Gray market wine. Should I be worried?

Finally got some pre-arrivals from a local well known (oft cited on this board) merchant and popped one each of the Borgogne and Chambolle villages.

My concern is the condition of the cork from the Chambolle villages. These are 2010’s. The cork was soaked through and fair amount of mold on under the capsule. The rest of my cases are off-site so I don’t have access to them right now. The wine seems fine but what flavors or color should I look for in a wine exposed to excessive heat?

Or, is this much ado about nothing?

Yes, be worried.

That is a poor condition cork for a 2010. When were they shipped to you? You note you just received but it is the middle of summer.

No, picked up from the merchant and transported right to my cellar in an air conditioned car (though summer in San Francisco is quite cool)

What did the wine taste like ?

It tastes fine. Seems fresh as a daisy. There is the typical pretty chambolle nose with a nice grip on the palate supporting a really enticing red fruit profile, lingering finish. Exactly what I’d expect from a good quality village wine.

What was the ullage of the bottle? Some/many burgs are bottled with almost no ullage…in those cases it takes almost nothing for wine to move up the cork. I wouldn’t be esp worried about that. If there was sufficient ullage then that’d be more worrying.

I bought some as well, so will let you know how mine turn out. In fact, I’ll see if I can pick them up this week.

The ullage seemed about normal, maybe a cm of head space, but I didn’t take particular notice, unfortunately.

Probably a coincidence, but the identical cork conditions happened to me last year with the same H-N btls (bourg and CM), except they were '09s bought from a big chicago retailer. CM cork was drenched, bourg was fine. CM tasted a little soft vs. expectations. Bourgogne importer is chicago-based; CM btl not readily available to check. Will try another CM soon.


I will say, the wine tired over the course of the evening, the tannins faded significantly and the fruit took on a more subdued, darker profile. I don’t have a lot of experience with cooked wines, nor do I with this particular bottling. Eric, I’ll be curious to hear your impressions. What makes me more worried is I have 11 more bottles of this, and some Suchots and 1er NSG from the same order. Hmmmm

If the wine tasted fine, you shouldn’t be worried. With the wine being a 2010 and soaked through like that, it would appear the wine was exposed to excessive heat but fared ok. Or, is it possible that the cork was flawed and didn’t seal adequately at bottling?

If a single bottle, could be an outlier/leaker. If more than 1 in a case, be worried.
Charles uses crazy good cork, even for villages.
Gray market=sucks.

It depends on how long you plan to age it. If for a short time, 6 months or so, I would not worry. If for years, I would worry.

My 2010 NSGS were like this as well, with one a leaker. The fills were very high, but through 2 out of 3 just in case and this thread has reminded me to finish the third. Also wondering I if I need to cut the capsule on my other 10s.

If the taste is good, no need to worry. Maybe it was not corked proper, or maybe it just leaked a bit. Bon Appetite! newhere

I have no view of the soundness of the wine, but what does gray market have to do with it? Lots of non-gray market wines are treated like crap in transit; lots of gray market wines are coddled. I’d say that factor is irrelevant

Overstatement, IMO. Sometimes, official importer=sucks.

Broadly speaking, yes, the industry can treat any wine like crap.
But for this tier of quality, direct channels are far more sound. Charles doesn’t work direct with the kind of importers who would treat his wine like Yellow Tail. Buying his wine gray, who the hell knows.
The higher in quality/artisanality, one is very very likely to be dealing w conscientious direct importers. That’s why it is different than just speaking in general about the industry at large.

I agree that you can’t really make a broad assumption that gray market wines suck and those that aren’t must be good. However, take an importer such as Kermit Lynch. I’d expect these bottles to be treated well from producer to my cellar. I’d be much lesss worried with this single bottle at this point, though still with the mind to check in on the other bottles. Naturally, after waiting a couple of years for bottles that have been on the market for awhile now suggests an ill-defined provenance.

It seems relevant to me, Neal.