Jean-Marc Quarin is a specialist, proudly independent writer on the wines of Bordeaux and sends out regular emails on the subject in both French and English. The following extract from today's email caught my eye and I thought you too might be interested in this quick summary of his recent conversations with Ch Mouton Rothschild's talented winemaker Philippe Dhalluin, described by Quarin as 'the man who, since 2005, has been responsible for Mouton Rothschild's comeback to the highest of levels'.
He first recounts the results of an experiment with different decanting times for Mouton 1996, a wine he told Dhalluin had always disappointed him. Dhalluin said that this wine, the last vintage made by maître de chai Michel Bosc, needs to be decanted well in advance, and their tastings of various samples suggested that decanting five hours before serving yielded optimum results.
Quarin then lists the following changes that have been made at Mouton since 2003:
- Today the barrels are not so charred as they used to be - a trend that was started in 2000.
- The fermentation now takes place at a lower temperature, never above 29 ºC.
- The amount of press wine in the blend has been cut down to around 10-12%; it used to be up to 20%.
- But above all, the pattern of the harvest has been altered. Mouton used to bring in all its plots in eight days; today, it takes a good 20 days. Each varietal [he means variety, of course - JR] is picked according to its optimum maturity.
So is all this likely to affect how the young vintages react to decantation? Well, you will get some answers with my tasting notes (to be published soon) on two Mouton-Rothschild verticals that took place in a private cellar in Switzerland last month, with vintages ranging from 1988 to 2007.
You can find out more at www.quarin.com.