Common wisdom holds that good Pinot Noir should be consumed either while young, or left alone to mature in the cellar for at least five years. About a year or so after release, Pinot Noir shuts down in the bottle. What happens to the wine during those adolescent years? Chemically speaking, I don't know, but I would be interested to learn. With regard to aroma and flavor, the fruit goes away and the wine is awkward. Makes for unpleasant drinking during these years. Some people call this the dumb phase.
If you think about it, the life cycle of Pinot is like the life cycle of a typical person. Delicious, plump, and sweet as children, easy to love. Adolescence brings moodiness, an awkward appearance, and an affinity for hanging out with friends in dark and humid places. But if well cared for, the awkward adolescent blossoms into a mature person with many aspects to their personality. Enough time, however, and this mature person begins to decline.
Thank you for that illuminating babble. Anyway...
2005 Paul Pernot Beaune Clos du Dessus des Marconnets is a beautiful wine and a great value (between $23-30, depending on where you shop) in a wonderful but expensive Burgundy vintage. I tasted and then bought more of this wine back in January. I enjoyed another bottle with BrooklynLady in February after our daughter was born. I haven't opened a bottle since then.
My good buddy Adam called the other night to tell me that his dinner guests were about to arrive, he'd opened and decanted a bottle of the Pernot, and it was terrible. Not moldy, no sweat socks - in other words, not corked. Just bad. No fruit, astringent, alcoholic. "What's up with that," he asked "This wine was great a few months ago."
I hung a stethoscope around my neck and asked Adam if he checked the level of the cork before opening the bottle. He assured me that it was below the level of the glass. Okay - not cooked by heat. The symptoms didn't sound like heat exhaustion anyway, but I have to administer tests in order to rule out certain things, don't I?
So I told him that it's possible that the wine is now in a dumb phase, and that its progression in the decanter may mirror its life cycle - that it might become tasty again in a few hours or longer. Or not. So what happened?
In Adam's words:
Upon first opening, I tasted wild strawberries with a tart finish and some pine
forest. After 5 minutes, it was undrinkable. It tasted like pinetar or lacquer.
Then, after 30 minutes, still pinetar. Smelled like lacquer or rubbing alcohol.
Then, after 1 hour, beginning to mellow but still pinetar. Then after 2 hours,
really beginning to mellow, but still pinetar. More fruit though. Dark cherry
smell mixed with the pinetar.
Then, after 3 hours, pinetar is gone. Now, it's dark cherries, strawberries, andSo it sounds like dumb phase, alright. Adam went on to say things like "Brooklynguy, you really are a special person, one in a million, sharp as a tack," and other things like that, but I'll leave that stuff out and stick to the wine related material.
raspberries. There's some acidity to the finish and underbrush or forest flavors
too. Excellent. I'm going to wait until 2009 before trying another bottle though
(and Burghound agrees, by the way).
So - do you agree with the dumb phase diagnosis? Have you experienced this with Pinot? Please share your experiences and opinions, if you will.