Home > Art, Burgundy, Rants and Ramblings, wine appreciation, wine ratings > I Still Don’t Understand…

I Still Don’t Understand…

October 29, 2022 Leave a comment Go to comments

This is not really a rant. I guess this can classify as rambling. Or “asking for a friend” might be the best way to classify this post.

Nevertheless, let me share my frustration.

The question is as simple as it is proverbial. When you take a sip of wine (you can make it a glass, doesn’t matter), do you judge the wine at that moment?

Hold on, while you ponder this, let me add a few layers.

You read the description of the wine. The wine sounds great. The wine sounds like something you want to buy and you want to drink, so you buy it.

Some time later (let’s say, 10 months later), you open a bottle. You remember it came with the recommendation, so you are full of anticipation – or not, maybe you even forgot the raving review. But this bottle is in your cellar, as you had a reason to buy it. So it is rightfully expected to be a good bottle of wine.

You pour a glass. You take a sip. The wine is perfectly fine, no faults, all is good, but the wine gives you nothing. Forget pleasure – the wine is flat and pedestrian, it doesn’t deliver anything, doesn’t cause any emotion. Just flat and boring. You let it breathe for an hour or even two, and still, there is nothing. Does this story sound familiar? Can you picture yourself in this situation?

So here is the first part of the question. How do they do it? The people who reviewed the wine and called it “Killer Bourgogne Rouge” – how come you can’t see an eye to eye with them? I get it when the wine solicits emotion and it is not your wine – this I understand. I remember Robert Parker raving about Ball Buster Shiraz, and the wine was incredibly overdone to my taste, I couldn’t enjoy it at all, but at least that wine didn’t leave me indifferent. But this is not my point. Let’s continue.

While I was not happy  – I rarely get to drink Burgundy, so I really want every Burgundy experience to be special – I still did what I always do. Pumped the air out and left the bottle on the counter.

The next evening, I poured another glass to decide on the fate of the half bottle which was left. I took a sip, and couldn’t believe that I’m drinking the same wine that was flat and boring the day before. The wine opened up, it had depth, the fruit, minerality, forest underfloor, hint of smoke, acidity  – all were at a beautiful interplay. The wine instantly went into the “delicious” category, and that half a bottle didn’t last for too long.

This brings us to the second part of the question. How do they do it? The wine critics and professional reviewers – are their palates so much more sophisticated than mine? There is no way they wait for the wine for a day or two to open up. Where I see “flat”, they can really see the full beauty? Or is there something I miss?

Domaine Rebourgeon-Mure is one of the oldest in Burgundy, tracing its roots back to 1552. The property spreads over 3 appellations – Pommard, Volnay, and Beaune, allowing wines to be produced in each one of those applications. The domain practices sustainable viticulture; the grapes are harvested by hand, and the wines are aged in 17th-century cellars in partially new oak for 14-18 months.

The wine I’m talking about here was 2019 Domaine Rebourgeon-Mure Cuvée de Maison Dieu Bourgogne (13.5% ABV, $26.98 at Wine Exchange), and after giving this wine time to open, I have to fully agree with “Killer Bourgogne Rouge” definition. Yet I know that I couldn’t enjoy this wine from the get-go.

So what can you tell me? Is this simply my personal handicap, or is there something fundamental I’m missing?

Whatever you want to say, I’m all ears…

  1. Gene Castellino
    October 30, 2022 at 5:05 am

    Could your palate have been “off” on day 1? I find that there are days that i just don’t taste well.

    • October 31, 2022 at 12:26 pm

      I keep forgetting that this is a “thing”. You might be right. Few people expressed the same view on Twitter, so this is definitely a possibility. Not sure if I can verify it either way though.

  2. November 3, 2022 at 1:49 am

    When tasting wines when they are young, it is not impossible that they were opened a day before. Especially if the supplier has indicated this is necessary. Or that some kind of aeration was done with a device (blenders are great for this). I have had a similar experience with a South African Chardonnay that I bought based on a review and was nothing like the tasting note until I let it breathe for a day. Having said that, there are very few truly independent wine journalists that write what they really think without being biased (which is hard if you are getting a free sample or are ‘wined and dined’).

    • November 5, 2022 at 1:19 pm

      I hear you, Stefan. So this sounds very similar to your case with the Chardonnay. The wine was superb on the second day… I guess knowing exactly how the wine was tasted would be an interesting tidbit…

  3. November 3, 2022 at 8:14 pm

    May not be you either, can be the bottle, the glass. I am amazed how a glass that has not been properly cleaned, even just slightly, could be the wrong detergent or unclean water or the drying cloth has a residue on it that is transferred to the glass, can impact the wine.

    Could also be that the wine needed more time to relax..

    A problem I have also experienced is tasting a wine too soon the flight that wine was delivered on. The older the wine the more time it needs to settle down again.

    • November 5, 2022 at 1:16 pm

      The glass might be a culprit, potentially, even though this was at home, and I typically wash my glasses by hand. Still, it is a possibility. Bottle shock is of course a possibility, however, this wine was in the cellar for about 10 months. Anyway, it was really odd…

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