Ask Sid: Decant Burgundy?

December 9th, 2020
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Question: Friends say never decant an old burgundy.  How old does a burgundy have to be so you do this, or do you never decant a burgundy, regardless of age?

Answer: Yes this continues to be a debatable question with strong views. Burgundy tends to be more delicate and fragile than most other wines. You don’t see a lot of decanting when you visit Burgundy but their normal routine is slowly changing. Chardonnay can be closed and often reductive at first so usually it helps to open them up with decanting – especially younger ones. Pinot Noir is an even more difficult decision – especially older ones. Certainly you don’t want to leave those best early impressions of your Burgundy wine for the decanter. On the other hand you don’t want to disturb any sediment with a repeated pouring action resulting in a cloudy hazy appearance in your wine with less velvety textures. Sometimes we pour all the wine out directly into all the glasses in one continuous pour which can work quite well too. Firmly believe you should be able to slowly pour an old red Burgundy (of any age) into a decanter just immediately before service without undue air exposure thereby obtaining the clearest bright true colour of the wine plus smoothest mouthfeel. You soon will be swirling that poured wine glass and getting the initial best first impression of the wine and also have the opportunity to see how it develops. Your scribe always decants all Burgundy immediately before service. However, this is a personal decision and you should decide what you prefer. Certainly different opinions are out there making for an interesting discussion.

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December 9th, 2020

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