Premature Oxidation


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There were reports in the wine press last week about premature oxidation in red wine but this problem in white wine, specially in Burgundy, has been talked about since the mid 1990s without a plausible explanation as to what causes it. Extreme vine stress resulting in insufficient glutathiones which function as antioxidants during fermentation, low doses of SO2, excessive batonnage, poor quality corks etc. have been implicated.
I have had more than my fair share of oxidised wine, mainly from Chablis, a region I visit regularly to taste and buy, mainly from three well established and respected producers – William Fevre, Jean Marc Brocard and Domaine Long-Depaquit. The first serious problem with premature oxidation was with Brocard’s 2007s, both Premier and Grand Crus. The wines began to brown within a few years and were soon undrinkable. Many of my wine loving friends who accompany me on buying trips reported similar problems. Then came the 2007 vintage of Chablis Premier Cru Fourchaume from Domaine Seguinot Bordet – a small family producer in the village of Maligny. I visited him for the first time soon after the 2007 vintage was bottled and bought and cellared a significant quantity of wine which I tasted and liked. Premature oxidation in the wine was appeared a few years later. I reported the problem to the winery and received a surprisingly frosty response stating that such problems wetre ‘impossible’ with the Domaine’s wines! They demanded proof of purchase and samples of oxidised wine. I wondered whether they had ever heard of premature oxidation that has been a hot topic in the wine trade for over a decade!
It was a great pleasure and indeed relief to open a bottle of Chablis Premier Cru Fourchaume 2007 from Domaine Seguinot-Bordet yesterday and find a honeyed wine with poise, an attractive golden yellow colour and perfumed nose. I had no difficulty in finishing the bottle which gave me considerable pleasure.
I did not visit the Domaine or buy their wines on subsequent visits to Chablis but still have many more bottles of the 2007 Fourchaume in the cellar. I am keeping my fingers crossed!
PS: Today I returned with relish to an article by Dr. Jamie Goode on Premature Oxidation published in the December 2006 issue of World of Fine Wine.
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