The Art of Oxidation…

At a recent wine trade lunch, we got talking about premoxed white Burgundy and what a pain it was in every fine wine drinkers life. A friend had recently opened about the seventh prematurely oxidised (premoxed) bottle of Comtes Lafon Meursault 1er Cru Charmes 2005 out of a case of 12 and vowed never to buy another bottle of Lafon white again.

While it is unfair to single out any one grower specifically, it is fair to say that Dominique Lafon’s whites have been one of the worst offenders for premox since 1996, when the problem was identified in the mainstream media.

But the interesting point of this lunch chat was that the friend in question is also a big lover of traditional styles of oxidised white Rioja as produced by Lopez de Heredia and the older examples of Castillo Ygay white. 

Personally, I remember taking a bottle of expensive Chevalier Montrachet 1999 Grand Cru from a top grower, to a previous blind tasting lunch and everyone thinking it was top white Rioja with amazingly fresh acids, buttery nuanced caramel oak notes, lemon butter and a sweet pithy honied finish. Only, the problem was that it was in fact an expensive premoxed white Burgundy that should have been pale in colour, rapier fresh with taught mineral lemon / lime tension and a clean stoney finish!

So if a wine is eminently drinkable, and meant to taste oxidised, that’s all fine. If it’s NOT meant to taste oxidised, you tip it out and get derided (if you brought it to lunch.) Which made me suggest, in jest, that certain Burgundy producers should diversify and establish a culture of solera wines, that are fresh, zesty, but oxidative in the Tondonia style!

You heard it here first… oxidative solera NV Burgundies. Watch this space!! The sommeliers are going to love this! 

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