1) Ullage in young bottle; 2) comments on Corsican Sangiovese (Niellucciù)

I collected an online order from our government monopoly retail system (the "LCBO") today, i.e., it was purchased unseen and could not be inspected until collected. Among the order was one bottle of Castello di Volpaia Riserva Chianti Classico 2016. On inspection, it has enough ullage seemingly to present some concern, but I am wondering how concerned I should be and what advice board members might have. Photos (hopefully) below.

Some considerations:
- I can return it no problem for a full refund (in a few days when the ordering system allows for this to take place);
- I bought this wine to age for a reasonable period, not to drink immediately;
- The way that the LCBO sells wines like this through their monthly online "Classics" offerings is that you are lucky to get anything at all as everything worth having sells out almost immediately. There is no more of this wine left. If I want to drink this wine, this is probably the only opportunity I will have;
- There is no sign of leakage or stains (or protruding cork) at all;
- I cannot see any holes in the foil, i.e., I don't think somebody has coravined some away;
- If this were a 20+ year old wine (for example), I would not be particularly concerned with this level of ullage, so if the cork seal is OK, perhaps ageing will still be OK(?);
- Given the lack of leakage, presumably this is a fault on the bottling line. This is surprising and makes me wonder what other problems might be evident through bottle line failure;
- As the retailer is our provincial LCBO government system, I doubt that I could negotiate a reduced price, so it will be either keep it and risk it, or return it for full price.
- It was not a "cheap" wine under the pricing in our monopoly retail system or as far as my budget goes.

I am tempted to keep it. But having said that, if it were on a shelf and I was considering buying it, I wouldn't do so. I've never tried to age a bottle that wasn't filled properly, so don't know if this much air will make any difference, although I am thinking probably not really.

Would you keep it? If so, when would you plan to drink it?

(I am aware that this is very much a first world problem!)

Thanks for any advice . . .20210225_190242.jpg20210225_190304.jpg
 
Flip a coin, Greg. (I'm not trying to be flippant :rolleyes:).

You've stated the issue and the arguments for both sides very well.

I guess it would depend on how much I really wanted to taste the wine vs. what I else I could buy with the same money.
 
Last edited:
As Claude states you have laid out your dilemma pretty well!

If you wanted it to begin and replacement isn't an option I'd keep it with a mind to opening on the earlier side of the window you had in mind.

If it is faulty/oxidised at that point do you have option to bring that up - in the WSO way - with the LCBO then?

I'd take some decent dated pictures now for that event if needed. Let's hope not.
 
Sounds like a low fill, you’d have to be going some to have that much ullage at this point. However there will be consequences and I’d go with Alex and drink it on the short side of your intended drinking window and make some allowances when considering the wine.

Or you could just return it....
 
Given that:

- I bought this wine to age for a reasonable period, not to drink immediately;

I would send it back, as I’d always have doubts that it was fit for that purpose, until I pulled the cork it would continue to bug me rather than provide me the satisfaction I paid for of something to look forward to.
 
Given that:

- I bought this wine to age for a reasonable period, not to drink immediately;

I would send it back, as I’d always have doubts that it was fit for that purpose, until I pulled the cork it would continue to bug me rather than provide me the satisfaction I paid for of something to look forward to.
Yes I think i would do this - then you haven't lost anything and you can set aside the cash for something else. There are plenty more fish in the (monopolised) sea.
 
Thanks all. I will take it back for the refund. Annoying as I have been obtaining a few Chiantis to try over the next few years and know I won't see this one again. Oh well, plenty of other wine and I won't have the nagging worry about this one.
 
As it happens I have had this wine and whilst it is undoubtedly well made, it's not the best 16 CC out there by a long chalk. If you happen to see either monteraponi or Caparsino riservas out there then they are superb. As to your original question, that's an ullage I see on wines from 1970's so clearly some sort of issue - might simply be that yours was the last of a run and they turned the tap off around the village at the wrong point. QC should have picked it up though, for all Volpaia village is very quaint and medieval, they have plenty of modern winery equipment and this should not have left them like this.
 

Tom Cannavan

Administrator
Yep, I would not accept it I'm afraid. Bottling problem maybe, or it has over-heated, expanded the cork and leaked and has subsequently been cleaned up and the cork knocked back in. I appreciate that you might expect tell-tale signs of the latter, but really, the headspace is not right for a wine of that age and might well affect its quality.
 
It's definitely going back for refund . . .

Thanks also to all for the suggestions for other Chianti to try. I do like sangiovese, but have not spent any time really studying the region or the wine. I tend not to like lots of oak, and understood this wine to be on the borderline between modern and traditional.
 
Claude, I see that you have edited your post: would you mind restating your comments on viewpoints on soil types and sangiovese? It was interesting and I wanted to look into it further
Greg, to me Sangiovese is most interesting in Corsica where it is on limestone soils (and the grape is known as Niellucciù). The best examples I know are Patrimonio from Antoine Arena (some now under his sons' names -- Antoine-Marie, Jean-Baptiste), but there are others worth trying, too, e.g. Yves Leccia, Giudicelli, etc
 
Interesting comments, Claude. I’m a big fan of Corsican nielluccio and regularly buy them from TWS and occasionally others. I wouldn’t have thought of them as being more “interesting” than Tuscan examples but now that you mention it I can see what you mean.
 
Corsican sangiovese is occasionally offered thorough our government retail system, although none is available at present, but this means that hopefully I will be able to try some. Recent offerings were: Enclos Des Anges Semper Fidelis Corse Calvi and the basic Enclos Des Anges, as well as Bindi Porcellese Vieilles Vignes
 
A brief update largely to recognise the efforts of our "LCBO". I was provided a full refund with no concerns raised. I then contacted the LCBO's HQ as I recalled hearing that they sometimes keep bottles back from their monthly releases just in case there are problems such as this. Whether this was the case in this instance, or if they contacted the importer, they were able to provide me with a bottle that appears to be in good condition.
 
Top