is it smoke, or is it lees

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is it smoke, or is it lees

Postby Bob Henrick » Mon Jun 04, 2007 6:14 pm

Occasionally I get fooled by a taste and an aroma I find on a wine, especially on a white wine. the problematic child is a smoky aroma which I usually think of heavily toasted barrel staves, or even barrel heads. One wine in particular that I found this aroma and taste was the 1999 Aldo Conterno chardonnay called Printaine. I found though that this wine sees no wood ever. A more recent wine that has me (admittedly) fooled is the 2002 ESJ Blonk. Steve says on his web page that it only sees neutral French oak puncheons (average age: 18 years) and fermented therein. Anyway this wine tastes to me as if it was held in smoky oak for a good long time. It's good, but it is powerful both on the nose and on the palate. regarding the Printaine I have come to the conclusion that the wines sees a LOT of time on the lees. That is the only answer I have been able to come to, and I suspect the same with the Blonk. Steve, what say you?
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Re: is it smoke, or is it lees

Postby Steve Edmunds » Mon Jun 04, 2007 6:57 pm

Bob, you are really paying attention; I'm quite impressed. The blonk! was on primary lees in those old barrels, for nine months or so, then in the same barrels for several more months before being sequestered in stainless prior to bottling. I'll have to taste again to see if I recognized what you're smelling/tasting.
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Re: is it smoke, or is it lees

Postby Oliver McCrum » Mon Jun 04, 2007 7:25 pm

I've seen this confusion before, certainly; there is a textural change in both cases, too.
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Re: is it smoke, or is it lees

Postby Mark Lipton » Mon Jun 04, 2007 11:48 pm

Bob,
I find that wine aged on its lees often has a "toasty" component to it (as in Champagne often times), but I can't say that I find that at all smoky. There's also the burnt matchhead smell of SO2, but I doubt that either of the wines you mentioned sees an inordinant amount of sulfur treatment.

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Re: is it smoke, or is it lees

Postby Bob Henrick » Tue Jun 05, 2007 8:15 am

Mark, your assessment of "toast" may well be more accurate than my "smoke". I could have confused the toastiness for smoke, however the aroma was powerful, and I thought smoke. Unfortunately I am out of Blonk, else I could hold a "taste off". :-)
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Re: is it smoke, or is it lees

Postby Jenise » Tue Jun 05, 2007 3:18 pm

Bob, I have a similar problem when tasting chardonnay, I'm glad you asked the question.

Another question for the winemakers, does extended time on the lees also contribute a color?
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Re: is it smoke, or is it lees

Postby Howie Hart » Tue Jun 05, 2007 5:10 pm

Jenise wrote:...Another question for the winemakers, does extended time on the lees also contribute a color?
I don't believe so. Compare an un-oaked Chardonnay with Blanc des Blanc, which does extended time on the lees in the bottle.
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