Does it bother you when New World Chardonnay or Riesling comes in a Bordeaux bottle? It does me, and I wonder why. After all, I am out there in front decrying corks and urging winemakers to use screw caps, which offends the sensibilities of some I call snobs. So what does that make me when I cringe at a Gewürztraminer in a Burgundy bottle?
I guess I am a bottle snob.
We joke about it in the tasting room. In a row of bagged-up and coded Rieslings, all in their familiar tall, narrow bottles, if one is in a high-shouldered Bordeaux bottle, someone is sure to quip "Five-point deduction for the bottle on 11D." Sometimes, however, my wily tasting coordinator, Gus, has decanted a wine from an easily identified bottle into something more common. But when the bag comes off and it's the real bottle, I wonder what they're thinking.
I like the tradition of certain bottle shapes for certain wines.
Wines made from Bordeaux varieties (Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Sauvignon Blanc) go in the traditional high-shouldered bottle. Burgundy varieties (Chardonnay, Pinot Noir) go in the wide, slope-shouldered bottle. Germanic varieties (Riesling, Gewürztraminer, Pinot Gris) take the tall, thin bottle.
Except for the exceptions. Italy puts Pinot Grigio (its version of Pinot Gris) in a Bordeaux-style bottle. The Rhône bottles its Syrah-based wines (Hermitage, Côte-Rôtie) in a variation of the Burgundy bottle. Australia bottles most of its Shiraz in Bordeaux-style bottles, but some producers prefer the Burgundy shape.
New World producers occasionally use the bottle shape to signal style. Some Sauvignon Blanc producers put their wines aged in oak Bordeaux-style into Bordeaux bottles. Other use slope-shouldered bottles for crisp, herbal styles to suggest Pouilly-Fumé or Sancerre, which use that bottle shape. Same with PInot Gris, the German bottle for Alsace styles and the Bordeaux bottle for Italian Pinot Grigio styles.
In classic European regions, the bottle shape is mandated by law. In the New World, it's up to the individual producers. And in the end, what really counts is what's inside the bottle. But I can't help it. Riesling in a Bordeaux bottle just seems wrong.
Troy Peterson — Burbank, CA — August 29, 2007 9:12pm ET
Merlin — Zurich, Switzerland — August 30, 2007 3:23am ET
Harvey Steiman — San Francisco, CA — August 30, 2007 11:31am ET
Troy Peterson — Burbank, CA — August 30, 2007 2:28pm ET
Jason Thompson — Foster City, CA — August 30, 2007 9:28pm ET
Peter Czyryca — August 31, 2007 11:03am ET
Brandon Redman — Seattle, WA — August 31, 2007 12:00pm ET
Michael Mock — West Des Moines, IA — September 2, 2007 9:02pm ET
Ashley Potter — LA, — September 4, 2007 5:04pm ET
Tim Webb — high point nc — September 9, 2007 11:38am ET
Ray Juskiewicz — Dallas — September 11, 2007 1:58pm ET
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