TN: 2001 Fourrier Gevrey Chambertin Combe Aux Moines

Mike, I hate ‘pickle jar’ aromas in red burgundy even when others around me enjoy them-but the only poor bottle of Fourrier 01(out of probably 40 or so) I’ve opened, a CSJ, didn’t demonstrate this, just seemed rather dead. Being an unscientific sort I wouldn’t necessarily conclude that the appearance of what seems to be VA is permanent. Some people on the UK board have reported that underperforming 01s have corks that are soaked through but I haven’t come across that.

Tom,

I too am very sensitive to VA. However, I don’t mind it much in Sangiovese/Nebbiolo as it serves to sweeten the fruit and I couldn’t care less about other varieties which are infamous for it, like Grenâche and Tempranillo. Like you though, I don’t want it in my Bourgogne! I too have noticed quite a few uneven and soaked corks in the 1999-2002 era, which supports Jean-Marie Fourrier’s claim that he was sold underpar corks by his supplier.

I have had terrible luck with '01 Fourriers (overly mature, VA etc) over the past few years. Meanwhile the '02s seem to be maturing properly which seems consistent with J-M’s cork explanation.

Mike-

I don’t doubt your experiences or that of Tom and Don, accomplished wine tasters all.

I just don’t understand how a bottle has a VA problem. A wine, a batch, or a barrel yes, b This doesn’t square with my understanding of how the biochemistry works. Granted, I am not a biochemist by training but am of a scientific bent.

I accept that I could be wrong, but I need someone to point out how VA will get into some bottles of the same wine and not others.

So, is the hypothesis that Fourrier always has higher than normal VA, but that the closures in 2001 allowed more contact with oxygen which amplified the effects?

Nathan,

Here is my understanding of the phenomena.
Others may give you a better one.

All pinot has some level of acidity that is disolved and a certain level of volatile products that will pass muster.

There are also other products present with a potential to become volatile with oxidation. Ethyl alcohol being a big one.

With closure failure, oxygen is allowed to go into the bottle and overwhelms any antioxidant such as sulfur that might be present.
The resulting oxidation then works its magic on the ethanol producing acetic acid and acetate esters as byproducts . (This is coordinated by the trace amounts of acetobacter that are present in nearly every wine. )These compounds have very low sensory thresholds for most people and are detected as volatile acidity. This higher level of volatility was not present until the closure failed so it would be random as observed not a whole batch.

Hope this makes sense.

That is an explanation I can wrap my head around. Thanks.

My last 2001 CSJ tonight.
This one is so nice.
There is some sous bois on the nose. The fruit with time gets an incredible focus. Intense.
Wonderful stuff.

This note inspired me to open a bottle of the same wine last night. Really good depth and texture to it: as Alan says, grand cru. Very plush cherry core to the wine, but no heaviness or clumsy sweetness, and cut with a garrigue like herbal note. Delicious.

This is the sixth of these I have had. I’d say two have been this good, two have been flawed, and two just a little less good. Like many here, I particularly like the Combe aux Moines out of the very strong Fourrier line up.

opened another bottle tonight–just an “at random” opening–this bottle wasn’t nearly as good. It had a weird acidity and sourness that finally dissipated, but it never developed the gorgeous flavors of the prior tastings. “Pickle jar” or “pickle juice” is probably a very good description. Funny that it’s from the same batch as the prior two outstanding bottles. We didn’t finish it, a bit unusual for a Friday night, but it kind of sucked . . .
alan

I had a disappointing bottle of the '01 Combe Aux Moines last year, and have one more, so I think I’ll do the deed soon. Also down to my last bot of '01CSJ, a wine I have never experienced any problem with, although many others have. I might as well do that deed as well, no sense pushing my luck. I have 6 bots remaining of the '01 Chambolle-Musigny Gruenchers. It is a very lovely wine. Each of the 6 consumed has been a textbook example of Chambolle delicacy and lace. I’m fast-tracking those as well. It is unfortunate that I feel I need to rush through these 2001’s and probably my '99 and '96 bottles as well. I’m not planning to accelerate my 2002 and newer vintages so much, but will check '02s soon as I have quite a few. I dearly hope the '01 problem was sub-par corks and has been corrected from 2002 on.

I’ve finished my six of these. From memory three were great, three not right.

Here’s hoping for better odds in future years…

An 01 Gruenchers last week was riddled with VA - totally undrinkable.

fascinating updates, gents. for a while, the story was that only the CSJ was affected, but seems other are too.

i have 1 more CSJ from 2001 and will pop it at some point, but not holding out much hope.

i did have a 2002 CSJ recently and it was approaching profound. just entering its secondary phase, seemed very light upon opening, but became very rich and long as it took air. stupendous wine and the soil elements were blasting through on the nose.

I’ve opened two bottles of the Gruenchers in the last year out of fear because of all the reports of problems in the 01 Fourriers. Both have been stupendous. The most recent, drunk a month ago at Chelsea Wine Storage, was getting better and better three hours after decanting. Everyone there was extolling its virtues. No faults whatsoever. I’m just sorry I drank them both so soon because they need more time to show their best.

Nathan –

In addition to the closure variable, heat accelerates the acetobacter. VA can emerge in a refrigerated bottle that’s been open, but it sure slows it down. Temperature differences in shipping and storage along the way could certainly explain why some people have had better luck than others.

If there are variations within the same case, however, as Alan reports, that suggests a cork issue.

As do I, as I recently bought some of the 07 and 08 Gevrey VV, Combes and Sorbes for cellaring. The recent 07 Sorbes, 08 Cherbaudes and 07 GC VV that I have enjoyed all seemed fine. I have some 05 GV CC in the pipeline too–should I be concerned about the 05s?

Cool. I was thinking of grabbing a 2002 out of storage and will do so today.

I’ve had one terrible CSJ, though it was certainly not volatile. A more recent one was fine though more muted than it had been but a recent Griotte was nothing short of magnificent. Village cuvees and Morey Clos Sorbes unproblematic here at least.

And that’s been my experience John - prior bottles of Gruenchers were excellent but this one was not. And all came from the same case.