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Ullage

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Howie Hart

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Ullage

by Howie Hart » Fri Oct 04, 2013 10:48 am

David's post about "High Towers" raises (for me) the question of ullage, so I thought I bring it up in a new thread. The last few bottles of 1975 Lafite I've opened were selected based on ullage. The wine still has the original corks and I selected bottles to open that had the most ullage, nothing extreme, all still into the neck and none more than about an inch below the cork. The 3 remaining bottles are all about 3/4 inch below the cork. I indicated in David's post that I felt the wine had peaked in 2000. However, the bottles opened since than were the ones with the most ullage, so I'm wondering if there is a correlation between ullage and aging; ie., would a bottle with greater head space show more age than one with less? BTW - I open a bottle every 5 years and for those doing the math, the reason I only have 3 left is because I opened one for friends at MOCOOL a few years ago and donated one to the Hurricane Katrina fundraiser that went to Dale.
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Thomas

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Re: Ullage

by Thomas » Fri Oct 04, 2013 10:56 am

Howie Hart wrote: would a bottle with greater head space show more age than one with less?


The short answer is that it should.

For a more precise answer one would have to talk about a variety of specifics.
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David M. Bueker

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Re: Ullage

by David M. Bueker » Fri Oct 04, 2013 11:19 am

With old wines the higher fill bottles almost always (almost is an important qualifier) show better.
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Mark Lipton

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Re: Ullage

by Mark Lipton » Fri Oct 04, 2013 11:59 am

Howie, ullage is a good proxy for the integrity of the cork, and the integrity of the cork is one of the main factors determining the shape the wine is in (but not the only, for sure).

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Dale Williams

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Re: Ullage

by Dale Williams » Fri Oct 04, 2013 1:56 pm

Personally, while I'll always choose the best fill if buying, my guess is that the difference between decades old bottles from same case with fills into necks is very minimal. Those are great fills, and any differences are as likely to be due to original fill as to actual ullage/loss.
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TomHill

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Yup....

by TomHill » Sat Oct 05, 2013 11:27 am

Dale Williams wrote:Personally, while I'll always choose the best fill if buying, my guess is that the difference between decades old bottles from same case with fills into necks is very minimal. Those are great fills, and any differences are as likely to be due to original fill as to actual ullage/loss.


I would go w/ Dale's thought here...minimal. More a function of btl variation than anything.
I've had btls in which 1/3'rd to 1/2 ullaged away (mostly LH Zins) thru leakage around the cork and the cork
plopped down into the btl when I attempted to extract it, sometimes. The wine was still drinkable, if a bit tired.
But not (overly) oxidized and certainly not turned to vinegar. Was it as good as an uncompromised btl??
Never had the opportunity to make that comparison.
But my feeling is if the btl is ullaged down to the bottom of the neck, or onto the shoulder...meh.
Tom

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