Tuesday, June 13, 2023
LeDomduVin: An interesting experiment - Burgundy vs Bordeaux - Tasting Groffier Les Sentiers 2018 vs Chateau Palmer 2009 after being left open for a few days.
Throughout my 31-year career as a Sommelier, I have frequently heard that Bordeaux wines, with their blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Cabernet Franc, usually outlast Burgundy wines when left open for a few days.
This is supposedly due to Bordeaux's fuller, heavier structure, texture, and higher tannin content, in contrast to the lighter Pinot Noir in Burgundy wines.
Is it true and accurate? Or is it a misconception resulting from the long history of rivalry between the two regions?
Well, I cannot provide factual or scientific answers to these questions. However, I would like to share the outcome of a fascinating experiment I conducted over the weekend.
Friday night, I opened Groffier "Les Sentiers" 2018. And although it was good after a few hours of opening, I still found it tight and closed. Too young to be able to fully express itself. So, I put the cork back and opened something else (see previous post for descriptions).
Saturday night, I opened and decanted Chateau Palmer 2009. Probably one of the best vintages ever made. It was stunning! Dark, ripe, rich, complex, layered, structured, textured, ample, expanding, coating and long. Yet, way too young, showing some rough angles and tannins, deserving more time to smooth down and be more integrated.
By night’s end, a third of the bottle remained since the host and guests only had a few glasses.(*) So, I put the cork back.
On Sunday, around 11 am, while doing my "mise en place" for lunch, I decided to taste both bottles side by side: Groffier "Les Sentiers" 2018 opened for roughly 41 hours, and Palmer 2009 opened (and decanted, then put back in the bottle) for roughly 17 hours.
Interestingly, Groffier "Les Sentiers" had opened up and tasted greater than on Friday. Even after two days, it was in better condition than Palmer, which showed signs of weakness with fruit and structure loss, probably due to the double decanting.
In conclusion, despite Burgundy being lighter and having fewer tannins than Bordeaux, it had demonstrated its ability to sometimes outlast Bordeaux, in certain circumstances, when left open for a few days.
Hope this happy ending will shush the sceptics!
That said, the circumstances favoured the Burgundy wine this time, and that's why I wrote "sometimes" and "in certain circumstances". Let me explain.
First, Palmer 2009 is an older vintage, enabling it to deteriorate faster than a younger vintage like 2018. Secondly, Palmer was double-decanted, which may have also affected its condition and accelerated its deterioration, compared to Groffier, which was just opened and left in the bottle the whole time.
Yet, I couldn't leave the wine in the decanter overnight, so I had to put it back in the bottle, hence "double decanting", which normally shouldn't have affected a wine like Palmer in a solar year like 2009. But hey, proof that it can happen.
That said, even if Groffier "Les Sentiers" 2018 was much younger and therefore was better equipped to withstand a few days in the bottle, it still has had the merit of having lasted 41 hours without losing its quality. Quite the contrary, it seems that being left in the bottle to open up for that long did it good. Surprising. 😁👍🍷
To be fair for both wines, repeating the experiment with the same vintage (either both 2009 or 2018) and uncorking time (24 hours for both, instead of 41 hours for one and 17 hours for the other) would be interesting to see if the Burgundy would indeed manage to keep longer or lose less quality after a day or two than the Bordeaux.
Supposedly Bordeaux's fuller, heavier structure, texture, and higher tannin content make it more oxidation-resistant than the lighter and more delicate Burgundy. And yet, as this experiment proves, Burgundy can sometimes outlast Bordeaux. It all depends on certain factors and circumstances.
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