As many know I normally use Zalto Burgundy stemware for young wines, and my old trusted Riedel Vinum for old and mature Burgundies.
I have however decided to test some additional stemware to ensure I have the optimal tools when I taste my precious Burgundies.
The first glass to be included in my experiments is the mighty Riedel Sommelier Burgundy Grand Cru. But more stemware will be included in further comparative tests.
The Clash of the Titans – round 1
In this first article I compare three Burgundy glasses – Riedel Vinum Burgundy, Zalto Burgundy and Riedel Sommelier Burgundy Grand Cru.
For this experiment we need a good Burgundy, and I have choosen a younger but slightly matured village wine from Vosne Romanee. A delightfully expressive wine, but also a nuanced wine I know quite well.
Domaine du Comte Liger-Belair, Vosne Clos du Chateau 2007
Firstly a tasting note based on the impressions from all three types of stemware.
Tasting Note – 18/04/2015
The Clos du Chateau 2007 from Liger-Belair is a outgoing and quite organic wine. In the bouquet expressive red fruit .. quite floral with a magnificent display of Vosne spices and minerality. On the palate pure and organic fruit .. intense yet lightfooted with a fine focusing acidity. It take some time to settle down in the glass .. but after a while it becomes more silky and richly flavored on the palate. A lovely expressive Vosne-Romanee village. Drink from 2017 – Very Good+ (90p)
Individual impressions from the three types of stemware
The three types of stemware gave quite different expressions of the wine over the evening … I followed the wine over two hours from cellar cold to standard living room temperature i.e. around 20 – 22 celsius in my case.
Riedel Vinum Burgundy
The Riedel Vinum was least expressive when the wine was served some degrees too cold, but gained some momentum as the temperature incresed.
The overall impression is a glass that focus on the “facade” of the wine, not revealing many details or giving a holistic impression of the wine. The fruit is fine and richly presented in the final stages, but the emphasis on oak and some elements of the Vosne spicyness (Violets) in the bouquet does not quite do the wine justice.
I’m struggling to find the right word … but a bit superficial is perhaps the best word to describe the Vinum … when it’s in the company of the two big boys – Zalto Burgundy and Riedel Sommelier Burgundy Grand Cru.
The Zalto glass is offering all the details in the world and have a tendency to focus on the structural components of the wine .. acidity and minerality. In this case the wine needed to gain some temperature in the glass to get the correct balance between the structural elements and the fruit. When the fruit starts to unfold some sweetness and richness on the palate the Zaltos offer a very delicate, precise and revealing view of the wine .. the focus is on details .. but not at the expense of the overall coherent expression of the wine.
That being said … I think the scrutiny of the Zaltos is a bit over the top for this wine, and thinking 10 years forward, I don’t think the Zaltos would be ideal for this wine. The focus on detail is fine for the professional taster especially with young wines, but for pure hedonistic pleasure exploring older wines I think a more holistic tool is appropriate.
Riedel Sommelier Burgundy Grand Cru
These Titans are new in my toolbox, although I have used them on quite many occasions at tastings. This is however the first time I have compared them directly with the Zaltos and the Vinums … over time and with the possibility to indulge myself in the differences.
In the case of the Clos du Chateau 2007 from Liger-Belair, the Riedel Sommeliers gave the most holistic expression of the wine … and also yielded most hedonistic pleasure.
They offer less detail than the Zaltos especially the mineral components are slightly muted and interlinked with the fruit. In this case this works well, as the wine itself have a very expressive mineral side. As a consequence they do better at slightly lower temperatures as they tend to show a more full expression of the fruit.
There is however a balance, as it seem to take quite a wine to fill the mighty bowl of the Riedel Sommerliers .. and small wines can sort of “get lost” in the glass, especially if the temperature is too low. These are somehow big glasses for big wines .. hence the name Grand Cru.
At best these mighty goblets presented the wine in a both holistic and hedonistic way, with sufficient detail, and without the somewhat superficial character of the Vinums. The do lack some detail compared to the Zaltos … but in this case they win the battle by a good but not large margin.
Summing up in a few words
I have tried to sum up the characteristics of the three glasses in very few words … i.e one word describing the good side of the glass and one word describing the smallish issues I have found during this test.
Riedel Vinum: Good: Forgiving, Bad: Superficial
Zalto Burgundy: Great: Analytic, Bad: Disintegrating
Riedel Sommelier Burgundy Grand Cru: Great: Holistic, Bad: Demanding
All three glasses are very good … I have lived with Riedel Vinum for 25 years … and the negative sides are minor and are very much exposed when one compare with other stemware with other qualities. The Zaltos are very analytical, and the downside here is that this can be too much with older wines, as they seem to disintegrate in the Zaltos. The big Riedel Sommelier Burgundy Grand Cru are on the other hand demanding, and lesser wines tend to fall through .. leaving no or a somewhat unfocused impression.
Stay tuned for round two of this battle … and more tests as I have some stemware from Lehmann coming in soon.