Pinot Decanted?

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Pinot Decanted?

Postby AaronW » Fri Sep 22, 2006 4:10 am

Decantation seems to be quite a subjective subject.

I've never decanted for sediment removal, but have for aeration purposes. I read somewhere that decanting Burgundies or any Pinot based wine is detrimental to the varietal character. I have a Burgundy or two and several New World Pinot's and wouldn't want to improperly serve them (to myself OR anyone else). Is it the "Kiss of Death" to pour any of these into a decanter or is this "Pinot Murder" business just a bunch of poppycock?
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Re: Pinot Decanted?

Postby Robin Garr » Fri Sep 22, 2006 9:00 am

AaronW. wrote:Decantation seems to be quite a subjective subject.

I've never decanted for sediment removal, but have for aeration purposes. I read somewhere that decanting Burgundies or any Pinot based wine is detrimental to the varietal character. I have a Burgundy or two and several New World Pinot's and wouldn't want to improperly serve them (to myself OR anyone else). Is it the "Kiss of Death" to pour any of these into a decanter or is this "Pinot Murder" business just a bunch of poppycock?


Aaron, that's an interesting question! You are correct that decanting is a debatable wine-geek issue, and personally, I tend NOT to do it except in the relatively unusual circumstances of (1) wines with heavy sediment, like Vintage Port, or (2) wines that I know to be immature and in need of aeration. I don't do it for most everyday wines or for mature wines.

The only "Kiss of Death" I know of - and even this is subject to debate - is the concern that a very old, fragile wine might fall apart upon rapid exposure to air, and thus should be protected from aeration.

As for Pinot Noir, I do find that it tends to *change* more with air exposure than some other varieties, but this change is often for the better. That would suggest that aeration might be a good thing. But it's also an unpredictable thing, which circles me back to my personal don't-do-it perspective: I'd rather watch the wine evolve in the glass than have it do so quietly in the decanter while I'm not paying attention.
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Re: Pinot Decanted?

Postby Sam Platt » Fri Sep 22, 2006 9:50 am

Aaron,

I think it's difficult to have a "one size fits all" approach to decanting Burgundy. Some Burgs (young Volnay) really benefit from it, and some (10 year old Clos de Vougeot) seem to go flat very quickly in a decanter. I tend to error on the side of not decanting, but I try to remain flexible.
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Re: Pinot Decanted?

Postby Carl Eppig » Fri Sep 22, 2006 10:20 am

Syrah like left coast Pinots (to which we are not opposed) certainly benefit from some air, particularly when young.
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Re: Pinot Decanted?

Postby Oliver McCrum » Fri Sep 22, 2006 2:10 pm

Decanting is not customary in Burgundy, as I was once told rather severely by the late proprietor of Pousse d'Or.

I still decant older Pinots for sediment, as I think sediment interferes with my enjoyment of the wine.
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Re: Pinot Decanted?

Postby Paul Savage » Sat Sep 23, 2006 3:04 am

Well, speaking of Burgundy, which is my favorite wine, I *always* used to decant them, but always used a moderate surface area carafe. The "problem" with not decanting is that with just the cork pulled, for instance, it takes a long time for the wines to develop. And they REALLY NEED to develop, as Robin mentions, they change more than most wines, and ALWAYS for the better in my experience. Even in a carafe, I would expect even fairly mature ones, say from the '60s or '70s, to need a good hour in a carafe to fully develop. The problem in a decanter is how the surface area might increase as the wine level goes down. This tends to provide extreme air exposure exactly when the wine doesn't need it! BAD!

Now, I prefer to use the "slow oxygenation" method employed by Monsieur Audouze, where you pull the cork at least 5 hours beforehand. With a not-so-old wine, like a '70s era wine or younger, I will also pour out a small taste initially to enlarge the surface area in the neck a bit, and to see what the starting point is like. Even then, it will take at least a further hour, once one starts serving from the bottle, for the wine to develop fully. You can pour out a half glass and pour it back in at about the "one hour before serving time" to lessen this wait.

The advantage of the "slow oxygenation" method is that some subtle freshness and vitality in older wines is better preserved. But for a younger wine, with more body, a gentle decant should be fine, just beware the wide-bottomed decanters! I would never use one with a good Burg. Better to pour out a glass initially, and pour it back into the bottle, to introduce some air, and then wait.... You probably would have to repeat that operation after an hour, and wait another hour, to see the wine at its best.

SERVING TEMPERATURE... I put that in capitals because I think it is so important with Pinots and Burgs. A nice cool temperature, but not so cold that the wine gets "hard".

My two and a half cents! :wink: ...Paul
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Re: Pinot Decanted?

Postby AaronW » Sun Sep 24, 2006 3:50 pm

Paul Savage wrote:Well, speaking of Burgundy, which is my favorite wine, I *always* used to decant them, but always used a moderate surface area carafe. The "problem" with not decanting is that with just the cork pulled, for instance, it takes a long time for the wines to develop. And they REALLY NEED to develop, as Robin mentions, they change more than most wines, and ALWAYS for the better in my experience. Even in a carafe, I would expect even fairly mature ones, say from the '60s or '70s, to need a good hour in a carafe to fully develop. The problem in a decanter is how the surface area might increase as the wine level goes down. This tends to provide extreme air exposure exactly when the wine doesn't need it! BAD!

Now, I prefer to use the "slow oxygenation" method employed by Monsieur Audouze, where you pull the cork at least 5 hours beforehand. With a not-so-old wine, like a '70s era wine or younger, I will also pour out a small taste initially to enlarge the surface area in the neck a bit, and to see what the starting point is like. Even then, it will take at least a further hour, once one starts serving from the bottle, for the wine to develop fully. You can pour out a half glass and pour it back in at about the "one hour before serving time" to lessen this wait.

The advantage of the "slow oxygenation" method is that some subtle freshness and vitality in older wines is better preserved. But for a younger wine, with more body, a gentle decant should be fine, just beware the wide-bottomed decanters! I would never use one with a good Burg. Better to pour out a glass initially, and pour it back into the bottle, to introduce some air, and then wait.... You probably would have to repeat that operation after an hour, and wait another hour, to see the wine at its best.

SERVING TEMPERATURE... I put that in capitals because I think it is so important with Pinots and Burgs. A nice cool temperature, but not so cold that the wine gets "hard".

My two and a half cents! :wink: ...Paul



A very informative reply, thanks alot Paul!
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