Burgundy seminar report part 1: Reducing the risk of premox

At this point in the discussion, Leroux pointed out that during the 80s and 90s producers were introducing a lot of dissolved oxygen into the wine during bottling, but the issue of premature oxidation was not acute.

Benjamin Leroux

Benjamin Leroux

Hence, he said, “The difference is the quality of the cork.”

And despite quality assurances from certain natural cork manufacturers, Leroux added, “I’m still not satisfied and I think it will still be a problem in the next 10 to 20 years.”

His response to this concern has been to trial screwcaps for whites since 2004.

“I’ve had very good results and I can use less sulphur with screwcaps,” he said.

Lafon agreed with Leroux that the most important issue for ensuring consistent and age-worthy white wine production in Burgundy was an excellent seal, although Lafon said he would not make the switch to screwcaps.

“I still use corks, and I fight to get good ones, the main thing is to get good cork, but it’s a lot of work.”

Hervet too expressed his desire to stick with natural cork.

“I have resisted alternative closures because I am fascinated by very old bottles of Burgundy… and, as someone once joked, if the cork trees were growing in Germany, the problem of cork quality would not exist.”

Institute-Masters-Of-Wine-logoMeanwhile, de Montille said he was using the agglomerated cork from Diam.

“Since 2009 we have decided to use Diam 10 for all our white wine up to grand cru – Diam 10 I believe is suitable for long ageing white wine.”

Concluding the discussion on white winemaking, while relating it to the problem of premature oxidation, de Montille said, “I believe we are on the right way and most of these things are solved.”

Similarly, Lafon said, “We are getting close to the end of that problem and close to a good understanding… now we want to secure more things to get the sulphur level a bit lower.”

However, supplying the last words, Hervet said, “Things are progressing, but not enough for the consumers and collectors… we have lost the good use of the lees, the protective use, and we are using too much sulphur.”

Finally, he said, “I am convinced we are missing something – I don’t know why or what – but we need to convince someone to work seriously on this subject.”

One Response to “Burgundy seminar report part 1: Reducing the risk of premox”

  1. Andrew Holod says:

    Seems like there is a possibility that a change in the make-up/proportion of yeast strains could also account for the difference in phenolic resistance to oxidation.
    Another factor that I don’t believe was covered was must weight and speed of fermentations. If indeed there has been warmer weather, higher must weights, earlier harvests and hence earlier fermentations you have a completely different environment for the yeast to work in. This could also subtly change the yeast populations over time. It would be interesting to compare degree days, max Temp, yeast/lees management and reports of pre-mox for the trailing 20 years.

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