‘Overstuffed’ wines analysed

A Purple Pager asked Elaine a question after her recent account of a vertical of Corison Kronos and the answer is surely interesting enough to share. 

Peggy Baudon wrote:

I absolutely loved the article about your vertical tasting of Corison’s wines. The tasting visual (see right) is a beautiful representation of the evolution of the wines.

I have a question about your paragraph describing some wines coming out of California as having a sense of ‘compression and compaction’ despite being picked early but not having the overt ripeness and alcohol of many other wines. I have been contemplating this type of character in wines I’ve been tasting from right bank Bordeaux and have been trying to:

a. accurately express the character of the wine and

b. determine what vinification processes are being used to achieve such results.

As a description of this type of ‘stuffed’ wine I certainly appreciated your analogy of stuffing as much as possible into a rucksack. When I taste such a wine, I often feel a bit claustrophobic, as though I am also being stuffed into the glass with no air to breathe. It was a relief to read such an astute description of this type of wine style.

As a wine student though, I have not ascertained the vinification process/es that have contributed to this style. I wonder if you might have some information or feedback about vinification processes that may be used in California to achieve this effect in wine (or even in France). Thus far, I have narrowed down my guesses to reverse osmosis and vacuum distillation as ways to reduce water content in the must/wine and therefore leaving more ‘stuff’ in the wine (and therefore less ‘space’ and making it ‘feel oppressive on the palate’ as you eloquently described). However, I am also wondering if flash détenteor thermovinification might have an additional hand in the process/es. It has been difficult to find information on the vinification of these types of wines – not surprisingly since they can be described as a ‘trick’ to adjust the wine unnaturally. Not many winemakers would wish to be called out in such a way.

Any feedback or guidance about vinification methods to achieve these effects in wine would be so greatly appreciated!

Elaine Chukan Brown replied:

Thank you so much for your kind email. I am so happy to read that you appreciated the article and that that description of the wine style made sense to you. I’ve been confronted by that sort of ‘overstuffed’ wine repeatedly and had spent time thinking through how to explain the experience of tasting them. It is good to know that the description of the overstuffed rucksack I used obviously made sense to you with your own tasting experience.

In terms of how such wines are made, I can offer explanations on a few possible cellar choices that might help give some perspective. Of course there would be variations on which techniques are used depending on particular wines but here are some thoughts that could help with the overall picture. More technical information ….

To keep reading this article, head on over to JancisRobinson.com where it appears free-for-all to read. Here’s the direct link: https://www.jancisrobinson.com/articles/overstuffed-wines-analysed

1 COMMENT

  1. Interesting. Another source of “pre-stuffyness/silk building” can happen with polymirization (softening) of tannins in grapes hanging well past leaf drop. Even a portion in a blend can impact things immensley in relation to texture.

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