Curious pinot fact

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Curious pinot fact

Postby Jenise » Mon May 29, 2006 2:36 pm

The Wine Spectator's recent issue on pinot noir included this statement: "Pinot is particularly fragile at bottling and takes longer to recover after the fact than other grape varieties."

I had not heard this before, which after all the years I've spent hanging out on internet wine sites and tasting recently drawn barrel samples has me wondering if geekdom generally accepts this as true.
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Re: Curious pinot fact

Postby Dan Donahue » Tue May 30, 2006 11:47 am

Does geekdom agree on anything? I've heard/seen many statements to the effect that PN is more prone to bottle shock and travel shock than any other varietal. But I've also heard/seen claims that bottle shock and travel shock are wine myths.

I normally let PN's rest for a few months (or more), I like them with some age anyhow.
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Re: Curious pinot fact

Postby Oliver McCrum » Tue May 30, 2006 3:08 pm

Anyone who thinks that bottle shock is a myth should join me for a tasting when I check the wines off a new container, and again some weeks later to taste the same wines. It's very real, but not at all consistent.
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Re: Curious pinot fact

Postby Bill Spohn » Tue May 30, 2006 3:39 pm

Jenise - I have only one question - why on Earth are you still reading the Wine Speculator? :roll:

Seriously, if you look to them for any accurate information about TASTING wine, your chance ofgetting anything useful is just about zip - they are all over the place.

I suppose a news article might have some semblance of fact contained in it, but I wouldn't be willing to bet on it.

A sort of Drinker's Digest for the rich and spoiled and short of attention (i.e. most of a generation, unfortunately).

I do agree that bottle shock is a fact of life, as is travel shock, though.
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Re: Curious pinot fact

Postby John DeFiore » Tue May 30, 2006 4:11 pm

I guess I would agree with the statement if they changed it to "Pinot is particularly fragile at bottling and takes longer to recover after the fact than MOST other RED wine producing grape varieties."
Pinot doesn't have the same quantity of tannins that act as anti-oxidents protect other red varieties from all the oxygen that can enter the wine during bottling. That's why Pinot isn't racked as often as most reds as well, it's handled more like a white.

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Re: Curious pinot fact

Postby Jenise » Tue May 30, 2006 4:28 pm

I've heard/seen many statements to the effect that PN is more prone to bottle shock and travel shock than any other varietal. But I've also heard/seen claims that bottle shock and travel shock are wine myths.


Dan, like Oliver, I know that bottle shock is no myth. I let everything rest as long as I can before opening--used to think a week was enough, but now I know that four weeks is better. John's explanation of why pinot might be more susceptible makes sense.

Bill, I like reading about wine and the Speck has some interesting articles and columnists (like Matt Kramer). But you know me well enough to know I don't heed their reviews. Actually, I'd planned to let this lapse years ago but Bob, unaware of my intentions, renewed it. So here it comes, and still I read.
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Re: Curious pinot fact

Postby Bill Spohn » Tue May 30, 2006 4:33 pm

Jenise wrote:Bill, I like reading about wine and the Speck has some interesting articles and columnists (like Matt Kramer). But you know me well enough to know I don't heed their reviews. Actually, I'd planned to let this lapse years ago but Bob, unaware of my intentions, renewed it. So here it comes, and still I read.


I first bought a subscription back when it was worth reading - in the old newsprint days. I then got some sort of special educational discount deal that carried on for many years and ended up putting it in my waiting area at the office, but finally let it lapse even at cut rate as what I read on the few occasions I did pick it up usually enraged me "How stupid do they think we are...?"

So anyway - you are indicating you are NOT a point person.... :P
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Re: Curious pinot fact

Postby Peter May » Tue May 30, 2006 5:17 pm

Jenise wrote: I know that bottle shock is no myth. I let everything rest as long as I can before opening--used to think a week was enough, but now I know that four weeks is better


I agree with you and let wines 'rest' after purchasing them. But at thewine trade shows, where they are seriously selling to agents etc, the wines can travel halfway across the globe to be delivered the day before the show starts.
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Re: Curious pinot fact

Postby Sue Courtney » Tue May 30, 2006 6:44 pm

Dan Donahue wrote:Does geekdom agree on anything? I've heard/seen many statements to the effect that PN is more prone to bottle shock and travel shock than any other varietal. But I've also heard/seen claims that bottle shock and travel shock are wine myths.


I reckon that bottle shock is simply an excuse for a wine being bottled too young. I've watched bottling lines and the most vigorous thing that happens is the bottle being filled - it's about as vigorous as sloshing a young wine into a decanter. I have also been to tastings where I have seen tasters putting the palm of their hand over the top of a glass to give the glass a good shake in the hope it might help a 'closed' or young wine to open up. If it had been 'shaken' around in transit, then they wouldn't have to do this, would they?
Conversely older wines that have been cellared for some time can have movement shock and should be rested to let the sediment drop to the bottom of the bottle before being opened.

Cheers,
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Re: Curious pinot fact

Postby Otto » Wed May 31, 2006 7:16 am

I've never really known what to think of this idea. I've bought some old Pinots (1982) and was so impatient that I just let one of the two rest one day for the sediment to settle and then opened it and it was lovely. The other bottle of the same wine which I bought I opened two months later and it was just as lovely. Hardly a sample to enable me to say scientifically that travel shock doesn't exist, but it does enable me to say that it doesn't apply to all Pinots. (Actually I've done this with younger Burgundies as well, i.e. 1996, and never had bad effects with them either. In fact I've never experienced travel shock.)

Bottling shock? I always thought it was a euphemism at trade fairs for why young wines aren't showing well - but I thought it was natural for many young wines to be closed if not decanted long. Is this a nature of young wine or bottling? That might just be an impossible question to answer. Thanks for the thought provoking post. I've got no answers, I just like to think out loud on occasion...
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Re: Curious pinot fact

Postby Howie Hart » Wed May 31, 2006 8:38 am

As a home winemaker, I taste the wines at various stages of production, from the fresh-pressed juice to long after bottling. In response to Sue, bottling shock is not related to bottling too young, as I've encountered it in just about every wine I've bottled. It is a function of bottling. During bottling the wine is exposed to air and often it is filtered just before bottling. The difference the intensity of the aroma at bottling time and 6 weeks later can be very significant. Sometimes a wine may also be sweetened just before bottling and/or the SO2 level raised for stability. These also takes time to stabilize inside the bottle. Finally, there's the issue of air in the head space, which has about 21% oxygen. Some of this oxygen reacts with the wine over time. In short, several things may happen to the wine at bottling and it takes a while to recover.
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Re: Curious pinot fact

Postby Rahsaan » Wed May 31, 2006 9:05 am

In fact I've never experienced travel shock


Must be that hard crisp Finnish air. :D
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Re: Curious pinot fact

Postby Dale Williams » Wed May 31, 2006 9:29 am

Count me among the believers in travel shock. Have I had bottles that showed well immediately after shipment? Sure. But I've had plenty of others that were dumb or disjointed. Enough that except for emergencies (bottles for holes in verticals or something) I wait 2-4 weeks.

I've never done a comparative study of grapes, but from memory some of the worse "offenders" when I've opened shipped bottles have been Burgundy.

Not a statistically valid sampling, but why not just let the rest? Few people here are short on wine!
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Re: Curious pinot fact

Postby Jenise » Wed May 31, 2006 10:33 am

But at thewine trade shows, where they are seriously selling to agents etc, the wines can travel halfway across the globe to be delivered the day before the show starts.


True enough. And yet I've bought many such wines, and then opened my new purchase two months later and found what amounts to a completely different wine. And the change is always the same--the wine which at first impressed for it's restraint relaxes into something not the least bit restrained. Clearly, I mistook shocked wine for restrained.
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Re: Curious pinot fact

Postby Oliver McCrum » Wed May 31, 2006 2:30 pm

Peter May wrote:
Jenise wrote: I know that bottle shock is no myth. I let everything rest as long as I can before opening--used to think a week was enough, but now I know that four weeks is better


I agree with you and let wines 'rest' after purchasing them. But at thewine trade shows, where they are seriously selling to agents etc, the wines can travel halfway across the globe to be delivered the day before the show starts.


I was at Vinitaly in April. A producer of Etna Rosso, a wine made predominantly from a variety called Nerello Mascalese (sometimes referred to as 'the Pinot of the Sicily' because of its finesse) had sent the samples from Etna to Verona the week before, and they didn't taste nearly as good as the rested examples of the same wine that I had in my warehouse in California.

I think the only people who don't believe in bottling/shipping shock are those who don't work with wine that has been recently shipped or bottled. I have never met anyone in the trade who doubts the existence of the phenomenon; I am reminded of its existence every time I jump the gun with a new arrival and have customers tell me 'bring it back when it's tasting as it should.'
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