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What could be the problem with this wine?

Last September I bought two gold-medal winning (Paris) end of bin lots at an annual nationwide supermarket sale.

The Jurançon secs were just fine, but the Loire reds (Pinot Noir) were dead. They obviously had been mis-stored, exposed to too much heat. I do have some experience with this phenomenon. I communicated with the winemaker who is represented by Kermit Lynch in the US. So he’s no slouch.

Odile and I rejected the last bottles in December, and it wasn’t easy getting reimbursed.

I asked the winemaker if there was somewhere down here where I could buy a bottle of his wine. After all he makes red and white, and I am about to start ordering direct from several regions. He said “no” and sent me a case of 2010 red (6) from a better vineyard. After the ordeal of the mishandled lot I was thrilled, but . . .

One bottle was corked, I’m sure, and unfortunately two others opened three months apart are now in the vinegar pot. They had more life than the mishandled wine from September, but the fruit was very weak. He’s now given up on me as some bozo, but I am wondering what possibly could have happened to this wine which was shipped in the dead of the French winter. It’s not closed, there are no unresolved tannins, and three years on this wine should be in its prime. It just has so little going on beside correct acidity and color.

It’s awfully rare that I turn my nose up at a good wine, and I love Pinot Noir.

Ideas?

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  1. I'm not sure what your question is at this point. What makes you think this isn't just a problematic producer?

    10 Replies
    1. re: Leibowitz

      Too many things. One of his wines is recognized as the best in the appellation, Kermit Lynch and Richards Walford in the UK would never touch his wines, he never would have bothered to bottle this wine, MBA from UCLA, one of the stalwarts and the largest exporter of the appellation, too many awards, website description of the wine, price 11€ . . .

      1. re: collioure

        There's a lot of presumption going on there, my friend. The agents, the awards, the website description? The price? Come again, please.

        Especially the price. At this point, you may be expecting too much from a $15 wine. The Loire may no longer be the value it's become associated with. Occasionally, sure. But I don't trust it as much as I used to. Too variable. Have you had others from this producer?

        Let me put it this way: last night I had a bottle of Montepulciano d'Abruzzo that was touted in very similar ways to those of yours. It was simple and the aroma that of a barn (not in the normally good way: it literally smelled like shit). I would compare those two appellations for value and sometimes incredible value (especially considering the recent attention Abruzzo's been getting, leading to according prices). But I don't expect every different wine to hold up. Sometimes they're just simple.

        1. re: Leibowitz

          11€ is the price from the vintner. That buys a good bottle of wine in this country. Indeed hereabout 7€ will do it.

          1. re: collioure

            Define a "good bottle," or this might lead to much chaos.

            1. re: Leibowitz

              A wine that would earn at a minimum a rating of 85 from the Wine Enthusiast.

              For example I buy Martin Codax Albarino across the border in Spain for 8.50€. Invariably rated between 87 and 90. Never disappoints.

          2. re: Leibowitz

            Pardon me if I find the remarks above rather insulting. In this household we consume some 150 bottles every year.

            I normally have over 100 different wines to choose from. In 11 years here I probably have rejected 3 or 4 labels as not worth drinking.

            This wine just doesn't have anything going on.

            I appreciate the ideas of Tombstone below although I don't think either of his ideas fit. It does occur to me that the wine may have been produced from young vines. Would that do it?

            1. re: collioure

              It was not my intent to insult, just to point out some basic elements of the occasional disappointment of wine, as any art. Judging by your further comments, you seem to have completely skipped over them. I, too, am an adventurous drinker, but I've learned not to rely on the whims of the press nor the tastes of the self-interested agencies and notoriously corrupt and inconsistent awards-granters as my determination.

              I'll stop my participation in this thread here as I have no interest in flame wars.

              1. re: Leibowitz

                Well, I think you went a bit far.

                I'm sorry your Montepulciano d'Abruzzo was dreadful. I've never had a bad one.

                Nor had I ever had a really bad red from the Loire before. I do have difficulty knowing when to open the Cabernet Franc wines, but not the Pinot Noirs.

                $15 may not buy a good bottle of wine in the US. Here in France it does.

                  1. re: collioure

                    There are lots of good $15 wines in California.

                    There are bad wines at every price point everywhere in the world.

        2. One of two things:
          1: Oxidation d/t bad cork, etc... the most likely explanation OR
          2: Bad vintage and/or bad estate for that year.

          Can't be much else, except maybe handling between the estate and the consumer... a distributor left cases sitting out in the heat of Summer...

          I've had wines from major-name vineyards that were just INSIPID... nothing wrong with the year or the distribution chain... Your notes just say to me that "this wine is Blah"... and sometimes that's how it is, even in a good year, if the vineyard doesn't get it's winemaking straight.

          ....The first question to ask, is this typical of this vintage, or not? If it's not, then it's vineyard and/or distribution-specific.

          1 Reply
          1. re: TombstoneShadow

            Agreed, with a whole heart. Wine is not beer, scotch, brandy, or brick.

            There are too many variables, although the vintage part seems covered (as if that's a guarantee). I'm surprised that the OP isn't used to this.

            One should also consider the proven inconstance of the palate.

            Nevertheless, the OP had higher expectations than were warranted. I'd suggest a normal Loire table wine was bought and they expected something akin to a 2003 Pommard. Might happen, but probably not.

            France has also had a wine glut for the last fifteen to twenty years. Buying untested wine, European or not, carries its risks.

          2. Uh, gee -- perhaps you just don't like the wine . . .

            1. Maybe they were just over the hill and not that fantastic to start with. Was the gold medal just in competition with other reds from the same appellation?

              I think most if not all the Loire Pinot Noirs I've had were made to be drunk young and fresh soon after release. I haven't had one I liked as much as Alsatian or better Italian Pinot Noirs, let alone Burgundy, or that seemed like a good value.

              2 Replies
              1. re: Robert Lauriston

                I don't think so, Robert. This wine is not over the hill. It still has plenty of life, just no taste.

                The medals are won by appellation, but gold medals from the regional competition at Angers and national competitions are not to be sneezed at. I was lucky enough to get some gorgeous Quincy last fall. It had won the regional competition at Angers.

                I have experience with other reds from the Loire, and I've never rejected one before. I happen to love Sancerre rouge, and this wine should be similar though not as good.

                1. re: collioure

                  If you like Sancerre rouge, then you know what to expect, so could be it was just a bad vintage and/or that producer's not one of the better ones for that wine.

              2. Why not mention the specific wine? And, if not heat-damaged, were they prematurely oxidized?

                As an example, I purchased a number of 2009 Loire reds in the same price-range as those you mention by Jean François Mérieau, specifically cuvees of Cot ("Cent Visages") and Gamay ("Le Bois Jacou"). When they were on, they were quite tasty for the level, but a shockingly large number (much greater than 50%) were totally oxidized. I blame the corks which had a very slippery surface and were often slightly depressed in the neck and feeling very loose, but I have no way of knowing whether they were the culprit.

                But I do know that the wines exhibited high levels of prem-ox, and now I no longer purchase from the winery. A very high level of TCA contamination has caused me to not purchase from one winery, and I'm considering not purchasing any more Faustino due to Brett issues.

                If you tell us what the wine is, we might be able to tell you if others have experienced that level of spoilage. And, at the very least, you should warn the rest of us if you're finding high levels of spoilage in a particular wine.

                17 Replies
                1. re: Ricardo Malocchio

                  Didn't I say the color was just fine? These bottles are not oxidized.

                  I am going to keep the vintner's name out of this.

                  If you have an idea that fits the situation, I'm still listening.

                  1. re: collioure

                    Have you seen tasting notes that suggest that other people have in the last six months tasted more fruit than you have?

                    1. re: Robert Lauriston

                      No, I haven't. In fact I can't find any.

                      1. re: collioure

                        Collioure,
                        Several years ago, the strangest thing happened to me: I could no longer "taste" pinot noir--wines that others would crow about to me tasted null--dead, no flavor. It made no sense then and still doesn't--I can taste all sorts of wines perfectly well but pinot noir? Non. Open a bottle of burgundy or another pinot you have on hand--see if you too have somehow encountered this syndrome. Just a thought...

                        1. re: penthouse pup

                          Thanks, but I taste Pinot very well, and I've had a few delicious Burgundies, the best and most abundant fine wines in my cellar, since this began.

                          My wife also turned her nose up at these.

                          I still have three to open and I'll keep all these remarks in mind as I open them.

                          Moreover, I'll try to buy a similar bottle in Paris next week.

                          BTW you hardly know this appellation in the USA. Only three wines rated in the Wine Enthusiast buying guide. I have found nice value here and in the neighboring, also little known, appellation.

                          1. re: collioure

                            If we "hardly know" this appellation, why are you asking what seem to be mostly US wine drinkers?

                            1. re: jlbwendt

                              Hey, wine is wine.

                              The reason it is flawed would apply to wine from any origin.

                              I'll be picking up a bottle or two of his Pinot Noirs next week in Paris.

                              BTW one of his Pinot Noirs is available on Amazon.

                              1. re: collioure

                                As politely as I can possibly say this: who gives a ****??? The point here is that you're playing games with the name of the producer, and it's a) irritating beyond belief, and b) wasting bandwidth. It DOES matter where the wine is from, what the wine is, etc., etc. And just how many Pinot Noirs do you think are available on Amazon, anyway?

                                I do believe you are sincere in your initially asking for ideas and/or opinions as to what could be wrong -- but you've shot down every possible suggestion, and requests for more information have been met with cagey little replies, like "you hardly know this appellation in the USA" (then why are you asking us in the first place???) and "Kermit Lynch and Richards Walford in the UK would never touch his wines" (do you know that the wines sold by Kermit, and other US importers of note, and NOT the same as the wines sold elsewhere in the world?), and "MBA from UCLA" (which tells me what specifically about the wine, may I ask?) . . .

                                Hope you read this quickly, because no doubt the mods will kill it . . .

                                1. re: zin1953

                                  I'm not playing any games, Jason.

                                  The name of the vintner matters not. Neither does the appellation in which I have confidence.

                                  If you read carefully here, you'll note that I will be able to buy his wines in Paris next week (in a good shop). So all these negative remarks about the vintner are probably off target.

                                  The only answer to my inquiry that seems to fit is mishandling during shipping.

                                  I'll not bother with your other pecadillos.

                                  1. re: jlbwendt

                                    Maybe.

                                    The other possibilities seem not to fit.

                                  2. re: collioure

                                    Sorry, but I must be really daft here. What exactly are you asking for?

                                    Is it validation that this obscure wine is not "up to snuff," regardless of the appelation's awards, or validation that you just do not like this wine?

                                    It seems as though you have ruled out most of the common flaws, so what else can one offer?

                                    Good luck, and hope that you find better wines.

                                    Hunt

                                    1. re: Bill Hunt

                                      Maria, with a reference I couldn't find, put her finger on the problem

                                      "Jamain's problems with grape rot and unstabilzed wines, and his high risk of vinifying organically when bad molds/rot are prevalent in a vineyard. It's the perfect storm for weak/thin wine."

                                      Not a wine problem I had ever ecountered before.

                                      1. re: collioure

                                        Got you, and thanks for the clarification - producer issues.

                                        Thanks and good luck,

                                        Hunt

                                      2. re: Bill Hunt

                                        Sorry, Bill, I should have warned you . . . ;^)

                      2. Not too many Loire winemakers with an MBA from UCLA are sold by both Kermit Lynch and Richards Walford, so it must be Denis Jamain of Domaine de Reuilly.

                        So, here are my guesses as to the problem with the wines:

                        1. Best guess: Corked. Previous bottles of same vintage were corked, so the other lifeless bottles may also be corked, enough to kill the fruit, but not enough to have the characteristic TCA smell. Acidity may actually be volatile acidity.

                        The entire vintage may not be corked, just a portion of it.

                        2. Organic wine that has died. The winery is EU certified organic, and has been problematically converting to biodynamic, so the wines may have died because Jamain reduced the sulfur to too low a level. Common with organically vinified wines: They die after 6 months.

                        3. "Dumb phase." The wine is in a temporarily arrested state and will come back to life. It happens.

                        4. Needs aging. Some of the write-ups say Jamain's wines take years to open up. Read the Cellartracker notes from Denis Jamain/Domaine de Reuilly, and you'll find the Pinot Noirs are lean/austere or fairly shut down. But the reviews may not be accurately describing the problem or the wines.

                        5. Cooked. Too much heat in transporting or storage. Wine has died.

                        6. Oxidation before color change. There would other clues to this as well.

                        7. Brett. Eats fruit. Wine is lifeless and dull.

                        In truth, the wine may suffer from a combination of errors or flaws.

                        Jamain has had a good deal of trouble with rot in his Pinot Noir so that may be the problem right there. Google to find out more.

                        Because of the rot and/or poor weather, he may have had to pick early (the grapes had too little fruit flavor), and may have used too little sulfur to stabilize what little fruit he had.

                        If there is a problem with several purchases of Jamain's wine, the winemaker is the one to tell. Kindly, of course. But the winemaker is the only one who can correct the problems. Jamain is a bright man. You might appeal to his expertise.

                        Kermit Lynch Page on Domaine de Reuilly: http://kermitlynch.com/our_wines/doma...

                        Richards Walford page on Denis Jamain and Domaine de Reuilly: http://www.r-w.co.uk/index.php?option...

                        Richards Walford write-up of Domaine de Reuilly wines in March, 2012: http://www.r-w.co.uk/images/stories/f...
                        Denis Jamain/Domaine de Reuilly Winery website: http://www.denisjamain.com/english_ve...

                        Bio from Richard Kelley; Jamain's MBA from UCLA:
                        http://www.richardkelley.co.uk/reuill...

                        Domaine de Reuilly on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Domain...

                        Cellar Tracker reviews:
                        Say the 2010 Pinot Noir is lean, austere and flat.
                        Another review says, "Give this another 12 months."
                        http://www.cellartracker.com/wine.asp...

                        This 2009 tasting note says the Pinot Noir was flat on the palate: http://www.cellartracker.com/wine.asp...

                        This all would have been much easier, of course, had you posted the name of the wine.

                        Give us an update on your new purchases when you have a moment.

                        22 Replies
                        1. re: maria lorraine

                          Now there's a bright lady who does her homework!

                          FYI I didn't disrespect anyone here. I simply protected the name of the vintner.

                          NB: I asked, "What could be the problem with this wine?"

                          Your comprehensive list is excellent (thank you!).

                          However, before I forget, I do want to note that in my recent Internet ramblings I learned that 2010 was a fine vintage for Reuilly reds. The whites were excellent too.
                          http://www.vin-vigne.com/millesimes/a...

                          Here is the decription of the wine from the vintner: great aromatic intensity with the flavors of red fruit: strawberries, morello cherries, and cassis. Good balance of flavors, round in mouth, finish without bitterness and without astringency, tannins integrated very well in final.

                          I will note the vintner sent this wine to this propective client as a sample. He wanted to prove that his wine was worthy as I had already had 4 bottles from another vintage that I think had died in storage elsewhere.

                          So I doubt he sent something he knew to be flawed. Moreover, this particular wine and an other 2010 red are for sale on his website. Nevertheless I am intrigued by #1 (part of vintage corked), #7 (Brett) and, of course, #5 (mishandling).

                          BTW I have been exchanging messages with the vintner. He seems quite disappointed by my experiences and apparently at wit's end suggested I try another appellation.

                          To be continued.

                          1. re: collioure

                            Please continue at some point. Despite my withdrawal, I am interested in the outcome.

                            1. re: collioure

                              If you want to protect the name of the vintner don't provide enough hints to identify him. Kermit Lynch imports only three Loire Pinot Noirs and only one of them is an AOC.

                              "Flawed" can be a matter of some controversy with low-sulfur / natural wines. More than once I've been happily appreciating such a wine while someone else at the table runs down its showstopper flaws.

                              1. re: collioure

                                Here's one way you might have posed your question more effectively. You praise Jamain highly, touting Jamain's medals and expertise in the appellation, but name him and the winery. Then you say that you tasted of few bottles of Jamain's wine that have been uncharacteristically disappointing, and you ask what might have happened. Respectful and clear communication all around, of Jamain, of you and your problem, of the Chowhounds you were asking for help. Had you done so, we could have helped you with reviews, links and commentary. Far from being unknown on the Wine Board, Reuilly has come up in 8 separate threads (I checked).

                                1. re: maria lorraine

                                  Maria, I never wanted to discuss the vintner. Several of you did, and I'm not convinced identifying him has gotten us any closer to the answer. (FYI I already had just about all the links you provided.)

                                  I was looking for that list of 7 possible reasons.

                                  I didn't praise this vintner highly. I said he was significant. I've yet to taste a drinkable bottle of his wine, which until now I attribute to bad luck. I don't read that he is the best vintner there. Claude Lafond, whose wine I have enjoyed already, may have that distinction.

                                  1. re: collioure

                                    Just a small amount of Googling reveals Jamain's problems with grape rot and unstabilzed wines, and his high risk of vinifying organically when bad molds/rot are prevalent in a vineyard. It's the perfect storm for weak/thin wine.

                                    Once we knew the name of the wine, we were able to look it up, and discover others had issues with it also.

                                    Which is why I don't agree with your not naming the wine or the vintner -- instead setting up some silly guessing game where you reveal the vintner indirectly but still say you're "protecting" him.

                                    Or backpedaling now saying you didn't highly praise the vintner when you clearly did.

                                    This could have been so much easier and helpful to everyone.

                                    1. re: maria lorraine

                                      Well, I do thank you for your diligent work. You apparently found a reference or two that I didn't. And it didn't seem like you had any difficulty identifying the vintner. I did not want to identify him because I wasn't certain any of these bad bottles were his fault. I just wanted some ideas as to why they were undrinkable.

                                      In fact I'm still trying to work this out. Why would he send me a case he knew to be bad?

                                      Now I certainly did not highly praise M Jamain. How could I? I've not yet opened a drinkable bottle of his wine.

                                      I'll know more when I open the bottles I buy in Paris next week. I am also considering the Reuillys of Claude Lafond represented by Nicolas. This looks to be an appellation I want to buy every two years.

                                      1. re: collioure

                                        "So he’s no slouch."

                                        " . . . recognized as the best in the appellation."

                                        "one of the stalwarts . . . too many awards."

                                        Oysh . . . .

                                        1. re: collioure

                                          When there's bottle variation, no one can tell whether a given bottle is off without opening it.

                                          The winery might be in denial about such problems.

                                          1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                            Do you understand that I have already opened three and they were provided free of charge?

                                            In another vein the time may come when discreetly I have to raise that subject armed with the analysis posted here. However, if I don't find another red I like, I will just go on to another winemaker there.

                                            1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                              Well, bottle variation is right on.

                                              I opened the 4th of 6 bottles this evening, fully expecting to have to open the Fleurie waiting in the wings, but the the wine inside was correct.

                                              I wouldn't say that the wine was exactly this, but it did have a prominent nose

                                              Nez :
                                              • Grande intensité aromatique aux saveurs de fruits rouges : fraises griottes et cassis

                                              Bouche :
                                              • Bon équilibre des saveurs
                                              • Rond en bouche
                                              • Final sans amertume et sans astringence
                                              • Tannins très bien intégrés en final

                                              1. re: collioure

                                                Why are you posting the winemaker's words, without attribution or quotes, lifting his copy directly?

                                                Those are the winemaker's notes.

                                                Where are YOUR OWN tasting notes?

                                                What you posted are Jamain's words, found here:
                                                http://www.denisjamain.com/images/fic...

                                                1. re: maria lorraine

                                                  I think it's clear that those are the winemaker's words. I indicated earlier that I had a description from the winemaker. I was mistaken. I had many others, but I did eventually get this one.

                                                  In any case the wine is drinkable. I didn't like it enough to want to buy it.

                                                  However, I will be trying other Jamain and Lafond Reuilly rouges soon. And I have asked M Jamain if he would like to comment on the problem you detailed.

                                                  1. re: collioure

                                                    Wasn't clear to me . . . I just thought you wrote YOUR tasting notes, and didn't bother to translate them . . . .

                                                  2. re: maria lorraine

                                                    My further thoughts on this wine, the Fossiles rouge 2010, is that it's astringent with short fruit. I'll try it again tomorrow with dinner, but I have lots to do before I leave town on Wednesday.

                                                    1. re: collioure

                                                      I spoke too soon, just happy to have something drinkable in the 4th bottle. Overnight it disintegrated into the same tasteless, structureless mess as the liquid in the first three bottles.

                                                      Moving on to another producer in Reuilly - Claude Lafond

                                          2. re: collioure

                                            So wrong. So incredibly wrong.

                                            We are not with you. We cannot taste the wine with you. So -- in the first place -- asking "What's wrong with this wine?" is like asking us to comment on how good the dinner you made last night was, while we are a continent away.

                                            Had you been straight-forward from the beginning and naming a specific wine (instead of playing stupid games): a) it might have been possible for people here on CH to taste the wine and post *their* impressions; b) we could, as ML has done, googled the wine/winery, learned of potential problems with regard to viticultural or enological practices; c) we could have found other posts from other people, in France and elsewhere, who have experience similar issues with their wines, OR discovered that NO ONE else has reported problems; d) -- do you want me to continue???

                                            Instead this has been a frustrating, irritating, and all-but-useless waste of time and energy.

                                        2. re: collioure

                                          "BTW I have been exchanging messages with the vintner. He seems quite disappointed by my experiences and apparently at wit's end suggested I try another appellation."

                                          Sounds to me that he is politely telling you that the problems is with the buyer

                                          1. re: kagemusha49

                                            That's right, but he is mistaken.

                                            No one who posts here would drink this particular wine.

                                            1. re: collioure

                                              And so you're wasting everyone's time by . . . .

                                        3. re: maria lorraine

                                          Sheesh! Maria, will you please adopt me??

                                          1. re: Midlife

                                            Well, of course. But I have so many children already. It's embarrassing enough as it is.

                                          1. There are several 2010 Jamain Pinot Noirs available near me, I'd be curious to know which we're talking about here so I could try one.

                                            4 Replies
                                              1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                                Thank you for the offer,, but please
                                                let me see if other bottlings are similar first.

                                                1. re: collioure

                                                  Why? This is the fundamental point. How can we tell you what's wrong with your automobile if you aren't (weren't) even telling us the make and model of the car (so we could check to see if there were any recalls or service bulletins issued on that model), let alone letting us look under the hood, start the engine, hear the engine knocking, etc.

                                                  1. re: zin1953

                                                    Patience, Jason, please.

                                                    I will come back from Paris next weekend with one or two bottles from other Jamain vineyards, and when I need to open a light, acidic red for dinner (with tuna grilled for a minute on each side, for example), we will know more.

                                                    I have a long term interest in this appellation as I am going to start ordering many more wines direct in the near future. I will obtain better wines with less effort, and Reuilly can fill two needs in one order.

                                                    FYI this is a country where taste really matters. Even the generic canned spaghetti sauce is rather good whereas in the US all are just dreadful.

                                                    Bad products don't wind up on supermarket shelves, and similarly lousy winemakers don't last for long here. M Jamain didn't get this far making wine such as I received. At the same time Maria’s analysis of his problems with organic wine-making may explain perfectly his problems with this particular wine.

                                              2. PURCHASED TODAY in PARIS

                                                Reuilly rouge 2006 Jamain - and I was advised to let it breath a while before serving

                                                Reuilly rouge 2011 les Landries Claude Lafond

                                                and avoid the Reully 2010 les Fossiles Jamain - BTW M Jamain has not responded to my last two communications regarding this mismade wine. For the life of me I cannot imagine why he sent it to me.