Thursday, December 8, 2011

The gentle art of re-corking old wines

The Grange and rare Penfolds red wine re-corking clinic, run in conjunction with Langton’s, is of world’s best practice. The wine will be eligible for re-corking if appreciable ullage has developed, or there are signs of seeping. The existing cork is removed and a very small amount of the wine is removed to check its condition. If there is any problem with the wine (oxidation, excess volatility, and/or cork taint) the wine will be re-sealed with an unbranded cork, but is not topped up. If it is in good condition for its age, it will be topped up and a branded cork will be inserted. A slip label on the back of the bottle will disclose that the wine was re-corked at the Langton’s clinic, and specifies the date. Re-corking has been a major cause for concern in Bordeaux in particular in the wake of the much-publicised activities of Hardy Rodenstock. Anthony Barton, owner of Chateau Leoville Barton and Chateau Langoa Barton (second and third growth chateaux respectively) has come out in typical forthright fashion saying “I’m against re-corking: 99 times out of 100 it’s a racket...the poor auctioneer says the wine has a good level, but it’s only been good for the last two weeks, not the last 20 years.” When, several years ago, I investigated the possibility of having Chateau Lafite re-cork a double magnum of its 1865 vintage wine, I learnt that the Chateau will not re-cork wines older than 1945. It may have hardened its position since, but the obvious problem is that by topping a bottle up and inserting a cork which will specify the date of the ‘reconditioning’, there is an implied warranty by the chateau that the wine is of good condition for its age, when in fact it may not be.


Malescoblog said...

I wish I had some wine to recork...lucky sods

sigi hiss said...

i absolutely agree with NOT recorking due to - you mentioned rodenstock - mysterious things that can happen..!!!! additional with every new cork there is the danger of getting TCA thru the new cork. and every cork release a certain amount of phenolics into the wine & this impact is much more than it is for a lets say 5 yerars old wine.

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