Chablis 2020 pyrazines – mea-culpa


Mea culpa because I feel remorse that I should have emphasised this even more in my reports:

I did, however, warn you (my subscribers) with my chapter “The small sting in the tail of 2020 white burgundy” and subsequent discussion in my January report – but, truth be told, like this summer, the situation has moved on from an occasional mosquito bite to something of a wasp-problem…

It’s not quite the hornet’s nest of a problem that we saw with the reds of the 2004 vintage – these 2020 Chablis remain, essentially, drinkable – but if you are sensitive to this chemical then you will be, like me, in a state of constant distraction.

2-Methoxy-3-isobutyl-pyrazineIn my January trip to Chablis, I visited 64 domaines and found a little more than 10% of the wines to be tainted with ‘the green.‘ In March I returned and visited another 20 domaines and this time I would say that more than half of the domaines had some green wines. Last week in Chablis I tasted a couple of grand crus that were free of the taint in January but that’s no longer the case. In my January report, a number of winemakers suggested the possible reason for these pyrazines.

Right now, I would say that almost all 2020s that I am opening at home are starting to show these notes – an evolution that recalls what happened with the 2004 reds. The problem is widespread across the Auxerois – red and white – but not (yet!) 100%.

In the Côte d’Or I have noted in my reports some reds with plenty of pyrazine – isolated in general so with a significantly lower occurance than (I initially found) in the whites of Chablis. Of course, those reds were tasted back in my October-December tastings but recent bottles remain fine. I haven’t noted any greens – that I can recall – in the whites of the Côte d’Or or further south in Chalonnaise/Mâconnais.

That’s about it for now – but I would most definitely taste before I buy today – your possibilities for that will vary…

Agree? Disagree? Anything you'd like to add?

There are 2 responses to “Chablis 2020 pyrazines – mea-culpa”

  1. Dave DeSimone1st August 2022 at 8:39 pmPermalinkReply

    Hi Bil. What is the cause for the pyrazine aromas that you mention? If it widespread in the Auxerre vineyards as you say, then it must have an origin in the vines or on the grape skins possibly? Thanks.

    • billn2nd August 2022 at 6:52 amPermalinkReply

      Hi Dave
      Much discussion in the individual domaine reports (January 2022) from the winemakers themselves – but for the subscribers…

  2. Fred Schilling9th August 2022 at 10:24 pmPermalinkReply

    Essentially the problem seems to arise from picking not ripe enough flavoured grapes where the skins are still immature. The sugar levels may be fine but the flavours which develop from the skins aren’t.

    Can be a particular problem in hot vintages where vignerons are worried about too much alcohol and not enough acidity. So they rush in to harvest more on the numbers than flavours to retain what they consider to be typicity and avoid fat and flabby wines.

    The Hunter Valley vintage of 2000 saw this same problem with semillon but the shiraz turned out well. Perhaps the Burgundians should talk a bit more to their counterparts in the New World. A shame for every region to have to reinvent the wheel when there’s a wealth of knowledge and experience out there.

    My experience with pyrazine in whites where it doesn’t belong is to cellar for a long time so that the bottle developed flavours grow to encompass the unchanging pyrazines. What you end up with is a lifelong lemony freshness (from pyrazine) which can lift the richer, rounder developed flavours and provide a most enjoyable bottle. It is all a matter of relativities in the wine, of course.

    • billn10th August 2022 at 6:57 amPermalinkReply

      Hi Fred
      I hope that your lemony -fresh positivity shines through in the wines – I’d take that, and it’s not as if the wines are undrinkable 😉
      My worry is that they may go the way of the 2011s in Chablis – many dominated by asparagus aromas. So I’m not drinking slowly 😃

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