Non-filtration like flying unaided: Dubourdieu

Leaving wine unfiltered is the equivalent of landing a plane without help from the control tower, Bordeaux consultant Denis Dubourdieu has said.

Speaking at a tasting of Chateau d’Yquem, Chateau Cheval Blanc and other properties he consults for – all of which are either filtered or fined – the sage-like oenologist said there was massive ignorance around filtering wines.

‘There is a movement today to release wines that are unfined and unfiltered. It’s like a pilot landing his jet without air traffic control. It is dangerous for the consumer not to filter and not to fine,’ he said.

He attacked critics – both French and non-French – who praise wines just because they are unfined and unfiltered as misleading the consumer, but stopped short of naming anyone specifically.

‘Great wines have nothing to gain from the absence of fining and filtration. On the other hand, they have much to lose. It is true, that wines that are filtered and fined could at first be fatigued. But they recover later.’

Pointing out that the world’s greatest wines – including Petrus – are filtered, he added, ‘Fining serves to reduce instability in wine, to remove unstable molecules through absorption by egg whites, for example. Filtration promotes microbiological stability by keeping out yeasts and bacteria, while being just sufficient to leave smaller elements in the wine useful to the flavor.’

He cited the ‘horse-like’ aroma of brettanomyces as a default that can result in unfiltered wine.

‘The consumer already has to worry about corked wine,’ he added. ‘Why add more risk in the form of extra deposits?’

Written by Panos Kakaviatos