I’ve never been under the impression that a Stelvin/screw cap closure was 100% air tight. I’ve always thought they did allow oxygen in/out — is it actually air tight?
I’m also a big fan of whatever that technical cork is that Ponsot uses (both Domaine & Laurent). I’ve never had a wine under that closure that did not show exactly as expected. There’s obviously a lack of long term data with the closure, but I’m glad somebody is pushing for innovation. It’s unacceptable that the world’s most expensive wines are lottery tickets (for no reason other than inertia) when we have the technical expertise to make them not so.
At least with the Ramey Chards development has been as expected with an increase in consistency. Haven’t had an advanced or corked bottle in any vintage since the change to DIAM a decade ago.
The Ramey wines are a really nice example of just how great DIAM corks are.
Bit of a drift, and I’m late to the party so maybe this has been discussed earlier, but is anyone aware of a winery switching back from screw cap after adopting it? I ask because I can only think of one – Carlisle moved away from screw cap on some of the appellation wines and the white wines and went to DIAM. Totally cool, in my eyes, but it made me think I hadn’t seen that before.
I generally feel like wine ages slower under diam. Or maybe I’ve just had too many advanced or poxed whites.
I have had bottles of Bourgogne Blanc from Bernard Moreau that used DIAM 5. Have not seen it on any of their higher end bottles, but have not had any wines from either of the two domaines since the brothers went their separate ways.
Stelvin liners vary in oxygen transmission. The tightest one is air tight, then there are several other liners with varying (but consistent) levels of oxygen transmission.
Diam has also developed corks that have different levels of oxygen transmission, so that a producer can decide what is best for the individual wine. The problem with bark cork is that the variability within a batch is enormous; the best examples are perfect, as we have all experienced, but there is way too much variability.
I have a technical paper with an excessive amount of detail about this if anyone’s interested, PM me. Graphs and a discussion of the issues with both bark cork and Diam stoppers.
We are pushing our producers to us Diam or even to move to screwcaps, but there is a lot of resistance to screwcaps in the Italian home market. Some producers are doing it just for us, though.
I know Robert Craig switched to DIAM.
The producer that i have had the longest diam experience with has been Fevre. It has been wonderful to eliminate premox in these wines, but I have also seen very little evolution in most of the diam closed wines. (For those new to this, they’ve been using in PC’s since 2007–actually a few in 2006–and since 2010, everything is under diam including GC’s). I’ve wondered if the extra long diam 10’s that they use might be overkill, and have wondered what the wines would be like under 5’s, or even under normal length tens. The estate has been very careful and forward thinking about this, so perhaps they’ve done some wines under 5’s in the back room? Does anyone know more about this?
No additional info on Fevre, but Steve Edmunds has been using DIAM for many years (started with the 2009 Rocks & Gravel IIRC). He used DIAM 5 on the 2009 R&G and it has developed very well, and continues to show well 14 years post vintage.
As a supporter of DIAM, and a mortal enemy of premoxed wines, this brings to mind some questions:
- Even though the wines under DIAM apparently remain pristine and free from premox, do they develop the characteristics of maturity after 10-15 years as we might have expected our WB’s to do in the pre-premox vintages such as those in the 80’s and early 90’s? Hey, I’d rather have pristine than dump them down the drain, but I have not had experience tasting older bottles under DIAM to know the answer.
I suspect that some of us would view “develop the characteristics of maturity” differently., and I think that DIAM, because it definitely slows down the oxidation process, is going to extend the dated of expected “maturity” for a lot of these wines. We are only beginning to have real world data to answer the question of how the wines develop under DIAM. In 2009, the only notable producers using DIAM were Montille and Bouchard. While I tasted the 2009 Montille Corton Charlemagne at our (formerly) annual vintage assessment dinners in 2017 and was impressed, that wine wasn’t yet “mature.” I had actually cellared the 2009 Bouchard MP, Chevalier Montrachet and Montrachet and they were all doing very well in 2019 and 2020 when I drank most of them. I was very happy with their development. I only had two bottles of 2009 Bouchard Montrachet. We drank the first one in 2017 at the vintage assessment dinner, and the second bottle was opened in March of 2021 and it was absolutely spectacular.
For the 2010 vintage, Fevre joined the party as did F&L Pillot. I only owned two bottles of the 2010 Fevre Clos and they were opened in 2018 (at the vintage assessment dinner) and one in 2020. Those were the most impressive Fevre bottles I had tasted in years (due to the premox problems), but I didn’t have another one to let it age more.
But I did own (and still own) 2010 Bouchard MP, Corton Charlemagne, Chevalier Montrachet and recently consumed my last bottle of 2010 Montrachet. All were (and still are) very impressive. I think that the 2010 MP, opened last weekend is probably at or near its peak. The Corton Charley is still in my offsite storage cellar. The Chevalier is exceptionally good but [updated] has probably peaked. The Montrachet (opened in April) was another exceptional bottle.
We have been enjoying a lot of 2011 whites at home this year, including wines from Bouchard, Montille, and Jadot closed with DIAM. 2011 is a smaller-scaled vintage from a richness/density perspective, but it has exceptional minerality and very good acidity. I really like the 2011 vintage today. 2011s under cork are doing better on average than their 2010 counterparts at 12 years old.
The view from my window is that DIAM is an unqualified success.
I had 2 bottles under Diam last year. A 14 Lafon Genevrieres which was amazing. The 14 Jadot Chevalier was still closed IMO and need at least 5 lore years.
For comparison, I pulled out a 2010 Bouchard Chevalier Montrachet tonight. Medium plus gold color; citrus and faint green apple aromas. The flavors seem fully developed, some citrus and minerals but quite a bit of mid-palate fat like Batard, but there is enough acidity to keep things interesting. This bottle has hit its peak or perhaps is slightly beyond it, but it is still excellent. In comparison, the recent 2010 MP seemed slightly less developed.
Thanks, Don. Those examples are all very helpful. I presume most of those wines had diam 10’s?
I also am a huge fan of the diam corks. The question Robert has, and the one I have as well, is will these wines evolve into what we were all used to with a non-premoxed 15 year old Chevalier, or les Clos, in the old days. Have the estates developed a feel for the right diam, with the right lower amount of sulfur, for the wines to age “properly” (whatever that is). Many of the Fevres that I have had under diam haven’t seemed to age much at all since 2010. I would take that in a heartbeat over premox, but I’m wondering if the wines should be under fives, or if diam should be putting out a 7.5, etc. This is going to take quite a while to sort out, but I’m wondering if some folks are already making some adjustments.
(I realize re-reading that you’ve already basically answered this, but it will be an interesting ongoing question).
Your point about Fevre is a good one. Prior to 2009/2010 Montille and Fevre were among the absolute worst performers from premox perspective. (Bouchard, who converted to DIAM in 2009, had a much lower incidence of premox in my view, but they converted because of common ownership with Fevre and the belief the organization had in DiAM.)
Beginning with the 2006 vintage, Fevre and Bouchard were both using new bottling lines that introduced zero oxygen into the bottle, and Fevre had set the target for free SO2 at bottling was 40 ppm. When they began using DIAM (2007 for some wines, 2010 for all wines including grand crus), it is my understanding that both Fevre and Bouchard continued to use the same free SO2 amounts at bottling that they had recently been using (i.e. in Fevre’s case, 40 ppm free at bottling). I don’t know for how many vintages Fevre continued to use 40 ppm of free SO2 with DIAM closures.
As more producers began using DIAM an issue arose – if the oxygen transmission rates were seriously reduced with DIAM, which meant slowing the rate of oxidation, could/should the producer also reduce the amount of free SO2?
By the time that the 2014 vintage came out, some producers were clearly reducing their free SO2 use because of adopting DIAM. From my personal perspective, unless the wines seemed excessively reductive (which I have not experienced), it didn’t seem to make a lot of sense to me. Domaine Leflaive, who had massive premox problems with the 2006 through 2012 vintages, adopted DIAM 30 with 25 ppm of free SO2 in 2014 (lower than free SO2 than many). But in the next vintage (2015) Leflaive cut the free SO2 levels (to 15-20 ppm if I recall correctly). The DIAM 30 with very low free SO2 struck me as ridiculous.
The details about reductions in SO2 levels after adoption of DIAM or changes in DIAM types is relatively scarce.
I’ve been using DIAM for almost 15 years now and absolutely love them. We are bottling all Hanzell wines under DIAM using both 10’s for Sebella and 30’s for our Heritage wines. I did some trials ten+ years ago on SO2 and didn’t see a significant difference on how they aged or any reduction at the higher free or total S02 levels. But, the wines were not “reductive” to start with☺️. Also, remember, “free S02” levels are only a small variable and relative so when you hear arbitrary numbers like 25 parts or 40 parts, it really has no meaning unless combined with total S02, PH, and dissolved oxygen. Sulfides or disulfides and the permeability differences with DIAM is a whole other issue.
The only downside I have encountered is that the 30’s especially, are a bit difficult to extract for our members who are getting up there in age or have arthritis etc. Other than that, I have never had more consistency under any other closure.