Wednesday, September 05, 2007

The Great Decanting Experiment – Wine #13

For the last wine in this decanting series we head back to Burgundy and the Mercurey Appellation. And this time it’s a Faiveley. That’s right, the last wine will be the most severe test of the idea that aeration softens tannins because this wine, like all good Faiveleys, has astringency in spades. Oh, excuse me. Its more robust than most. Let’s see if a little air will bring it down to earth!

Wine #13: 2003 Faiveley Mercurey Clos des Myglands Premier Cru, Burgundy, France ($21.00USD, 375ml), 13% alcohol.
One bottle was splash decanted and the other left unopen; both in the cellar at 56 degrees F. After two and a half hours the second bottle was opened and the two wines poured randomly into three marked opaque glasses while I was out of the room.

Glass A: Muted notes of strawberry and cherry over toasted oak and anise. Very soft and supple entry that is overrun by gripping tannins. Nicely structured with good clean acidity.

Glass B: Is there wine in this glass? Nothing except a faint whiff of toffee. Same palate as glass A ; soft and supple on entry but the astringency is overpowering.

Glass C: As for glass B, very, very closed. Just a little anise and oak. Again a palate overpowered by astringency.

My opinion: A and C are from the bottle and B the decanter.

Reality: A is from the bottle and B and C are from the decanter.

Conclusion: My first assessment of the glasses was that A was from the bottle. Why didn’t I stick with that? Well, the aromas in this wine (like a lot of red Burgundy that I have tasted) are very subtle and I knew that I should spend time searching for them. In the end it was a somewhat futile exercise as the astringency of a young Faiveley batters the palate into resignation. But I will say one thing. Two hours of air seemed to make this wine more astringent, if that is possible!

Just to see what a long exposure to air might do I left one bottle about a quarter full of wine and the other was filled with the remaining wine and corked. After 24 hours the wine in the full bottle was still quite fresh and had developed a note of mushrooms while wine from the other bottle was quite oxidized and almost undrinkable.

Score: Wines tested 13, Decanters 1, Non-decanters 4.

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