Levels in bottles
As the years pass, the cork of a bottle of wine becomes porous and causes the evaporation of the precious liquid.
This phenomenon is accentuated if the bottle is kept in poor temperature conditions (cellar too hot), or insufficient moisture.
But it does not matter that the optimum conditions of conservation are all united, over time, all the bottles, even the greatest vintages, are affected by this evaporation.
And it can be a good thing: the levels of a bottle (especially for an old vintage) is a very good indicator of its preservation and authenticity.
You will find very rarely (or never) a 30 year old bottle with a perfect level. If this is the case, there are strong presumptions of counterfeiting.
Contrary, a bottle aged of less than 10 years old with a low shoulder level is likely to have been preserved in a perfectly inadequate environment.
This is why we only offer bottles with a consistent level in relation to their vintages.
Here are the levels we use on our site:
Levels of a bottle of Bordeaux
Level in the neck.
Level of recent wines, superb for wines more than 10 years old.
Base of Neck(BN)
Level at the base of the neck.
Level considered to be perfect for all wines, exceptional for wines more than 10 years old.
Base of Neck / Very Top Shoulder(BN / VTS)
Please refer to the « Base of Neck » and « Very Top Shoulder » descriptions.
Very Top Shoulder(VTS)
Level just under the base of the neck.
Appropriate and acceptable level for a wine more than 20 years old.
Very Top Shoulder / Top Shoulder(VTS / TS)
Please refer to the « Very Top Shoulder » and « Top Shoulder » descriptions.
Level just at the start of the curve in the bottle.
Good level for wines 25 or more years old.
Top Shoulder / High Shoulder(TS / HS)
Please refer to the « Top Shoulder » and « High Shoulder » descriptions.
Level slightly lower in the shoulder (roughly 30% of the shoulder).
Proper level for wines 35 or more years old.
High Shoulder / Mid-Shoulder(HS / MS)
Please refer to the « High Shoulder » and « Mid-Shoulder » descriptions.
Level in the middle of the shoulder.
Level which suggests unsuitable storage conditions, or a problem with the cork Bottle at risk, particularly for wines less than 35-40 years old.
Low Shoulder and lower(LS)
Level in the second half of the shoulder and lower.
Indicates a poor source and storage conditions The wine is unsellable, except in exceptional cases.
Recorked by the chateau.
Levels of a bottle of Burgundy
Since the shape of Burgundy bottles is different from Bordeaux bottles, the level is not described with reference to the shoulder but in centimetres from the bottom of the cap.
The proper levels for Burgundy wines are generally:
-up to 3cm for wines about twenty years old
-up to 4cm for 30 years old wines
-from 5 to 7cm for wines 50 or more years old
Up to 7cm for wines 50 or more years old, the risk is limited in terms of wine quality. Wines with different levels will present a risk. That indicates storage conditions which have changed over time, a problem with the cork, etc.
Bottles with a level lower than 7cm will present a strong risk and are in general unsellable, except in rare cases.