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Have been lurking the forum for some time and find a lot of useful information here. My wife and i popped and poured and noticed an overwhelming barnyard characteristic. The next day it was not as pronounced but still there. I really liked the wine but am wondering if this is what to expect from most CDP's or is this a bad example. I hope i made my self clear. Thanks.
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Ditto what Jcocktosten said, but will add that I find the barnyard funk aromas generally blow off after about an hour or so. I opened a 99 Pegau a few months back and it was just as you said. I let mine sit in the decanter for an hour or so before dipping into it and a good portion of that blew off. My first few CdPs were a little disappointing, but I was very intrigued and kept with it. After knowing what to expect I've really fallen in love with CdP.
1999 was not a very good vintage for Cdp even though Vieux Telegraphe and Guigal got good ratings in that vintage. I just had a Cdp tasting last sunday and I noticed some Brett and barnyard smells in the wines from different vintages that were more pronounced than I have previously noticed. I wouldn't let it detour you from further Cdp purchases although I find Cdp wines show best 12 years after the vintage.
In my experience Beaucastel CDP is the poster child for barnyard which, in its case [and others usually], comes from products produced by the action of the wild yeast brettanomyces.

Other CDPs [and other wines in France and elsewhere] have some to a greater and lesser extent although my recent experience of Beaucastel seems to have had less of it.

People just have different reactions and sensitivities to brett i.e. some can smell it and don't mind or even say they like it, some smell it and hate it and some really don't seem to notice it very much even when it is pointed out to them.

As regards the 1999 Pegau it seems pretty clear that there are bottlings from [at least] two different lots in the USA, one of which has provoked pretty negative comments particularly about the amount of brett. The other one has apparently been good although 1999 has not been considered a top Pegau year.

IMO, while I will often hold CDPs for over 10 years [I had my first excellent bottles of 95 Vieux Telegraphe and the rest will now be kept for another few years] the 1999 Pegau is a wine that can and probably should be drunk now.

I am certainly drinking mine and they have been pretty good. Not as good as e.g. the 2001 will become but I am glad I have some [good] 1999s as well. But there has been a somewhat polarised view of the wine here in the UK too.

As with most red wines, particularly those that are made to age, the drinking windows will vary considerably with the vintage, with the best vintages usually benefiting most from extended aging.

However if bottles still have brett in them and there is any remaining material to feed off, the production of 4EP and 4EG and isovaleric acid [the main products that generate the various odours of barnyard, sweaty leather, horsey, mousey, band aid accompanied sometimes by a metallic taste] can apparently continue in bottle, particularly if the bottles have been in a warm place. Therefore age is unlikely to help to resolve the issue and will probably make it worse.
Originally posted by marcb7:

Are you saying give the 99' or the 90' more time? I thought 10-15 yrs was more than sufficient typically? Do you notice the "barnyard" odor to go away after appropriate age?

The '99, although the '90 is a particularly long-lived vintage and may still benefit from another few years.

We had the '88 Beaucastel at an offline a couple of weeks ago. It was tasted about 3 hours after decanting and it was showing very well. I'd figure the '90 to be a 20-30 year wine. The barnyard aroma does dissipate with time. The '88 had just a hint of it. Great fruit emerges as these wines reach optimum.
Originally posted by Board-O:
We had the '88 Beaucastel at an offline a couple of weeks ago. It was tasted about 3 hours after decanting and it was showing very well. I'd figure the '90 to be a 20-30 year wine. The barnyard aroma does dissipate with time. The '88 had just a hint of it. Great fruit emerges as these wines reach optimum.

Well that's interesting. Are you saying that you believe the barnyard aroma dissipates in time because of prior experience with 88 Beaucastel i.e. you had it years ago and it had much more barnyard then but at this recent offline it was much less marked?

Or just that the 88 Beaucastel was largely free of it now which suggested to you that it would reduce with age?

This is a genuine interest just in case you think I’m being picky but I would expect you to know that based on our past exchanges.

If it's the latter I don't think that Beaucastel 88 was ever particularly 'barnyardy' unlike 1989 and particularly the 1990 - 2 very highly rated and long term wines but known [at least in the famous tests commissioned by Charles Collins in 1998, to be very bretty wines - the 1990 very much so]. However I have read TNs on both these wines that hardly remark on the barnyard as well as those who cannot get past it.

The few examples I have had confirm this along with other notorious and also highly rated wines such as the 1989 and 1990 Montrose and other well known Bordeaux and Rhone wines.

I should also check whether you believe that brett is a key factor in the generality of 'barnyard'?

Everything I have read [a lot] and experienced [considerable but less] suggests that barnyard, at least that produced by brett, does not diminish with age in the bottle and will tend to become more pronounced for reasons given in my first post.

However I have participated, witnessed and separately read of groups of people tasting the same wine and disagreeing completely on whether brett/barnyard was compromising a particular wine and indeed whether it was even present.

One of the more famous cases involved Michael Broadbent and Clive Coates in opposite corners when their more usual place was side by side. The same wine split the French and American tasters on that occasion.

By all accounts the 90 Beaucastel will be, as you say, a long lived wine but I wonder whether its inherent funk will become more pronounced or less in the coming years. The chemistry would not suggest less although kept in ideal conditions the brett should not bloom – so at best no reduction.

As far as brett/barnyard [whether one believes these terms are inextricably linked is important in this discussion] blowing off in the decanter/glass I assume that should be possible to some extent since these components are volatile phenols - so some at least should 'volatilise'.

Volatile acidity [primarily acetic acid sometimes with an ethyl acetate component] another ‘smelly’ manifestation even more common to winemaking will also provoke a debate concerning the level at which a particular wine becomes compromised since some will be present in all wine. Chateau Musar and its apparent ability to 'integrate' it is a regular discussion point concerning VA. However for all wines, at some point it can become overwhelming and an obvious flaw which simply won’t disappear.

However what seems highly important is individual sensitivity to these compounds. Are they sensed and if so at what level. And is the sensation pleasant, neutral or repulsive?
Last edited by nigelgroundwater

Just FWIW,

I am in the camp that Brett is Brett and "barnyard" is "barnyard" -- they overlap sometimes, but do not directly coincide. I've actually found the amount of Brett in the '89 and '90 Montrose a little overwhelming, but there is certainly far less of it than there is "barnyard" in the '99 Pegau -- something I didn't really mind. (Actually, while very ripe, I also find Pegau to have mosre barnyard in it than most other CdPs, irrespective of vintage.)
A couple of chemical points to make here. Nigel's post is excellent.

The compounds 4EP and 4EG which are a by product of Brett yeast, occur AFTER Brett has been active. By the time you can detect them, it's too late. As Brett infection can very from bottle to bottle, the amount of 4EP and 4EG and even if Brett remains active can vary from bottle to bottle.

4EP and 4EG do not 'blow' off', or desipate with air or age. They can in fact get worse with air and time. With air as volitale aromas disipate, the 4EP and 4EG will get worse as it is more concentrated. With time 4EP and 4EG can continue to build in bottle if you have and active Brett culture in bottle.

I believe that their is some confusion about 'barnyard' in many CDP's. The Mourvedre grape goes through a particularly stinky part of it's evolution between ages 4 and 10. Up to age 4 it has flavors of herbs and dark berries. After age 10 it is floral with notes of gingerbread and dried herbs. In between, it can be very stinky. Leathery, and 'barnyardy'.

Combine that with the fact that many CDP's do have Brett and you've got a weird funk going on and the barnyard does seem to go away with time as the Mourvedre matures. It's why absolute statements about how any bottle of CDP will mature are impossible in my opinion.

Personally I don't mind some amount of barnyard in wines I drink. Growing up I spent summers at our family ranch in New Mexico. The smell of a barnyard is a pleasant memory. I often use the example of lighter fluid on a grill. For many American's it's a pleasant smell, bringing memories of summer BBQ's and family gatherings. It's actually though a revolting smell, but we tend to not mind it.

I'd never release a wine I thought had Brett though, and I won't let any barrel in my cellar that smells of Brett. All my cleaning in the winery is aimed to keep Brett and other bad bugs out. I'm very serious about it. All barrels are rotated out after a maximum of three uses. We scrub every drop of wine up that hits the floor and every nook and cranny is cleaned, barrels topped twice a month, everything we can do to keep it out. I do view it as a fault. Something a winemaker can and should prevent.

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