Monday, June 15, 2009

Color, Quality, and Ageability of White Burgundy

Someone, please straighten me out. Though I am in the retail wine trade, I have had precious little experience with older (15 or more years after vintage, by my definition) white Burgundy. The reason I mention this today is that a customer had purchased an assortment of 25 bottles of '89 and '90 Francois Jobard Meursault (some Genevrieres, Blagny, Poruzots) and had someone pick it up for them. Upon observing the slightly deeper yellow color of the bottles of 1990 Meursault Blagny 1er Cru, the person responsible for the pick-up became concerned about the quality of the wine. He requested that I open one bottle and we taste. Fair enough, I thought. While he found the wine to show oxidative, sherry qualities, I just found it to have really harsh, bitingly disjointed acidity and not a whole lot more complexity. Of course, at this point the guy was concerned that he'd get an earful for picking up a few mixed cases of oxidized white Burgundy (even though it was Jobard, for a killer price, from an ideal cellar we recently had acquired). He proceeded to observe the color of the remaining bottles and convince himself that instead of merely the five bottles of 1990 Meursault Blagny, most if not all of the others showed too deep and advanced a color.

So the question that begs to be asked: How indicative is a slightly darker yellow (as opposed to light golden straw) color in 20 year old white Burgundy of a sub-par bottle? Are there particular probabilities at play here? Or is the issue of color really overrated? I mean, correct me if I'm wrong but 20 year old white wine will take on a deeper, more golden hue (or, if you will, 'alligator piss color' in the words of my customer today).

Incidentally, I came back to the 1990 Francois Jobard Meursault Blagny later in the day, and it showed considerably better. The acidity had mellowed, there was more richness, texture, intensity and balance on the mid-palate, and I was beginning to wonder why I hadn't purchased at least a bottle or two for myself.

Experienced Burgundy nuts and assorted wine geeks, if you could sound off here I would much appreciate it.

1 comment:

WildBill said...

This drinking of 'old bones' is a strange deviant behavior of Brits. To best learn of this vice either talk to Dr. George Litton former wine shop owner in the SF Bay Area and prof at UC Davis Vet school or read Bill Nanson's 'Burgundy Report.' I would rather drink old white Graves from more upscale producers such as Haut-Brion or Domaine de Chevalier. Did have a Potel 1999 Nuits St. Georges Blanc recently-curious but tough to match with anything but ripe cheeses.