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I was part of a group that included a winemaker who made "natural wines" (eschewing sulfur as well). We would taste, blind, the current vintage wines (from vineyards we either all shared or were located close together) from barrel -- and the previous vintage or two from bottle.

Over a several year period, in the blind setting, the "Natural wine" from barrel came in first or second. Really good stuff, good material. From bottle the wine always finished last -- with true microbial issues. These wines had not been shipped, had been stored at the winery, etc. But something in their elevage and/or bottling process ruined what should have been exceptional wine.

Adam Lee
Siduri Wines

Kevin Hamel

Hey Alice,

This is not really what one would call a horror story, but a recent bottle of Courtois 100% was gassy and sour (in a malo-in-the-bottle sort of way). We didn't "muscle though" it because, well, there was a bunch of other good wine on the table. Just on of those situations where one shrugs one's shoulders (as I have had to do with my own wines) and say "Welcome to the world of unfined, unfiltered and unsulfured." Which is to say, there's gonna be bottle variation.


And, Kevin, that would be the gamy, right? which vintage, do you remember?

Kevin Hamel

Yes, the Gamay and I believe the vintage was '04; same one we tasted at your place, right?

Ben Wood

Alice, and Adam,
Adam, Do you think that is only because of the lack of sulfur, or was it from carelessness? It is possible to have the wines not be a mess- but is bottle dependent, and I would guess that winemaker did very little in the way of lab work, right?
My Worst was a bottle of gassed up refermenting, sharp and messed up lard des choix . . too bad, I really love the wines they make, but this bottle of red went down the drain (even though I gave it a few hours to straighten up). Ah well . . . the next bottle was back to it's standard deliciousness.


It's hard to know, isn;t it. To work without S02 you have to be extremely clean, and so we dont the the issues of elevage, and so many problems can occur at bottling, do we know the circumstances? Also bottling a wine with known bugs inside is just asking for trouble.

As far as the Lard et Choix, love those wines! And I have had an off bottle. But I love it so much, I don't care about the extra cost (it doesn't cost that much anyway) I'd just reach for another too, Ben.

Vinos Ambiz

I wish I could get my hands on one of those bottles that have 'microbial issues' or are 'gassy', 'sour', etc so I can compare. The only ones I've tasted (and that's not a lot I admit) have all been excellent: Laureano Serres, Samuel Cano, Alfredo Maestro, JR Escodà from Spain and a few French ones.
The 'worst' I can come up with is a bottle of my own Airén 2009 which has oxydized I think. It now tastes like a dry sherry, but it hasen't turned into a biology experiment!!! It didn't have any added sulphur and it was stored in 'sub-optimal' conditions over the summer.
Clean? Tell me about it! I'm constantly complaining to my partner Juan that we spend more time cleaning stuff than actually making wine!!! But it's true, though. if you're working without sulphur cleanliness is extra-important (as are top-quality grapes) (IMHO)


And I love the Airén.

Linus Hollis

I was serving instead of judging at the California State Fair in 1986 or '87 when a table called me over and offered me $50 to even put any of a 1984 Norton [a native grape grown throughout the Midwest] from Missouri. They made a lame "show-me" reference. The wine was fecal, volital and oxidized all at once and I feared the infection I would get [just like them] if it was ingested. I did get off a good line: "Norton, you forgot to take your boots off before you stomped the grapes" in a passable
Honeymooners voice. It smelled like bad wine aerated with natural gas' scent of mercaptans. Dangerous. We labeled the samples "NO smoking let alone drinking"

Account Deleted

I had a bottle of Clos Roche Blanche Gamay turn on me (maybe the '05?) - I did not have AC in the cellar at the time - wasn't putrid, just fizzy & a little sour, reminded me of some '74 Lugnarotti wines that re-fermented in the bottle (I guess malo - how well was malo understood in '74?).


Hi Peter, I had one of those go south on me too, probably a combination of things including that damned synthetic cork (which I believe is history).


LInus! eeuh, sounds awful.


I'm surprised how few bad experiences I have had. The ones I have had haven bee with wines from Castello di Lispida. I have had two undrinkable bottles of their white amphora aged wine, a tocai, and one red that just smelled of old rubber boots.

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