Matchstick reduction

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Tariq K
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Matchstick reduction

#1 Post by Tariq K » January 4th, 2019, 5:13 pm

Having an Oregon Pinot Noir this evening with some slight reductive sulfur notes (Failla Bjornson 2016). Not enough to be problematic but enough that I notice - and potentially a sign that this might resolve into some appealing complexity in the future.

I've seen the term "matchstick reduction" used previously; also I've seen Raj Parr write about Tissot-Like Reduction or Coche-Like Reduction. Are these terms commonly used only for white wines? Or is this something that I could use to describe this red? If that's not the right term, what would be?

The wine, by the way, was delicious.

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Steve Slatcher
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Re: Matchstick reduction

#2 Post by Steve Slatcher » April 19th, 2019, 6:29 am

I am sure I originally learned that "matchstick" was SO2 - indicating that the wine has been over-sulphured. And reduction initially gives H2S - a bad egg smell.

I have since read dissenting views and have not been able to find anything I trust as truly definitive, but I tend to believe what I read originally.

Either way, both can blow-off in a decanter, and both can disappear or improve with age, though if the H2S is too strong it can also evolve to give pretty foul odours.

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Otto Forsberg
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Re: Matchstick reduction

#3 Post by Otto Forsberg » May 2nd, 2019, 3:47 am

To my understanding, the struck matchstick smell is just a hint of reduction. Not all reductive notes are skunky - you need quite a bit of reduction for the wine to get skunky. I've had multiple natural wines with no SO2 whatsoever and still showing some struck matchstick and flint smoke character. Also, to my best understanding, the smoky matchstick / flint tones of Chablis, Northern Rhône Syrah or even young Dom Pérignon are typically because of reduction - and no-one in their right mind would call the wines "skunky" because of the said aromas.

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Jason T
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Re: Matchstick reduction

#4 Post by Jason T » June 25th, 2019, 7:11 am

Tariq touched on something that I’d love to hear from others on- he mentioned that the reduction might lead to more complexity in the future. My impression is that reduction is an aspect completely separated from the quality and potential complexity of the finished wine, and thus is not an indicator of anything other than that the wine is... showing reduction. Thoughts from others?
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Geoff F.
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Re: Matchstick reduction

#5 Post by Geoff F. » July 10th, 2019, 9:55 pm

Several of the chardonnays I picked up on a recent trip to Oregon have a fair amount of matchstick reduction, which I enjoy, but some of my friends do not. It can dominate the nose by suppressing all the fruit. Should I just plan on giving the wines lots of air before serving?
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Otto Forsberg
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Re: Matchstick reduction

#6 Post by Otto Forsberg » July 11th, 2019, 6:04 am

Geoff F. wrote:
July 10th, 2019, 9:55 pm
Several of the chardonnays I picked up on a recent trip to Oregon have a fair amount of matchstick reduction, which I enjoy, but some of my friends do not. It can dominate the nose by suppressing all the fruit. Should I just plan on giving the wines lots of air before serving?
Normally double-decanting an hour or two prior to tasting/drinking the wines has been enough for me.

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Roy Piper
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Re: Matchstick reduction

#7 Post by Roy Piper » July 11th, 2019, 6:19 pm

Jason T wrote:
June 25th, 2019, 7:11 am
Tariq touched on something that I’d love to hear from others on- he mentioned that the reduction might lead to more complexity in the future. My impression is that reduction is an aspect completely separated from the quality and potential complexity of the finished wine, and thus is not an indicator of anything other than that the wine is... showing reduction. Thoughts from others?
Oxygen is the enemy of wine. The more oxygen after completion of fermentation, the more aging, and sooner. Reductive winemaking, that is, winemaking with less oxygen, can sometimes result in longer-lived wines for the inverse of that reason. But it all depends on when the oxygen is used/not used. Sometimes reduction can be a sign there was not enough air during primary fermentation. That kind of reduction probably wont help aging. But less air once in barrel can possibly help aging.

For example, I don't rack my Cabs nowadays at all until I sense strong reduction, no matter how long that takes. This means that until the wine is asking for air, I don't give it any. My 2017 had one racking in 20 months, before bottling. I make my Cabs to last a long, long time. Syrah and Pinot often do not get racked in their 10-14 months in barrel for most winemakers I know. If they racked those wines every 3 months like UC Davis seems to think Cabs should be, they would be oxidized messes, in my opinion. Syrah in particular... SQN and Cayuse? Those wines are heaaaavily "reduced." It's part of the style. They should age very long times at least partially because of that.

My first released Cab, the 2010, has a bit of that meaty Syrah-styled reduction due to not enough air during fermentation. Its 9 years old and only 1/2 of that smell has gone away. A lot of people love it. I realize it needed more air. What one can get away with in Syrah is not the same thing one can get away with in Cab and Pinot and other varietals.
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Roy Piper
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Re: Matchstick reduction

#8 Post by Roy Piper » July 11th, 2019, 6:21 pm

PS- I've always suspected that lees stirring during malo is a major cause of PREMOX in white burgs. I would be curious to know if lees stirring happens in those wines suffering from that. It's the only way I can see oxygen destroying those wines so early.
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Karl K
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Re: Matchstick reduction

#9 Post by Karl K » July 11th, 2019, 8:16 pm

Appreciate the comments, Roy.
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Jason T
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Re: Matchstick reduction

#10 Post by Jason T » July 11th, 2019, 8:40 pm

Yes, thanks for the response Roy.
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robert creth
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Re: Matchstick reduction

#11 Post by robert creth » July 14th, 2019, 9:11 am

I had this issue with a few Ridge Estate Chardonnays. The matchstick- sulfur nose was, to me, overpowering and I returned it. The replacement was the same and I tried a splash decant and let it sit for a few hours. Still smelled of struck matches. Could not get past it.

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