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The Old, the Bad and the Really Ugly


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Some brief notes on some older wines tasted recently. These were all from the same cellar and while we fully expected many of them to be DOA, you never know until you open them and taste. Being always willing to sacrifice myself for the cause, I was front and center with glass ready. I offer notes on the bad ones as well, in the hope that it might guide others who happen across old cellars for sale. Remember though – one bottle of a wine this age can be totally gone while the next is ethereal.

1974 Pedroncelli Zinfandel Sonoma – this has become old sherry-like, drinkable, but not what it could be. I have found that really old Zins that are good (they become very clarety) are the exception, although I’ve had some 25 – 30 year old stunners.

1975 Dehlinger Sonoma Cabernet – a lovely surprise, good nose, drying out a bit but still lots of things happening here.

1978 Ridge Zinfandel Paso Robles – dead

1971 Beaulieu Vineyards Napa Cab – this predated the Rutherford and Beau Tour labelling, I believe. Nice sweet nose but nothing interesting left on palate.

1974 Sterling Merlot Napa – didn’t expect too much of a 31 year old Merlot, but this was one of the best wines we tasted. Warm nose, the fruit still foremost, and an adequate amount of fruit on palate.

1974 Inglenook Limited Cask Napa Cab – dead.

1977 Ridge York Creek Cab – skunky!

1974 Ch. Laurensac – a Bordeaux Superior that was predictably DOA

1976 Firestone St. Ynez Cab –a bit left here, but not that interesting.

1979 Raymond Napa Zinfandel – pale colour, faded (I have some of their cabs from this period and they are very good)

1979 Beringer Zinfandel (Napa) – remember when I said one in a great number of old zins ages nicely? This had a quite intense nose and still had sweet fruit – a pleasant surprise.

1975 Mondavi Pinot Noir – a 30 year old Califonia Pinot? Get out of here. But it was still showing a toasty oak nose, and had good length. It would have been better some years ago, but it was amazing that it had come through as well as this.

1974 Mondavi Petit Sirah – not a varietal you associate with this producer. Big and black, with a medium ripe nose, it had good stuffing and ended dry with soft tannins. This must have been a monster to rival the old Freemark PS when it was young. Not bad now!

1975 Callaway Temecula Cab – strange weedy beast.

1979 Ch. Quentin St. Emilion – sweet, mellow and quite decent.

1979 Ch. Fourcas Dupre – this Medoc showed a slight corkiness which was too bad as it still showed decent fruit levels and good balance. Even so, it was drinking not badly.

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How very sad -- I've had some on the Inglenooks from the 40s that were lovely and a full flight of BV Latours from the 50s and 60s that were amazing. Interesting that some of your '70s wines held up okay but others (which should have held up fine) were dead. Any idea on the storage conditions?

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What we do in the name of research and science!

Indeed a tough world out there.

Andre Suidan

I was taught to finish what I order.

Life taught me to order what I enjoy.

The art of living taught me to take my time and enjoy.

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