, Raveneau, DRC and Leroy there was no difference in oxidation rates after 1994 vs. before. We then did three tastings of 2000's over a one year period and six of seven Jadots all from different cellars, including my own, were oxidized in a vintage where there was otherwise very little oxidation. The incidence on 2001 Jadot whites approaches 100% based on the reports. My experience with 2002 is approximately 50% oxidized and that's again from different cellars. There are lots of reports on the wiki site about premoxed 2002's as well. A good friend and former wine critic very recently reported that the 2004 Jadot's are starting to have major premox problems as well.
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Re: How many white Burgundy drinkers have stopped or seriously reduced purchases of it?

#52 Post by Ian Fitzsimmons »

That's discouraging; I was beginning to develop some brand loyalty for Jadot.

Is consensus developing yet on the genesis of the problem? I read Meadows's recent piece, reprinted in Cellar Tracker, which discusses the possible role of excessive sequestration of the must and young wine from atmospheric oxygen, beginning with the use of pneumatic presses. But I get the sense there was a kind of perfect storm of circumstances and changes in practices that opened the door to this form of taint.

Are there any hints that red wines may eventually be affected?

Thanks again.

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Re: How many white Burgundy drinkers have stopped or seriously reduced purchases of it?

#53 Post by David Gerstenfeld »

I have been so badly burned by the premox bug that I have reduced my white burg purchases by 90% Recently I had to dump THREE consecutive bottles of '02 Colin-Deleger Puligny Truffieres, totally dead. I now buy Leflaive, Coche, Raveneau and that's it. I look at the white burgs in my cellar as ticking time bombs waiting to go off. So sad.

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Re: How many white Burgundy drinkers have stopped or seriously reduced purchases of it?

#54 Post by Don Cornwell »

I. Fitzsimmons wrote:That's discouraging; I was beginning to develop some brand loyalty for Jadot.

Is consensus developing yet on the genesis of the problem? I read Meadows's recent piece, reprinted in Cellar Tracker, which discusses the possible role of excessive sequestration of the must and young wine from atmospheric oxygen, beginning with the use of pneumatic presses. But I get the sense there was a kind of perfect storm of circumstances and changes in practices that opened the door to this form of taint.

Are there any hints that red wines may eventually be affected?

Thanks again.
Ian:

The short answer is that there is no consensus yet as to cause and, if anything, there is a sharp disagreement among producers and the wine scientific community about the role of phenols in the premox process (that's really what Allen's article deals with.) This controversy includes whether pressing practices (which extract one type of phenols) contribute to oxidation and it also includes a deliberate technique to remove phenols from the must by withholding sulfites at the crusher and allowing the must to brown (i.e. for the phenols in the wine to oxidize) before beginning fermenation. This latter technique is known as hyper-oxidation or more gently referred to as "browning the must."

The redox chemistry involved is quite complex and the problem is that phenols (of which tannins are a subset) have both pro-oxidative and anti-oxidative properties. Further complicating the debate is the fact that there are two essentially separate types of oxidation that occur--the color changes that we observe in wine and associate with oxidation are produced by the oxidation of phenols in the wine [if the phenols are not first stripped out by performing hyper-oxidation or "browning the must".] The color changes have no significant connection with the development of sherry-like aromas and flavors, which result from oxidation of ethanol into acetaldehyde. So what is commonly referred to as premature oxidation or premox is actually two independent chemical processes which sometimes, but not always, coincide.

To further add to the confusion, some producers who engage in the "browning the must" technique, which is not always disclosed, claim that the use of the technique prevents or eliminates oxidation, when what they really mean is that the technique prevents color changes in the wine but does not prevent (and according to some may actually accelerate) the oxidation of ethanol into acetaldehyde. So for producers using this technique, it is quite possible to have a wine with a youthful-appearing brilliant color that reeks of acetealdehyde.

I really need to make some changes to the wiki site to spell some of this out, but believe me that it is diffucult to understand as well as controversial. I've been devoting a lot of time behind the scenes on this for the past several months, and I suspect I've just scratched the surface. For someone who is not a chemist (my last organic chemistry class was 39 years ago), it is difficult to absorb.

With respect to your question about red wines, the answer must certainly be "yes," but the extent of any impact on reds will depend on what causes of the premox problem in whites are identified and it will take many years longer before people start noticing any reduced cellar life for reds due to more frequent oxidiation. Reds are much less subject to oxidation than whites because they contain grape tannins and additional phenols that white grapes do not. While SO2 in red wines also helps prevent oxidation as it does in whites, it is only one of the barriers to oxidation in red wines rather than the ultimate barrier against oxidation as it is for whites. Since lessening SO2 levels accelerates eventual oxidation, yes, anyone who similarly reduced SO2 levels in their red wines will eventually find that that the wines will oxidize faster than they otherwise would have. But that impact is going to be much harder to judge because of the presence of the tannins and anthrocyanins in reds. Does it mean that a wine from a decent vintage that might otherwise have oxidized at say 35 years of age will now oxidize at say 32 years instead? Quite possibly. Obviously, no one is going to run long-term studies to figure that out, but the basic science alone tells you that if you reduce the SO2 level in the bottled wine, that wine, whether red or white, is going to oxidize faster than it otherwise would have with more SO2 added. The critical question with red wines is how much faster? Nobody has any idea at this point.

Similarly, to the extent that declining quality of corks (i.e. being more porous) or changes in cork treatments/coatings allow greater amounts of oxygen to into white wines resulting in oxidation, the same result will also necessarily impact reds bottled with those same corks, but it will take that much longer to express itself because the presence of the tannins and anthryocyanins are an additional buffer to the oxidation of the ethanol.
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Re: How many white Burgundy drinkers have stopped or seriously reduced purchases of it?

#55 Post by Roger Nellans »

Don Cornwell wrote:
.....With respect to your question about red wines, the answer must certainly be "yes," but the extent of any impact on reds will depend on what causes of the premox problem in whites are identified and it will take many years longer before people start noticing any reduced cellar life for reds due to more frequent oxidiation. Reds are much less subject to oxidation than whites because they contain grape tannins and additional phenols that white grapes do not. While SO2 in red wines also helps prevent oxidation as it does in whites, it is only one of the barriers to oxidation in red wines rather than the ultimate barrier against oxidation as it is for whites. Since lessening SO2 levels accelerates eventual oxidation, yes, anyone who similarly reduced SO2 levels in their red wines will eventually find that that the wines will oxidize faster than they otherwise would have. But that impact is going to be much harder to judge because of the presence of the tannins and anthrocyanins in reds. Does it mean that a wine from a decent vintage that might otherwise have oxidized at say 35 years of age will now oxidize at say 32 years instead? Quite possibly. Obviously, no one is going to run long-term studies to figure that out, but the basic science alone tells you that if you reduce the SO2 level in the bottled wine, that wine, whether red or white, is going to oxidize faster than it otherwise would have with more SO2 added. The critical question with red wines is how much faster? Nobody has any idea at this point.

Similarly, to the extent that declining quality of corks (i.e. being more porous) or changes in cork treatments/coatings allow greater amounts of oxygen to into white wines resulting in oxidation, the same result will also necessarily impact reds bottled with those same corks, but it will take that much longer to express itself because the presence of the tannins and anthryocyanins are an additional buffer to the oxidation of the ethanol.
Nice discussion Don. What a conplex issue. I observed an interesting thing a few days ago. I served a bottle of 98 Dujac MSD and 97 Adelsheim Eliz Res the other night. Both decanted and poured. Neither were outstanding wines, but the Dujac was clearly the better wine. Both bottles had 1/2 left, therefore vacuvined and returned to cellar at 55 degrees. 2 days later I brought out both bottles to try. The Dujac showed browning and was very oxidized, whereas the Adelsheim was perfect color, with no hint of oxidation and in fact was a much better wine then, than when originally opened. This will be difficult to repeat the exercise, as I rarely leave a bottle of Dujac without drinking the whole bottle. [cheers.gif]
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#56 Post by Ian Fitzsimmons »

Thanks, Don; for a non-chemist, you are really working the problem. You'd think if we can send a man to the moon ....

You'd think it wouldn't be that hard to sort the cause out with a bit of laboratory work, since the time of the onset of the problem can be pinned down, and the universe of possible causes is therefore limited. Are the scientists disregarding data offered by the winemakers? Are the winemakers unwilling to accept responsibility for practices that may imply liability? It's a puzzle.

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Re: How many white Burgundy drinkers have stopped or seriously reduced purchases of it?

#57 Post by Dale Williams »

I voted 50-70% , but that's # of bottles. $$$ wise I'm down further. All of my purchases now are for drinking soon- so mostly Bourgogne (Pernot, Matrot, Leflavie) and a few st Aubins etc- the rest is closeout village and 1er - but I drink them all now.

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#58 Post by Don Cornwell »

I. Fitzsimmons wrote:You'd think it wouldn't be that hard to sort the cause out with a bit of laboratory work, since the time of the onset of the problem can be pinned down, and the universe of possible causes is therefore limited. Are the scientists disregarding data offered by the winemakers? Are the winemakers unwilling to accept responsibility for practices that may imply liability? It's a puzzle.
The wine makers in burgundy are very protective of what they consider their proprietary data and methods. As far as I can determine, aside from an isolated university study here and there, the only studies being conducted on the issue are those by the burgundy trade organization, BIVB.

The BIVB studies do not involve, as best as Bill Nanson and I can determine, any systematic surveying or gathering of data from winemakers. I'm told that the winemakers simply wouldn't tolerate that and wouldn't cooperate. Many are concerned about potential liablity.

BIVB's studies involve looking at some specific suggested causes and testing the hypotheses as well as studying what happens to bottled wines over time. The latter process only began a few years ago, and you may recall a summary paper published by the BIVB, which was roundly criticized for its methodology, suggesting that there was no evidence of issues with corks and coatings after two years in the bottle. It was the fact that conclusions were being drawn after two years that caused the criticism. Moreover, what BIVB has usually published is not a complete study with supporting data that has been subjected to peer review, but rather "summaries" of their findings, which are more like press releases. Another such summary report, which was published in 2009, listed five or six factors which BIVB believes to be involved in oxidation and it included a very controversial statement decried by some winemakers that light pressing of grapes (and resulting lower phenol levels) was definitely contributing to premox. Several producers, including Roulot, decried this as nonsense.

Both Bill Nanson (author of Burgundy Report and periodic poster here) and I have formally requested copies of the studies that BIVB has done as well as access to the extranet that the winemakers are given access to. The latter request has been denied but they did promise last summer that they would make available several studies, including the one that included the controversial statements about pressing practices, "soon." We're patiently waiting.
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Re: How many white Burgundy drinkers have stopped or seriously reduced purchases of it?

#59 Post by Keith Levenberg »

Roger Nellans wrote:Nice discussion Don. What a conplex issue. I observed an interesting thing a few days ago. I served a bottle of 98 Dujac MSD and 97 Adelsheim Eliz Res the other night. Both decanted and poured. Neither were outstanding wines, but the Dujac was clearly the better wine. Both bottles had 1/2 left, therefore vacuvined and returned to cellar at 55 degrees. 2 days later I brought out both bottles to try. The Dujac showed browning and was very oxidized, whereas the Adelsheim was perfect color, with no hint of oxidation and in fact was a much better wine then, than when originally opened. This will be difficult to repeat the exercise, as I rarely leave a bottle of Dujac without drinking the whole bottle. [cheers.gif]
I don't think that says anything about the vulnerability of red Burgundy to premature oxidation. A '98 red Burgundy village wine can't be expected to last 2 days in a half-empty bottle and stay sound. As for the comparison to the Adelsheim: I have noticed that New World wines, for whatever reason, always seem to last longer in an open bottle without oxidizing than Old World wines of the same variety. I don't know why. But it's always like that.

I'm not especially afraid of my reds premoxing and I don't think there have been any reports of its happening. The 1995 white vintage was the first vintage with widespread reports of premature oxidation**, and 1995 reds are maturing exactly the way they ought to be. Ditto for all subsequent red vintages.

** Which is the strangest thing about all of this: you'd think it would not be hard to identify something that dozens of producers all started doing differently between 1993 and 1995. You'd also think that dozens of producers independently of one another wouldn't all have started doing something differently between 1993 and 1995. But there you have it.

Anyway, I'll start buying white Burgundy again when the ones I'm interested in are bottled under screwcap.

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Re: How many white Burgundy drinkers have stopped or seriously reduced purchases of it?

#60 Post by Lee Short »

I voted "stopped buying completely," even though I technically still buy a few bottles. In a typical year, I buy a few bottles for immediate consumption: Brun's bojo blanc, Chitry or basic Chablis, or Macon. But less than a case each year, and no Cote d'Or wines or high level Chablis. Bottle count is down probably 75%, dollar count is down at least 90%.

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Re: How many white Burgundy drinkers have stopped or seriously reduced purchases of it?

#61 Post by Robert Grenley »

I have gone from buying a fair amount of white burgundy, mostly upper level premiere crus and grand crus from top producers, to only buying bourgognes and the occasional well priced village or premier cru for early consumption...house wines, so to speak. The only upper level wines I buy to cellar at this point are Leflaive and Coche-Dury as I have had little to no premox issues with either so far, but these are necessarily in very small quantities due to price and scarcity. I have not found a substitute for what I enjoy in white burgundy, so I have tried to find lower level ones for early consumption that give me a little white burg "fix" to keep me going. I have wasted so many thousands of dollars on premox'd wines so far that I am done committing effort and dollars to searching these out. It just kills me when people post that they have had a 2007 white burg that is not showing premox...obviously they do not understand the typical time frame involved. It also burns me to read articles that say that part of the problem is wine drinkers not knowing what mature white burgundy tastes like , and they are erroneously calling premox what is actually just normal, mature white burgundy. In light of the scope of the problem, the number of producers who are still in denial, and the fact that the producers bear little to no financial burden for the flawed product that they are selling, such articles are completely countereproductive.

By the way, Don, thank you for the great summary of what you are finding. One note, every 2000 J. M. Pillot I have had has been oxidized, so I think their problem has stretched out to include the 2000 vintage as well. John Gilman has said on these boards that the Fevre wines from 2007 on should be more trustworthy...I hope so, because I have had nothing but problems with the few 2000's I have had and the many 2002's tasted recently. I will be digging into the 2004's next. And I agree, the Jadots have been a nightmare. They are so consistently pox'd that I think their whole regimen should be carefully studied, so as to serve as the ultimate example of how to make a premox'd wine. And I just recently heard from a friend who buys cases upon cases foe Leflaives that he is seeing premox in vintages after 2000...I hope he is wrong.
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#62 Post by Tom Blach »

I heard recently from a source that couldn't possibly be more authoritative that he suspects that some oxidised 96s are coming back from the dead and righting themselves. I have to say this seems to me unlikely bordering on impossible but I pass it on to see whether anyone else has encountered a similar phenomenon.
I agree with Keith-and would say that red Burgundy nearly always deteriorates seriously when left overnight no matter what precautions are taken, that's just the way it is.I am now relatively sanguine about the prospect of premoxed reds since it seems clear that corks are by no means the whole story in this white debacle.

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#63 Post by A Songeur »

Tom, Wine is a product from God!...
Anyway, I could not answer the poll since I am now buying a bit more than I used to! I guess I am from the "scientists" school that think that if producers are doing something about it, it may have an impact... and to add, I am trying to age the one I buy...
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Re: How many white Burgundy drinkers have stopped or seriously reduced purchases of it?

#64 Post by Frank Drew »

Don Cornwell wrote: The wine makers in burgundy are very protective of what they consider their proprietary data and methods.
The BIVB studies do not involve, as best as Bill Nanson and I can determine, any systematic surveying or gathering of data from winemakers. I'm told that the winemakers simply wouldn't tolerate that and wouldn't cooperate.
Both Bill Nanson (author of Burgundy Report and periodic poster here) and I have formally requested copies of the studies that BIVB has done as well as access to the extranet that the winemakers are given access to. The latter request has been denied but they did promise last summer that they would make available several studies, including the one that included the controversial statements about pressing practices, "soon." We're patiently waiting.
Could anything possibly be more maddening about this whole issue? Continuing to stonewall (no other word for it), years after the problem became too obvious to ignore.... this really validates Rick Gregory's hardline stand about not wanting to give any more money to people who've royally screwed their customers and refuse to accept responsibility.
Keith Levenberg wrote: Which is the strangest thing about all of this: you'd think it would not be hard to identify something that dozens of producers all started doing differently between 1993 and 1995. You'd also think that dozens of producers independently of one another wouldn't all have started doing something differently between 1993 and 1995. But there you have it.
Exactly; if we get an outbreak of, say, a food-borne illness in this country, maybe involving deaths, the CDC is all over it, sending out investigators all over the affected area until more often than not they can identify the exact taco stand where the problem began. The French need to sub this investigation out to some group sufficiently competent (and morally responsible) to handle it. IMO.

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Re: How many white Burgundy drinkers have stopped or seriously reduced purchases of it?

#65 Post by Ian Fitzsimmons »

Don Cornwell wrote:Many are concerned about potential liablity.
This is what I suspected, and quite natural, I guess. But the cost to the producers of this caution is a diaspora of long-time customers, and the response trend here shows.
Keith Levenberg wrote:You'd also think that dozens of producers independently of one another wouldn't all have started doing something differently between 1993 and 1995. But there you have it.
This huge coincidence should narrow the field of potential causes, and makes me wonder from time to time if there isn't some biological agent involved. Perhaps a yeast virus, or something equally esoteric.

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Re: How many white Burgundy drinkers have stopped or seriously reduced purchases of it?

#66 Post by Keith Levenberg »

I. Fitzsimmons wrote:
Keith Levenberg wrote:You'd also think that dozens of producers independently of one another wouldn't all have started doing something differently between 1993 and 1995. But there you have it.
This huge coincidence should narrow the field of potential causes
You'd sure think so!

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Re: How many white Burgundy drinkers have stopped or seriously reduced purchases of it?

#67 Post by Tom Blach »

As far as I can see producers are still selling out every vintage at ever increasing prices, which I think goes to show that the online wine world is a small one in relation to the total number of consumers.

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#68 Post by Claude Kolm »

Tom Blach wrote:As far as I can see producers are still selling out every vintage at ever increasing prices, which I think goes to show that the online wine world is a small one in relation to the total number of consumers.
Not so, Tom. Last year (or maybe it was already the year before that) was the first time in many years that I saw stocks of unsold Burgundy (red and white) in the cellars (not all, of course).
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#69 Post by Howard Cooper »

Keith Levenberg wrote: ** Which is the strangest thing about all of this: you'd think it would not be hard to identify something that dozens of producers all started doing differently between 1993 and 1995. You'd also think that dozens of producers independently of one another wouldn't all have started doing something differently between 1993 and 1995. But there you have it.

Anyway, I'll start buying white Burgundy again when the ones I'm interested in are bottled under screwcap.
It has always seemed to me that this has to be due to more than corks. I can think of three things that happened around this time:

1. Reduced sulfur use for health reasons.
2. Efforts by cork producers to reduce incidence of TCA.
3. And this has been less discussed than the first two: Verget getting big scores from the WA and others for 2002 Burgundies from the Cotes du Beaune and Chablis for wines that showed well right away.

We always discuss the first two, but I wonder how much of this has been due to #3, copying practices designed for early drinking wines.
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#70 Post by Don Cornwell »

Howard Cooper wrote:It has always seemed to me that this has to be due to more than corks. I can think of three things that happened around this time:

1. Reduced sulfur use for health reasons.
2. Efforts by cork producers to reduce incidence of TCA.
3. And this has been less discussed than the first two: Verget getting big scores from the WA and others for 2002 Burgundies from the Cotes du Beaune and Chablis for wines that showed well right away.

We always discuss the first two, but I wonder how much of this has been due to #3, copying practices designed for early drinking wines.
Howard:

One other thing occurred during that time period -- widespread adoption of computer-controlled presses. Bladder presses had been around previously, but not computer controlled ones that automated the pressing process. This figures into the debate about whether low extraction of phenols has contributed to oxidation. BIVB believes strongly that it has, but the issue is controversial (as well as beyond the scope of easy explanation.)

I think that the third factor played a huge role. Let me amplify this bit. While Robert Parker and other wine critics (Tanzer, Underground Wine Journal, Clive Coates, Wine Spectator) had been around for several years, critics didn't really drive mainstream wine sales until the early 1990's. Wine consumption in the US and other countries outside of France also started to explode about 1993. Wine was considered a healthy alternative to hard liquor or beer. The new consumers tended to be 25 to 40, with above average education. They looked for ways to educate themselves about this new interesting hobby and turned, naturally, to Wine Spectator and Wine Advocate. Your local retailers recognized and helped accelerate this trend by starting to post shelf talkers with notes from Parker or Wine Spectator. At the same time, European subscriptions to Wine Advocate started to happen.

One of the daunting issues to these new custoemrs was the idea that you had to buy the wines, store them, and wait years to enjoy them. So anybody who could produce wines that were immediately enjoyable had a potentially huge commercial advantage and the burgeoning popularity of the wine press meant there was a way to drive sales if the reviewers liked your wine and particularly if they said that it was immediately enjoyable.

So along comes JM Guffens who produces these very fruity wines which seem far more mature and enjoyable than their counterparts from burgundy because they've been produced with very little SO2 (and after 1993, no SO2) and they've been partially oxidized by extensive lees stirring (batonnage) that continued long after the malo-lactic fermentation was done. The finished wines taste like two or three year old wines at the time they are released. Parker goes crazy over the wines, annoints Verget as the new king of white burgundy, and every wine store and restaurant in America is suddenly asking for Verget.

To creat the perfect storm, a debate broke out in the US about the need for warnings about sulfites in foods -- particularly in wines and salad bars. The BATF ultimately issued a regulation requiring all wine labels to contain the warning "contains sulfites." Various articles about sulfites and low sulfite wines are published in the Wine Spectator and elsewhere. Big importers such as Chateau & Estates, then owned by Seagrams, began asking their producers about sulfites and what can be done to reduce sulfites.

Even the steadfast traditionalists got the message that they could sell a lot more wine if they could make their wines more attractive at an earlier stage and one of the ways to do that was to cut sulfite use. That also made the anti-sulfites crowd happy and some big importers happy -- no potentially offputting SO2 aromas and the wines will be attractive to drink sooner. And if you batonnaged the daylights out of the wine, the wine will be "enriched" by the added lees contact (and the aging process accelerated by the additional oxygen).

Christophe Roumier, that I've spoken to about this topic more than once, confirmed that he was urged to cut sulfite use by Chateau & Estates and that many young burgundy winemakers at this time saw the handwriting on the wall and convinced themselves that they could make wines which were more attractive early by reducing sulfite use and increasing batonnage. Allen Meadows has added the comment in Burghound that the new sorting tables that came into more widespread use in 1994-1996 also helped convince winemakers that with cleaner fruit they didn't need as much S02 for antiseptic purposes. It has been well documented by Allen Meadows, Steve Tanzer and others that there was a widespread reduction in the amount of SO2 utilized in the mid-1990's and a concurrent rise in the amount and length of batonnage.

What is sad is that these winemakers somehow convinced themselves that lowering the amount of SO2 use and increasing the oxygen exposure through additional batonnage wouldn't decrease the effective shelf life of the wine.

Today there are still a number of winemakers who are in denial about premature oxidation. I've know of at least one winemaker who, when forced to answer questions he didn't really want to answer, said that, basically its not his problem and his customers don't really want him to make longer lived wines because they won't be attractive early, and that almost 90% of his production is consumed within two years of release anyway.

My surmise is that those producers who are the most reluctant to discuss premox and the steps they are taking to combat it, believe that they are better off economically by not changing their techniques that favor early drinkability and result in premox. I believe they think they will sell more wine or more easily sell their wine by making wines that are immediately attractive to restaurant purchasers and that this outweighs the grief they get from wine geeks like us because the wines die prematurely. As long as they are able to sell through their production, they see no real incentive to change just to please us wine geeks.
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Re: How many white Burgundy drinkers have stopped or seriously reduced purchases of it?

#71 Post by Ian Fitzsimmons »

Your last line is the bottom line.

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#72 Post by Tom Blach »

Claude Kolm wrote:
Tom Blach wrote:As far as I can see producers are still selling out every vintage at ever increasing prices, which I think goes to show that the online wine world is a small one in relation to the total number of consumers.
Not so, Tom. Last year (or maybe it was already the year before that) was the first time in many years that I saw stocks of unsold Burgundy (red and white) in the cellars (not all, of course).
Interesting-but the fact that it's both colours implies that it's a vintage/economy thing rather than a premox reaction. I guess 06,07 and 08 are backed up in the same way as 00 and 01 were a few years ago when I seem to remember some producers and particularly negociants had problems. One hopes at least as far as the reds are concerned to see some easing in price as a result.

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#73 Post by Don Cornwell »

Tom Blach wrote:As far as I can see producers are still selling out every vintage at ever increasing prices, which I think goes to show that the online wine world is a small one in relation to the total number of consumers.
As far I can tell, premox has had an economic impact on only a few of the producers identified as the worst offenders. It had a huge impact on Verget, whose wines become virtually unsellable in the US. Sauzet has admitted that premox had an impact on their sales and it looks to have had an impact on their pricing as well because today Sauzet's grand crus are at a lower price point than some of their competition (and that didn't used to be true).

I also know that Fontaine-Gagnard has suffered a drop in sales as several merchants in Europe that used to purchase Fontaine-Gagnard have ceased doing so because of oxidation in the last two years. However, those losses might have been offset by others purchasing the wines as the critical reviews from Burghound the last three years have been favorable.
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Re: How many white Burgundy drinkers have stopped or seriously reduced purchases of it?

#74 Post by Rick Gregory »

Don Cornwell wrote: However, those losses might have been offset by others purchasing the wines as the critical reviews from Burghound the last three years have been favorable.
Ok, let's broach this one. Is it responsible for critics to continue to rate highly white Burgs from known problematic producers? Yeah, the wine tastes killer right now... but if we're talking premier or grand cru wines shouldn't the fact that the wines have a high chance of failing be mentioned or factored into the TN/score?
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Re: How many white Burgundy drinkers have stopped or seriously reduced purchases of it?

#75 Post by Don Cornwell »

Rick Gregory wrote:Ok, let's broach this one. Is it responsible for critics to continue to rate highly white Burgs from known problematic producers? Yeah, the wine tastes killer right now... but if we're talking premier or grand cru wines shouldn't the fact that the wines have a high chance of failing be mentioned or factored into the TN/score?
A major "Hot Button" issue for me. I do think it is irresponsible to give some of these wines, like Fontaine-Gagnard, unqualified 95 and 96 point scores when there's a unbroken history stretching back to 1995 of a very high incidence of premox in each vintage. Sure, the wines are wonderful when they're unaffected, but I find the oxidation rates completely unacceptable and have stopped purchasing Fontaine-Gagnard and divested the stock I purchased from 2004 and thereafter.

Rick, I agree with you completely. The reviewers each claim that they are offering buying advice to their readers. Accordingly, they should be disclosing in each appropriate instance that that there's a substantial history of premox with the producer in question and that the score, which is usually the reviewer's assessement of where the bottle will be at its peak, may never be achieved if the wine suffers from premox. Alternatively, the reviewer should simply stop visiting/rating the wines from producers with unacceptable oxidation track records and list the name of the estate with a notation that the wines weren't reviewed due to a lengthy past history of oxidation.

I've addressed this issue with all three of the major burgundy critics previously. Suffice it say that each comes up with explanations about why they're unwilling to do this (which seem to be motivated by concerns that the other critics might not do the same.)
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Rick Gregory
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Re: How many white Burgundy drinkers have stopped or seriously reduced purchases of it?

#76 Post by Rick Gregory »

Don Cornwell wrote:
Rick Gregory wrote:Ok, let's broach this one. Is it responsible for critics to continue to rate highly white Burgs from known problematic producers? Yeah, the wine tastes killer right now... but if we're talking premier or grand cru wines shouldn't the fact that the wines have a high chance of failing be mentioned or factored into the TN/score?
A major "Hot Button" issue for me. I do think it is irresponsible to give some of these wines, like Fontaine-Gagnard, unqualified 95 and 96 point scores when there's a unbroken history stretching back to 1995 of a very high incidence of premox in each vintage. Sure, the wines are wonderful when they're unaffected, but I find the oxidation rates completely unacceptable and have stopped purchasing Fontaine-Gagnard and divested the stock I purchased from 2004 and thereafter.

Rick, I agree with you completely. The reviewers each claim that they are offering buying advice to their readers. Accordingly, they should be disclosing in each appropriate instance that that there's a substantial history of premox with the producer in question and that the score, which is usually the reviewer's assessement of where the bottle will be at its peak, may never be achieved if the wine suffers from premox. Alternatively, the reviewer should simply stop visiting/rating the wines from producers with unacceptable oxidation track records and list the name of the estate with a notation that the wines weren't reviewed due to a lengthy past history of oxidation.

I've addressed this issue with all three of the major burgundy critics previously. Suffice it say that each comes up with explanations about why they're unwilling to do this (which seem to be motivated by concerns that the other critics might not do the same.)
Yeah well, I suppose backbone would be too much to ask. This is one reason I've not subscribed to any critic for 6 years and don't feel they're worth listening to. Look, if you as a critic are telling me to buy Wine X, that it's amazing and I can't trust you to also tell me "but there's a risk that Wine X will go bad within 5-7 years, so be aware of that." then why would I want their advice? I can't *trust* them. Literally. At that point, I have to ask what other things they're not saying and I don't want to have to play that game, so... no critics for Rick.
Dang Rick, I think that's right on the money. - K. John Joseph

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Robert Grenley
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Re: How many white Burgundy drinkers have stopped or seriously reduced purchases of it?

#77 Post by Robert Grenley »

I agree completely. As I have argued ad nauseum on other boards, the wine critics continue to rate the current releases in a vacuum, only presenting a snapshot view of how the wines are tasting from barrel or at bottling, with no mention of how that producer's wines are aging, what their track record is, if their wines are particularly affected by premox, etc. If a particular producer's wines are prone to an early death, you would never guess it from the 95's and 96's they will receive in their latest reviews. The wines critics never go back and reassess those wines and adjust their reviews, therefore there is no accountability, and therefore the reviews become increasingly worthless as a buying guide. After all of the hype regarding Verget, for example, how many remember reassessments of the Verget wines or discussions of the aging potential among wine critics. None that I can remember. Buying guide my rear end.
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Re: How many white Burgundy drinkers have stopped or seriously reduced purchases of it?

#78 Post by Frank Drew »

Howard Cooper wrote:
It has always seemed to me that this has to be due to more than corks. I can think of three things that happened around this time:

1. Reduced sulfur....
2. Efforts by cork producers ....
3. ... Verget getting big scores from the WA and others for 2002 Burgundies from the Cotes du Beaune and Chablis for wines that showed well right away.

... I wonder how much of this has been due to #3, copying practices designed for early drinking wines.
Howard, do you mean 1992? 2002 is quite late into this problem.

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Re: How many white Burgundy drinkers have stopped or seriously reduced purchases of it?

#79 Post by Ian Fitzsimmons »

Could anyone in the Austrian contingent suggest a good book or two, or a good web site, on these wines?

Thanks.

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Re: How many white Burgundy drinkers have stopped or seriously reduced purchases of it?

#80 Post by Steve Manzi »

JBierly wrote:Still buying - mostly PC and GC. I drink them young so premox hasn't been too much of a problem. I do have a few 99s that I intend to drink this year. But usually I only hold them a few years.
Bought a half case of Niellon Chevalier Montrachet, 1999....on release from top of the line retailer. This is before I knew anything about this Premox stuff.. Opened on in 2004. Delicious. Opened one in 2005.....showed signs of issues.

Very shortly after that, bottles were completely shot. I've not bought a single bottles since. Although I had outstanding bottles of '00 Chablis that I purchased on release. The Premox scared me enough to finish them off way too early.
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Re: How many white Burgundy drinkers have stopped or seriously reduced purchases of it?

#81 Post by blainemorris »

wow, what a passionate thread!

FWIW, I love and I'm drinking more white burgundy than ever. Completely geeked out on 08, love the 07s, appreciate the 06s, don't really care for the 05s, and have found the 04s to be among the most reliable white wines out there (though for me they're mostly gone). There have been a few stinkers, and I'm not up to the level of many on this board, but for me this is the greatest wine category out there...

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