Thanks to a tip from Mark, one of my readers who is obviously more caught up on his wine blog reading than I, I’d like to point you to a very interesting post by Tyler over at Dr. Vino about his somewhat startling encounter with Franz Leth, a winemaker in Austria and his tendency to open up older library bottles of his white wines (Pinot Blanc, Gruner Veltliner, Riesling, etc.) and if they are still good, recork them and sell them. Not typical for Austrian white wine, but certainly not an unheard of practice in the wine world, where old Bordeaux wines are regularly recorked for longer term storage.
The startling point comes with the fact that in addition to recorking these old bottles, the winemaker adds some wine from the current vintage to top up the bottles before he recorks them!
So try a bottle of 1983 Franz Leth Weissburgunder (Pinot Blanc) like Tyler did, and you’re getting a lot of 1983 and a little of 2003 (or some other current vintage) mixed together. No note on the dusty bottle, no reclassification of the year, only the new cork to show that something has been done.
This is a singularly odd practice that has me scratching my head. I find it hard to believe that this is even legal according to the appellation practices in Austria.
Of course, the winemaker is free to do whatever he wants, especially if he thinks it is improving the product he provides to his customers. But there’s just something…..wrong with buying a 20-year-old Riesling only to find that it doesn’t taste anything like the flavors you buy a 20-year-old Riesling to taste anyway.
Anyhow, it’s worth a jump over to Dr. Vino for a looksee and to read the discussion that has ensued.
As for me, I think I will always prefer my old wines in all their unadulterated glory (or lackluster), at least that way I know honestly how they taste.