A Tale of Two Corks (Never Judge a Wine by Its Enclosure)

20130930_220103
Just when I thought I had understood, at least roughly, the relationship between the condition of a bottle’s cork enclosure and its contents within, I come across this, throwing what I more or less knew out the window.

I was very fortunate to acquire two bottles of 2003 Mount Mary Pinot Noir. I opened the first after giving the wine about a week to settle. It was very good, but not great. Lovely colour, soft and silky on the palate, with a pleasant earthy character. It needed some time in the decanter to come together, and when it did, it was immensely enjoyable.

Despite all that, I have to admit that I was slightly disappointed. I sort of expected more. Don’t get me wrong: it was a very classy wine, comparable to a fine village-level Burgundy (just short of Premier Cru status). However, this felt like it had already peaked and didn’t appear to have much staying power.

Several weeks later, I couldn’t resist giving it another try, so I opened the second bottle.

Woah, what a huge difference!

This time, it seemed very youthful,  with lots of power in the fruit, mellowed into a harmoniously luxurious and seductive wine, redolent of chocolate, truffle, rich ripe fruit, lovely secondary characters with hints of mint, liquorice, anise and other spices. Simply sublime!  Comparable to a top quality Premier Cru (or even Grand Cru) Burgundy.

This wine bore a similar “character” or soul, as I like to think of it, as the first. After all, it is the same wine. Both acquired at the same time from the same source; both have the same provenance and were cellared professionally.

So why this amazing difference?

20131017_155930
I examined the corks from both bottles. Guess which cork was from the second (better) bottle, and which was from the first.

20131017_160003
Surprisingly, the tired looking cork on the left (the slightly distorted one with purple stain running down it) came from the *better* bottle, while the nearly perfect one on the right came from the first bottle!

Go figure.

I think both had similar ullage to start with, so why the difference? I guess I may never know… Wine is like people: with an organic, evolving life. Even identical twins brought up under similar environments can turn out differently.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s