Ducru Beaucaillou '82 when to decant ?

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Ducru Beaucaillou '82 when to decant ?

Postby Neil Harvey » Fri Aug 04, 2006 12:50 pm

I have a Magnum of Ducru Beaucaillou '82 and wonder if anyone can give some advice on how long in advance to decant ?
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Re: Ducru Beaucaillou '82 when to decant ?

Postby Robin Garr » Fri Aug 04, 2006 1:09 pm

Neil, you'll get varying advice on this for sure, but personally, I decant older wines only to get the wine off the sediment, not for "breathing," and I don't recommend allowing advance breathing time for these wines. The reason being that breathing is generally needed only for wines that are <i>immature</i>. That shouldn't be an issue with a great 24-year-old Bordeaux, but you do run the risk that, should it be fragile with age, if you allow it extended breathing time, it might fall apart in the decanter before you get to it. I would much rather enjoy watching it evolve in the glass during dinner than come to it after decanter time and find that it has already started to fade.
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Re: Ducru Beaucaillou '82 when to decant ?

Postby Otto » Fri Aug 04, 2006 4:43 pm

I think Robin answered well. I would also decant for sediment. The better 1982 are in no danger of falling apart so I would drink slowly to allow the wine to develop in glass, but I would not decant to accelerate the progress. I hope you report back on how it is.
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Re: Ducru Beaucaillou '82 when to decant ?

Postby wrcstl » Fri Aug 04, 2006 5:01 pm

I agree with Robin and Otto's comments. Decanting is also part of presentation so if you do decant I would not do it much before serving the wine. It is very informative to taste the wines evoluion in the glass rather than letting it happen in the decanter.
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Re: Ducru Beaucaillou '82 when to decant ?

Postby Mark Lipton » Fri Aug 04, 2006 6:36 pm

Robin Garr wrote:Neil, you'll get varying advice on this for sure, but personally, I decant older wines only to get the wine off the sediment, not for "breathing," and I don't recommend allowing advance breathing time for these wines. The reason being that breathing is generally needed only for wines that are <i>immature</i>.


Robin,
I never dreamed of this situation arising, but I'm going to vehemently disagree with you here. I've frequently encountered the need for aerating older Bdx and Burgundy to allow them to open up. The problem is: a) knowing a priori whether an older wine will need that treatment and b) knowing how much time will be required for the wine to come alive. I vividly recall opening a '61 Lynch Bages in '01: initially, it was thin and acidic with no fruit or secondary aromas; 10-15 minutes after decanting, it was a totally different wine with a huge bouquet and a clear sense of the fruit on the palate. (footnote: it stayed alive for the next 3 hours, during which time it was gradually consumed)

My advice is to open the wine a few hours ahead of time and pour a small sample into a glass. Taste it. If it's fine, put the cork back in the bottle and let it sit until needed. If it tastes muted, thin or over the hill, try decanting a bit and vigorously shaking the decanter. Now try some of the aerated wine. If it tastes better, decant the remaining wine immediately and repeat the agitation. (If it doesn't taste better, let the decanted wine sit for 10-15 minutes and try it again, etc.) Once the wine tastes "like it should," pour it back into a clean bottle and replace the cork to keep it preserved for the event. It may continue to evolve when you open it back up, but that's part of the fun.

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Re: Ducru Beaucaillou '82 when to decant ?

Postby Robin Garr » Fri Aug 04, 2006 6:57 pm

Mark Lipton wrote:I never dreamed of this situation arising, but I'm going to vehemently disagree with you here.


It's okay, Mark, it's allowed. This is a no-guru site. ;)

I don't really disagree with your well-stated demurral, but I'll say this: While it's entirely possible that an older wine may show a "dumb" period immediately after opening, and may wake up with a relatively short breathing time, I'm really reluctant to recommend decanting several hours in advance because I think the chances of an older wine falling apart in three hours is much greater than those of an older wine taking three hours to wake up.

Plus, a wine like this deserves an evening of contemplation, so taking the time to watch it evolve in the glass is part of the enjoyment for me.

But that said, sure, your alternative proposal makes great sense, and eliminates the question marks. Good advice!
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Re: Ducru Beaucaillou '82 when to decant ?

Postby wrcstl » Fri Aug 04, 2006 10:15 pm

Mark Lipton wrote:
Robin Garr wrote:Neil, you'll get varying advice on this for sure, but personally, I decant older wines only to get the wine off the sediment, not for "breathing," and I don't recommend allowing advance breathing time for these wines. The reason being that breathing is generally needed only for wines that are <i>immature</i>.


Robin,
I never dreamed of this situation arising, but I'm going to vehemently disagree with you here. I've frequently encountered the need for aerating older Bdx and Burgundy to allow them to open up. The problem is: a) knowing a priori whether an older wine will need that treatment and b) knowing how much time will be required for the wine to come alive. I vividly recall opening a '61 Lynch Bages in '01: initially, it was thin and acidic with no fruit or secondary aromas; 10-15 minutes after decanting, it was a totally different wine with a huge bouquet and a clear sense of the fruit on the palate. (footnote: it stayed alive for the next 3 hours, during which time it was gradually consumed)

My advice is to open the wine a few hours ahead of time and pour a small sample into a glass. Taste it. If it's fine, put the cork back in the bottle and let it sit until needed. If it tastes muted, thin or over the hill, try decanting a bit and vigorously shaking the decanter. Now try some of the aerated wine. If it tastes better, decant the remaining wine immediately and repeat the agitation. (If it doesn't taste better, let the decanted wine sit for 10-15 minutes and try it again, etc.) Once the wine tastes "like it should," pour it back into a clean bottle and replace the cork to keep it preserved for the event. It may continue to evolve when you open it back up, but that's part of the fun.

Mark Lipton


Let's let logic prevail. First '82 Ducru is not an old wine so it doesn't matter if it is decanted or allowed to develop in the glass over several hours. Old is a relative term and I had a '29 Gruaud when opened was great but in 45 minutes it tasted like unflavored colored water. IMHO, if I opened a '61 Bordeaux I would not decant it. Why take the chance? Give it an hour of development, first a quick drink, try it in the glass in 1/2 hour and then in another hour. If you aren't going to play with it for that long you should be drinking OZ Shiraz or a hedonistic CA cab. Not trying to be cute, acutallyl I can't, but I would not take the chance of decanting a Bordeaux that was 40+ years old. Again, why take the chance?
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Re: Ducru Beaucaillou '82 when to decant ?

Postby Covert » Sat Aug 05, 2006 11:33 am

wrcstl wrote:
Mark Lipton wrote: First '82 Ducru is not an old wine
Walt


I agree, when I drank a 750 ml bottle of '82 Ducru a couple of years ago I wished I had opened it about 10 years further down the road. But I would still let it evolve in the glass because I think a bottle provides a more apt presentation than a decanter.
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