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Discuss: "Great Burgundy smells of sh*t"

In his book entitled "BURGUNDY" by Anthony Hanson, this expert writes "Great Burgundy smells of shit. It is most surprising, but something the French recognized long ago, Ça sent la merde and Ça sent le purin being common expressions on the Côte. Not always, of course; but frequently there is a smell of decaying matter, vegetable or animal, about them." )

This might explain the scent I got from my $55 bottle of Pinot Noir.

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  1. While it is only one of many aromas present in a good Burgundy, yes - I agree.

    1. I remember when I first smelled an Old World wine v.s. a New World same varietal (GSM). It was astonishing the difference. I could not actually get past the nose in order to enjoy the wine. I could not tell you exactly what I smelled, but certainly stinky was all I could think of. A few years have past since then, and now I love a good barnyard, old earthy smell to my reds. I don't know if I have ever actually smelled poop in my wine, I am curious to try it now, to see if I would like, hate, discern that smell.

      1. if you don't want to piss off wine sno... er connesseurs... say "scat" instead

        9 Replies
        1. re: thew

          No, $#!+ is perfectly acceptable as a descriptor for SOME wines from the Burgundy region or France, or -- since it's French wine he's talking about -- perhaps "merde" is more appropriate. Then again, "baby poop" is a common descriptor for Mourvèdre, but that's a different grape entirely.

          1. re: zin1953

            Based on the scent associated with Mourvedre, and the fcat that there are so many great wines, I wonder why anyone would drink this varietal ? The aroma borders on vomit inducing to me. The taste of the wine isn't offensive, but that nose is not worth it. I can't imagine anyone finding it enticing.

            1. re: TonyO

              Just because YOU find the nose objectionable doesn't mean that everyone else does . . .

              Obviously lots of people love wines from the Bandol appellation, or the wines from Château de Beaucastel in Chateauneuf-du-Pape, not to mention a whole lot of various wines from the south of France, Spain, Portugal, Australia, California and elsewhere . . . .

              1. re: zin1953

                Hey, leave my "lizard vomit in a wet cigar box" descriptors out of this discussion. "A wet saddle, riden by a cowboy in the AZ heat," is something that some folk just love. Same for that "boxwood" (yeah, we KNOW what that means!) descriptor. To each their own...


                1. re: zin1953

                  I would venture to "guess" that if 1,000 people were asked if they like the smell of feces, 99% would say no. The 1% saying they liked it would likely have larger issues to deal with. My point is not to convince anyone to agree/disagree with me but to wonder why anyone would choose something that is easily identified as foul whne so many other options are available. But then again, some likely enjoy the aroma of gas passed on an elevator.......................

                  1. re: TonyO

                    And I would venture to "guess" that if 1,000 people who consume wine (any wine) on a regular basis were asked:

                    -- if they like the smell of human feces, 99% would say "no";
                    -- if they like the smell of Burgundy, 99% would say "yes";
                    -- if they thought Burgundy smelled like human feces, 99% would say "no".

                    C'est la vie . . .

                    1. re: zin1953

                      I would agree. I have no problem with "barnyard" when mingled with red/black fruit. That Mourvedre aroma, pure porta potty to me !

                2. re: TonyO

                  I've actually drunk a decent bit of good mourvedre, but usually Spanish and sometimes with some blend of cabernet sauvignon, and have never felt need to resort to the "baby poop" descriptor for the nose. I guess I've just been missing out.

                  *But then again, some likely enjoy the aroma of gas passed on an elevator*

                  But generally only their own brand.

              2. re: thew

                Maybe "barnyard" in mixed company?


              3. >>> Discuss: "Great Burgundy smells of sh*t" <<<

                No. I don't like being "ordered" to do things, thank you though. On the other hand, were to to ASK what Anthony Hanson meant be this, that's another story.

                But, of course, you already know the answer. "Sous bois" IS indeed a common descriptor. Human feces is not.

                1. Sometimes. Not always.

                  I, too, enjoy an earthy or barn-y aroma in reds (there's a couple of reds from Val du Rhone that tend to get a little, um, musky)

                  If you don't like it, don' t drink it...and the rest of us will drink your share.

                  But don't question our sanity or our taste if we do enjoy it.

                  1. I call it "barnyard." And yes, that is one of the many aromas typical of Pinot Noir, especially that from Burgundy.

                    And as someone else has already said, don't drink it if you don't like it. Plenty of others of us will gladly consume your share. ;)

                    1. I don't know much about the smell of shit. But, a couple of years ago, I had a 1996 DRC La Tache that was 'corked'! To me, that smell was 'worse than shit'!!!!

                      4 Replies
                      1. re: Charles Yu

                        Barnyard = horse manure = Brett

                        Corked = wet dog fur = 2,4,6-trichloroanisole

                        1. re: zin1953

                          I'm trying to say, the smell not only stinks, it actually hurts!! Nothings worse than a great wine gone bad!!

                          1. re: Charles Yu

                            "Nothings worse than a great wine gone bad!!"


                            It CAN get worse... if that is the ONLY bottle that you have of that wine in the cellar.


                          2. re: zin1953

                            "Corked = wet dog fur = 2,4,6-trichloroanisole"

                            I refer to TCA contamination as smelling like "musty hymnals in a Baptist Church in the Deep South." Even to those, who are not Baptists, the image is easy to translate.

                            Have to also add that my tap water in Phoenix, AZ, often smells a bit like lightly corked red wine... ?