ChaimShraga wrote:I think a good Chablis offers the salty aspects of the marine environment, not specifically the briny. In my opinion, Tzora offers the taut structure of a Chablis, without the salty, marine aspects.
Isaac Chavel wrote:I'll bite. What is "reduction"?
Allen Meadows on Reduction
Because of the continued use, in fact growth, of reductive winemaking in Burgundy, more and more in-barrel tastings that occur after malolactic fermentations, result in notes that refer to reduction. When wines are reduced, I say so rather than substituting a wine writing euphemism. p> The reason that the term reduction is seen so often is because more and more Burgundians, for both red and white wines, are now practicing what is called reductive winemaking. Effectively, what this means is that they are increasingly working with the fine lees; while this has long been accepted practice with whites, it has now spread to the reds as well. As a result, they rack less often or not at all and when they do, it’s often with limited or no exposure to oxygen. Indeed, more and more vignerons rack only in preparation for the bottling, which means that when I and other reviewers pass by to take a look at the wines a year after they were made, they are generally in a pretty reduced state.
Without getting into a chemical analysis (see Overstreet’s discussion below), of which I am ill-equipped to guide you anyway, this practice often results in a highly reductive environment in barrel, which simply put is the absence of oxygen. Winemakers have long understood that too much oxygen, particular in whites, is not a good thing because it oxidizes them and in extreme cases, can turn both reds and whites prematurely brown. However, the reverse can be taken to an extreme as well and when this occurs, a condition known as reduction occurs. A reduced wine smells dirty and in particular of sulfur compounds. A heavily reduced wine will taste of it as well and when extreme reduction occurs, mercaptans appear. Mercaptans smell of burnt rubber, garlic, stale sweat among other descriptors and suffice it to say, that is very unpleasant and if not corrected, can ruin a wine.
Reduction is, generally speaking, easily cured simply by introducing oxygen. As a practical matter, the way that this is most often done is to rack the wine from one barrel to another, which introduces oxygen and eliminates most of the lees (though sometimes they are kept and added back). However, if reduction appears in a finished, bottled wine, it is a clear flaw and while aeration (decanting) will usually clear it up, some wines are permanently reduced and about all that can be done is to put a penny in the wine. Sounds bizarre, but it works! (Note that my wife suggests a clean penny).
The reason that reduction is significant is because it renders a wine particularly difficult to judge. Slight reduction is not something to worry about because the basic characteristics of the wine are still evident. Heavy reduction that extends to the flavors makes a wine almost impossible to accurately judge and if the condition is left untreated it can permanently mark a wine. This risk explains why traditional practice in Burgundy is to rack a wine after the malolactic fermentation is finished so as to introduce some oxygen and thus dissipate the reductive aromas. However, with ever more precise analytical tools, a winemaker can push the edge of the envelope in this regard and still not reach a condition where more radical or invasive solutions are required to fix a problem. While this practice probably does result in richer and more complex wines, it makes the review process extremely difficult while the wines are in this state. I share this with you in the interest of full disclosure as I make every effort to judge a wine as accurately as possible but when there are limitations on my ability to do so, it’s incumbent upon me to say just that......It stands to reason that the closer any wine is to its finished state the more accurate the guidance will be.
In fact, judging from the "mineral character" that so many rustically made reds, with plentiful oxygen introduction during fermentation, I would tend to think that evidence may not be pointing that direction.
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