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07.07.2005

The '96 White Burgundy Time Bomb

I don't have a lot of room or patience for aging wines. I tuck a few bottles away for a few years, but I'm not a collector bent on enjoying my wines for decades. I drink most of what I buy within 5 or 6 years. That's especially true for white wines, which I tend to consume in the first 3 or 4 years of their lifespan. I have recently started putting away an occasional white Burgundy or Chenin Blanc just to see what time does to these bottles.

It looks like it's a good thing I didn't start with 1996 White Burgundies. In what appears to be a spookily consistent manner, like one species of fish starting to wash up on the shore, 1996 White Burgundies are dying by the case.

You know this has to be pretty widespread for it to be considered a real phenomenon instead of isolated cases of poor cellarage by less than competent retailers, restaurateurs, and collectors. No, thanks to Michael Steinberger and Slate Magazine, I've learned that this is really some sort of epidemic.

People are even doing recalls of the wine for refunds. The odd thing is, that now I really have a hankering for 1996 White Burgundy. Perhaps that's just the wine equivalent of the tendency that makes us actually take a morsel of food proffered by a friend with the exclamation "oh, gosh, this is awful. Try it..."

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