The joy of oxidation

For me oxidation and TCA are at opposite ends of the spectrum of acceptability of wine faults.  If I think I detect the merest whiff of TCA, the wine is undrinkable as far as I am concerned.  But at the other end of the spectrum, I have enjoyed many oxidised wines.

Of course, some styles of wine are oxidised by design, and some of my best experiences ever came from such wines.  I am in particular thinking of a bottle of 1959 Leacock’s Sercial that I slowly worked my way through over the period of several months.

Amongst wines not designed to be oxidised, and which have given pleasure, three spring to mind.  One was the oxidised Rieussec 1985 I mentioned in a blog post a couple of months ago.  Less grand was a bottle of wine at a cheap and cheerful restaurant-cum-café I drank a few years ago.  It was also sold by the glass and I suspect the bottle we got had been open a while and topped up with a little fresh wine. I was about to send it back when I suddenly realised it probably tasted better with the slight tang of oxidation than it did without, and it worked well with the eclectic spicy food.  The third wine I am thinking of, I bought  heavily discounted in 2005: Vindemia, Vi de Criança, Terra Alta DOC, Xavier Clua Coma, 1999.  It was amber, and delicious.  I thought at the time it was meant to be oxidised, but now I doubt it.  Either way, it was so wonderful I returned to the shop and bought a case.

I am not saying all oxidised wine is good.  I recently encountered an oxidised Chablis, and all you could really say of it is that it tasted flat, and I don’t think oxidation ever does anything for red wines.  I would also be less than amused if an expensive wine turned out to taste more like Sherry than the Burgundy Grand Cru that it really was.  But sometimes, just sometimes, it can be worth pausing and thinking before you send an oxidised wine back or pour it down the sink.

About Steve Slatcher

Wine enthusiast and software engineer
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