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Michael K

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When should one worry with ullage levels?

by Michael K » Sat Sep 29, 2007 1:33 am

I've got very little experience with older wines......as such I have very little experience with Ullage and when it should be an indicator of problems

I just purchased a couple of bottle of 1976 Mouton Rothschild and one of them is definitely at the mid shoulder point. Should I be worried about this bottle? At which point in general should I be worried with older wines.....they are in general much lower than anything else I have that are of roughly the same age.
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Howie Hart

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Re: When should one worry with ullage levels?

by Howie Hart » Sat Sep 29, 2007 2:44 am

The mid-shoulder seems high to me. I bought a case of '75 Lafite on release in '78. I have 5 bottles left and none are more than 3/4 inch below the cork - all still in the neck. When in doubt, open the one with the most ullage first and have another ready as a backup.
Chico - Hey! This Bottle is empty!
Groucho - That's because it's dry Champagne.
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Rahsaan

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Re: When should one worry with ullage levels?

by Rahsaan » Sat Sep 29, 2007 3:01 am

Howie Hart wrote:The mid-shoulder seems high to me..


You mean low :wink:
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Cynthia Wenslow

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Re: When should one worry with ullage levels?

by Cynthia Wenslow » Sat Sep 29, 2007 3:03 am

You must forgive Howie. He was in WLDG Chat and drinking his wonderful homemade wine long after his bedtime! 8)
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Rahsaan

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Re: When should one worry with ullage levels?

by Rahsaan » Sat Sep 29, 2007 4:37 am

Cynthia Wenslow wrote:You must forgive Howie...long after his bedtime! 8)


Ok. I was actually wondering why he was up so early on the East Coast. But that makes more sense.. :wink:
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Tim York

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Re: When should one worry with ullage levels?

by Tim York » Sat Sep 29, 2007 6:10 am

A bottle's low level like that is a worrying sign and I would not buy it if i had a chance to inspect it first. However you never know for sure. We opened a bottle of 1970 Rioja the other day with a similar level and a mouldy capsule and it was excellent - see WTN about 10 days ago entitled a Rioja treat or something like that. So you may have a very pleasant surprise.
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Howie Hart

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Re: When should one worry with ullage levels?

by Howie Hart » Sat Sep 29, 2007 10:41 am

Rahsaan wrote:
Howie Hart wrote:The mid-shoulder seems high to me..


You mean low :wink:
Yes. I was thinking upside down, or linear or something. High volume of ullage. Yeah, that's it! :roll:
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Victorwine

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Re: When should one worry with ullage levels?

by Victorwine » Sat Sep 29, 2007 11:09 am

For a Bordeaux bottle a wine level at mid-shoulder is not abnormal for a wine 30 years or older. You might find this link helpful; http://www.eriwine.com/ullage.htm

Salute
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Michael K

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Re: When should one worry with ullage levels?

by Michael K » Sat Sep 29, 2007 3:56 pm

Many thanks for that! Most definitely will have a backup!
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Bob Henrick

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Re: When should one worry with ullage levels?

by Bob Henrick » Sat Sep 29, 2007 4:16 pm

Rahsaan wrote:
Howie Hart wrote:The mid-shoulder seems high to me..


You mean low :wink:


Rahsaan, perhaps Howie was saying that the level reported was a HIGH level of ullage. Not that it was a HIGH level in the bottle????
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Dale Williams

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Re: When should one worry with ullage levels?

by Dale Williams » Sat Sep 29, 2007 8:44 pm

Victorwine wrote:For a Bordeaux bottle a wine level at mid-shoulder is not abnormal for a wine 30 years or older. You might find this link helpful; http://www.eriwine.com/ullage.htm


Not abnormal is not the same as desirable. The Edward Roberts site is the most sanguine about mid-shoulder fills of any auction house I know, doesn't make me want to bid there.
I personally expect a decent discount on a 30 yr old bottle if it has high shoulder fill, I'd consider VHS typical (I'd pay a bit of premium for base neck or above). I'd say my "not a problem" rate on MS fills is about 30%, and most of those were older than 31 years.

Was bottle properly described? Because if I got a bottle at MS w/o warning I'd be seriously pissed.
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Michael K

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Re: When should one worry with ullage levels?

by Michael K » Sat Sep 29, 2007 8:54 pm

Was bottle properly described? Because if I got a bottle at MS w/o warning I'd be seriously pissed.


The auction notes were "u. two top shoulder and one mid. shoulder" and then at auction time, there was an addendum "The Mouton Rothschild 1976 should read 2 bottles." with no indication of which one was removed. I had assumed that the ms one was removed since it was the last one described. My fault for not pursuing. more detail I guess.
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Mark Lipton

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Re: When should one worry with ullage levels?

by Mark Lipton » Sat Sep 29, 2007 11:55 pm

Dale Williams wrote:Not abnormal is not the same as desirable. The Edward Roberts site is the most sanguine about mid-shoulder fills of any auction house I know, doesn't make me want to bid there.


I'll second Dale's comment here: those auction houses I've dealt with flag high shoulder and mid shoulder levels as signs of possible problems. Even in 30 year old wines, properly stored bottles should still be in the neck, though there will always be exceptions.

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Victorwine

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Re: When should one worry with ullage levels?

by Victorwine » Sun Sep 30, 2007 6:29 am

Dale wrote:
“Not abnormal is not the same as desirable”.

Definitely agree!

Like Tim stated in his post:
“A bottle's low level like that is a worrying sign……”

Like Mark stated in his post:
“…..those auction houses I've dealt with flag high shoulder and mid shoulder levels as signs of possible problems”.

But there is always that chance you could be SURPRIZED!

Like Howie stated in his post: (BTW Howie we knew what you meant).
“When in doubt, open the one with the most ullage first and have another ready as a backup”.

Salute

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