I just returned from a vacation in Italy and visiting wineries in Montalcino. We visited 13 wineries in 4 days and it was quite the experience. All the wineries except one gave us a detailed tour of the vineyards, wine fermentation area and tanks, and wine cellars. Naturally they all had tastings. The one winery that did not include a detailed tour was in the middle of their harvest.

During the tastings I asked 12 of the hosts “Should I decant your Brunello and if so for how long?” The all replied “Do NOT decant!” They were adamant. They said pour a little out to test the wine taking it to the middle of shoulder and let it set for a few hours. As an alternate some said you could pour into the glass and let it breathe for 30 to 45 minutes before drinking.

I thought that was interesting because so many people say to decant Brunello.

Jim

P.S. I plan to post a review of all the wineries as time allows.
Original Post
quote:
Originally posted by Jcocktosten:
Thanks. I have largely followed this practice at Futronic and perhaps Longboarder's advise for many years


Exactly. I agree with all the producers: don't decant.

JShearerii:

I know you are new to the forum, so welcome. There's a thread on this exact topic from a few years ago in which it was discussed. It has a ton of information in it, so I think it would be a good read for you.

Glad you enjoyed Montalcino. It's a wonderful place!
Futronic,

Thanks for the tip regarding the old threads. I just finished reading them.

It is strange to me that so many publications recommend decanting reds. For example Wine Folly specifically says all reds benefit from decanting. That's why I asked the wineries in Montalcino if they recommend decanting.
quote:
Originally posted by futronic:
quote:
Originally posted by Jcocktosten:
Thanks. I have largely followed this practice at Futronic and perhaps Longboarder's advise for many years


Exactly. I agree with all the producers: don't decant.

JShearerii:

I know you are new to the forum, so welcome. There's a thread on this exact topic from a few years ago in which it was discussed. It has a ton of information in it, so I think it would be a good read for you.

Glad you enjoyed Montalcino. It's a wonderful place!


I would add that I always insist on this and every once in a while FKG says she thinks it could use a decant and I say but Jay has always said no and she usually agrees.
If you're going to pour it into a glass and let it sit for 30-45 minutes, how would decanting be detrimental? Especially if there is sediment, and you need to let the wine be exposed to air, decanting would seem logical.
It isn't. The wine is decanted into the glass. People who believe otherwise buy into the illogical thought that Brunello is somehow different when decanted into a decanter, rather than when decanted into a glass.
quote:
Originally posted by Board-O:
If you're going to pour it into a glass and let it sit for 30-45 minutes, how would decanting be detrimental? Especially if there is sediment, and you need to let the wine be exposed to air, decanting would seem logical.

I agree with this as well. I'm not chiming in on whether BdM should be decanted or not, but if you're pouring nearly 1/4 of the bottle out 30-45 minutes prior to drinking, that seems very similar to decanting.
I don't agree with pouring into the glass and waiting 30-45 minutes. I pour a small portion into a glass to taste leaving the wine in the bottle to mid shoulder. I do this 2-3 hours prior to drinking. If you decant I feel that the subtle aromatics are lost. Others may disagree but my experience tells me otherwise. I never decant brunello.
If allowing the wine to breathe in the glass, or in the open bottle, is OK but decanting into a decanter is not OK, then this is simply a matter of "gentle slow" aeration versus faster aeration.

Tonight I am drinking a beautiful 2001 Conti Costanti BdM Riserva. I let it breathe in the glass rather than decant it, because I am too lazy to wash the decanter afterwards. So perhaps I am doing the right thing, for the wrong reason.
I have a small selection of 2006 and 2010 BdMs. The next time I open one, I will pour some into a glass and decant the rest and taste them at the same times. I would love to do this with some one who thinks there'll be a difference.
quote:
Originally posted by Javachip:

I let it breathe in the glass rather than decant it, because I am too lazy to wash the decanter afterwards.


That is lazy, especially seeing as how busy you are! Razz Big Grin

I generally do not decant Brunello, but every once in a while I pull one that has a significant amount of sediment. Rather than drink sludge in the last couple of glasses, I will decant and then pour it back into the rinsed bottle right away.
You beat lots of air into it when you pour out and then back into the bottle, so limiting any further exposure becomes rather pointless. I don't understand pouring it back in either, unless you decant into something like a coffee pot or saucepan and you find it inconvenient to serve from that.

I've heard the technique called a "Bordeaux decant", but I don't think anyone in Bordeaux calls it that. Could be because sometimes they people showing wine would do that to get rid of sediment in old bottles that might be passed around, but they wanted to make sure that people still saw the label.

The only point of decanting that I know of besides removing sediment and avoiding an ugly label on the table, is to let some of the sulfur compounds react with air so they sink back into the wine. We call that "blowing off" and it can be nice for grapes that are pretty reductive naturally, like Mourvèdre or even Syrah.

But then if you leave the wine on the lees for a while, I guess you can get some funk in the wine as well, even with other grapes. I don't know that Sangiovese is particularly reductive - someone can correct me on that please, but I don't think it's like Mourvèdre or even Barbera in that respect.

In any event, after the initial bottle funk dissipates, I've always found that aromatic wines tend to remain aromatic.
Honestly what's really the difference between decanting a bottle for an hour, letting an open bottle sit a few hours, or leaving wine to sit in your glass for 30-45 minutes? I usually drink the whole bottle, so what's the point?
Perhaps pouring some wine into the glass and letting it sit there for a while gives the amount poured the same exposure to air as if it had been decanted. But surely the wine remaining in the bottle receives somewhat less oxidation as only the upper surface is in contact with air, unlike decanting the whole thing which as Greg pointed out will "beat lots of air" into the liquid. I would assume that over an extended period of time there could be some difference between wine that has been entirely decanted and wine that has been left in its bottle for the same period.

This could be the focus of the next VinT post-midnight experiment. Smile
GregT, I do realize it is kind of pointless hence the question mark after my reply to Board-O's question. Some silly habit I picked up years ago and still haven't completely stopped. Again, it's not very common that a Brunello has a lot of sediment.

One reason to do it is decanting a wine being taken to a BYO restaurant.

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