“London and Carolina Madeira Wine”: A Madeira advertisement by George Abbott Hall & Co. of Charleston

Advertisement for 1771 and 1772 London Particular Madeira by George Abbott Hall & Co on January 28, 1774. [1]

George Abbott Hall (1737-1791) born in England eventually moved to Charleston, South Carolina around 1760, where he was a merchant, member of the provincial government of South Carolina, commissioner of the South Carolina navy, and appointed by George Washington as First Collector of the Port of Charleston in 1789.[2]

61 Tradd St, Charleston, SC, as it appears today.

Upon arrival in Charleston, George Abbott Hall appears to have first joined the firm of Inglis, Lloyd, and Hall, importers of slaves into Charleston from 1759-1764. [3]  Of interest in today’s post is his advertisement from January 28, 1774, for London Particular Madeira from the vintages of 1771 and 1772.  It is not rare to see the description of London Particular Madeira, the top quality of Madeira shipped to America, in the advertisement but the appearance of the vintages is.

61 Tradd St, Charleston, SC, as it appears today.

We know from Henry Hill, the Philadelphia based agent for the Madeira firm Lamar, Hill, Bisset, & Co., that the 1771 vintage was regarded as “real[l]y exceeding inferior”.  News of the “remarkably fine” quality 1772 vintage reached the ears of George Washington who placed an order for four pipes of London Particular Madeira from Lamar, Hill, Bisset & Co. [5] Henry Hill had noted that the vintage promised “to be the largest ever known in the memory of Man”.  The quality of the wine was higher because “the vilas are more carefull when they have plenty of Grapes.”

Advertisements for Madeira by George Abbott Hall appear to be rare.  This could be due to the banning of Madeira imports into America beginning in the fall of 1774 followed by the disruption of trade during the Revolutionary War.  As such I cannot determine where he sold the Madeira from.  It is possible he sold the Madeira from the house he moved into around 1770 at 61 Tradd Street.  Unfortunately, for this post, there was a large plumbing van in front of the house when I visited it.

[1] “To George Washington from George Abbott Hall, 31 March 1789,” Founders Online, National Archives, last modified March 30, 2017, http://founders.archives.gov/documents/Washington/05-01-02-0365. [Original source: The Papers of George Washington, Presidential Series, vol. 1, 24 September 1788 – 31 March 1789, ed. Dorothy Twohig. Charlottesville: University Press of Virginia, 1987, pp. 469–470.]

[2] Advertisement. Date: Friday, January 28, 1774 Paper: South-Carolina and American General Gazette (Charleston, South Carolina) Page: 4

[3] Laurens, Henry.  The Papers of Henry Laurens.  1972.  University of South Carolina Press. URL: https://books.google.com/books?id=mRlEcWBdl5oC&lpg=PP1&pg=PP1#v=onepage&q&f=false

[4] Tradd Street (1-75). Charleston County Public Library. URL: http://ccpl.org/content.asp?id=15712&catID=6028&action=detail&parentID=5747

[5] “From George Washington to Lamar, Hill, Bisset, & Company, 15 July 1773,” Founders Online, National Archives, last modified March 30, 2017, http://founders.archives.gov/documents/Washington/02-09-02-0208. [Original source: The Papers of George Washington, Colonial Series, vol. 9, 8 January 1772 – 18 March 1774, ed. W. W. Abbot and Dorothy Twohig. Charlottesville: University Press of Virginia, 1994, pp. 280–282.]

“At No 120, Tradd Street”: An historic Madeira advertisement in Charleston

Advertisement for London Particular Madeira wine by Hunter & Ross. Saturday, February 6, 1808. [1]

On January 20, 1808, James Hunter and John Ross advertised London Particular Madeira and Old Madeira for sale at their newly incorporated firm Hunter & Ross at 120 Tradd Street, Charleston, South Carolina.  Formed that same year, Hunter & Ross appears to have operated for three years until 1811.  Their initial advertisements included Madeira wine whereas later ones offered corn and black eyed peas.[2]

Hunter & Ross listed their business at 120 Tradd Street, a location where a house was first built in 1770 as a wood house on a brick basement.  At the time, 120 Tradd Street was located at the western end of developed Charleston.  The house burnt down during the Great Fire of Charleston in 1861 so the building which exists today is not the same structure as when one could purchase pipes, quarter-casks, and bottles of Madeira.

120 Tradd Street, Charleston, SC. Present Day.

[1] Advertisement. Date: Saturday, February 6, 1808 Paper: Charleston Courier (Charleston, South Carolina) Page: 1

[2] Advertisement. Date: Saturday, January 5, 1811 Paper: Charleston Courier (Charleston, South Carolina) Volume: IX Issue: 2471 Page: 2

[3] The great fire in Charleston additional particulars. The Daily Dispatch: December 18, 1861. Perseus Digital Library. Tufts University. URL: http://www.perseus.tufts.edu/hopper/text?doc=Perseus%3Atext%3A2006.05.0351%3Aarticle%3D7

“Received the contents”:  Exploring General George Washington’s Madeira supply during the beginning of the New York campaign of 1776

Detail from William Faden’s “A Plan of New York Island”. 1776. LOC.

With the end of the Siege of Boston during the Revolutionary War between the American colonies and Great Britain, military attention quickly shifted south to New York.  New York was an important port and a strategic link between the northern and the southern colonies.  After the British forces withdrew from Boston, George Washington moved his headquarters from Cambridge, Massachusetts to New York during April 1776.

General Washington had felt the need to create a personal guard based on his experience during the Siege of Boston.[1]  In March 1776, before he left Boston, he appointed Captain Caleb Gibbs, Captain Commandant of the Guard.  Captain Gibbs was not only head of George Washington’s security but also chief steward of his household.  Captain Gibbs served in this position for nearly five years during which time he took over the purchasing of Madeira for General Washington.  It is fortunate for us that General Washington’s receipts were kept.

During these war years General Washington stopped personally ordering his Madeira direct from the Island.  Direct import was impossible because the Continental Congress had banned the import of Madeira wine since October 1774.  Instead, Captain Gibbs purchased Madeira from merchants and individuals located near headquarters.  Such purchases did not require a series of correspondence so we must rely on the Revolutionary War receipts to piece together George Washington’s Madeira supply.

General Washington moved from Cambridge to New York during April 1776 which is the very same month that the Continental Congress opened all American ports to international trade.  Though Madeira could now be imported, trade was complicated by the presence of American and British military forces.

General Washington arrived in New York on April 13, 1776.  The first purchase upon his arrival is for one dozen bottles at “New York”.[2]   Colonel William Palfrey was General Washington’s aide-de-camp during the move so he kept the list of moving expenses.  Unfortunately, we do not know from whom Colonel Palfrey purchased the Madeira.

Once in New York Captain Gibbs took over.  The initial purchase of one dozen bottles is soon followed by another small parcel of three dozen bottles from the Loyalist Lloyd Danbury on April 25, 1776.[3] These bottles cost £2 16s per dozen, the lowest price per bottle for all purchases that summer.  Given the price these must be a lower grade of Madeira and perhaps represent an effort by Captain Gibbs to simply supply Madeira for the table.

For the rest of the campaign General Washington’s Madeira was sourced from a merchant who regularly sold Madeira and two men with significant Madeira collections.  Abraham Duryee, the New York merchant and member of the Committee of 100, sold Madeira and other goods since at least 1758. On March 28, 1776, he placed his last advertisement for goods detailing cash only.[4]  The last listed item for sale is “Old Madeira Wine”.  In the June 1776, the Portuguese monarchy aligned with the British and forbade any American colonial ships from calling on Portuguese ports.  Duryee still held stocks for he sold Captain Gibbs 10¼ gallons of “old” Madeira on June 25, 1776.[5] This purchase of low quality Madeira appears to have been for Major General Charles Lee which could explain why the very next day a dozen bottles were purchased of Samuel Fraunces.  He was the owner of Fraunces Tavern and later steward of George Washington’s presidential household.[6]

Receipt for Old Madeira Wine from Thomas Marston. July 17, 1776. LOC. [7]

Captain Gibbs next bought 11 dozen bottles of Madeira from Thomas Marston of New York on July 9, 1776, of which the funds were paid on July 17, 1776.[7]  In Cambridge, General Washington typically purchased his Madeira by the casks then had it bottled.   This is what appears to have been done by Thomas Marston given the slightly cryptic description of the expense as “the wine is in quarter casks rack of the Bottles.”   On August 31, 1776, another 11 dozen bottles of “Old Madeira” were purchased from Thomas Marston.[8]  He held his price at £3 12s per dozen.  Upon the death of Thomas Marston, his “good old Madeira” was auctioned off in the spring of 1814.[9]  Some 48 demijohns and 1700 bottles were sold off with some lots reaching $25 per gallon.

Throughout June, July, and August of 1776, British troops continued to arrive in the New York region.  Unsure of where the British would launch their attack, General Washington stationed troops both in New York and Long Island.  It is unclear why but the next two parcels of Madeira came from David Clarkson and his son David Clarkson Jr of Flatbush, Long Island.  On July 23, 1776, came 12 dozen bottles of wine from David Clarkson.[10]  These cost £4 per dozen for a total of £48. Within two weeks, on August 4, 1776, came 12 dozen “Madeira wine” at the standard price of £3 12s per dozen from David Clarkson’s son David Clarkson Jr.[11]  The switch in suppliers was not because Thomas Marston was out of Madeira for Captain Gibbs purchased more from him at the end of August.

One possibility for the switch is that the Clarkson’s feared for the safety of the Madeira stored in their house in Flatbush.  General Washington was still located in New York and did not land on Long Island until the end of August.  The Madeira would have been ferried back to New York.  The first parcel is the most expensive purchased during the New York campaign so it was probably of higher quality and worth the effort to transport back to headquarters.

There is plausibility to this reasoning.  It was on July 12, 1776, that British ships arrived at the Hudson River with additional ships continuing to arrive over the next several weeks.  On August 22, 1776, the main body of British troops invaded Long Island.  There was a line of American troops at Flatbush but they moved back allowing the British to take Flatbush.   David Clarkson had left behind “a quantity of wine” in his house. [12]  These bottles of Madeira wine were stored behind a hidden partition in an upper part of the house.  A British sympathizer revealed the secret location of the “very choice” wine which was consumed by the British in a “complete drunken frolic.”

The house in Flatbush where David Clarkson lived. George Bradford Brainerd (American, 1845-1887). Bergen House, Flatbush, Brooklyn, 1877. Collodion silver glass wet plate negative Brooklyn Museum, Brooklyn Museum/Brooklyn Public Library, Brooklyn Collection, 1996.164.2-174.

That George Washington bought Madeira from these specific men appears to be the result of their relationships.  Both Abraham Duryee and Augustus Van Horne were members of the Committee of 100.[13]  Abraham Duryee, David Clarkson, Augustus Van Horne, and Thomas Marston all served on the General Committee for the City and County of New York.[14]  Members of the Clarkson and Van Horne families were both married and business partners.[15]

I have gathered the Madeira purchased by Colonel Palfrey and Captain Gibbs during the beginning of the New York campaign.  General Washington was outside of New York from May 22, 1776 through June 5, 1776.[16] This in part explains the gap in receipts and entries between April 25, 1776, and July 26, 1776.  Given the size of subsequent Madeira purchases General Washington must have been supplied during this period by some means.

  • April 13, 1776, Unknown, wine, 1 dozen bottles, £3 12s per dozen, £3 12s total
  • April 25, 1776, Lloyd Danbury, Madeira wine, 3 dozen bottles, £2 16s per dozen, £8 8s total
  • June 26, 1776, Abraham Duryee, old Madeira wine, 10¼ gallons, 14s per gallon, £7 3s 6d total
  • June 27, 1776, Samuel Fraunces, Madeira wine, 1 dozen bottles, £3 12s per dozen, £3 12s total
  • July 9, 1776, Thomas Marston, old Madeira wine, 11 dozen bottles, £3 12s per dozen, £39 12s total
  • July 23, 1776, David Clarkson, wine, 12 dozen, £4 per dozen, £48 total
  • August 4, 1776, David Clarkson Jr., Madeira wine, 12 dozen, £3 12s per dozen, £43 2s total
  • August 31, 1776, Thomas Marston, old Madeira wine, 11 dozen bottles, £3 12s per dozen, £39 12s total

After the British drank all of Madeira in Flatbush they advanced towards Brooklyn.  General Washington was trapped between superior numbers of British troops and British ships.  Under the cover of night on August 29, 1776, he was able to ferry all of his men to New York without alerting the British. The day after his arrival in New York he was met by a fresh supply of Madeira.

[1] Caleb Gibbs.  George Washington’s Mount Vernon. URL: http://www.mountvernon.org/digital-encyclopedia/article/caleb-gibbs/

[2] William Palfrey, April, 1776, Revolutionary War Accounts, Vouchers, and Receipted Accounts 2. George Washington Papers at the Library of Congress, 1741-1799: Series 5 Financial Papers.

[3] Lloyd Danbury to George Washington, April, 1776, Revolutionary War Accounts, Vouchers, and Receipted Accounts 1. George Washington Papers at the Library of Congress, 1741-1799: Series 5 Financial Papers

[4] Advertisement. Date: Thursday, March 28, 1776   Paper: New-York Journal (New York, New York)   Issue: 1734   Page: 4

[5] Abraham Duryee to George Washington, June 26, 1776, Revolutionary War Accounts, Vouchers, and Receipted Accounts 2. George Washington Papers at the Library of Congress, 1741-1799: Series 5 Financial Papers

[6]Since at least John C. Fitzpatrick published George Washington’s Accounts of Expenses While Commander-in-chief of the Continental Army, 1775-1783 (1917) it has been held that there is a “voucher” from Samuel Fraunces dated June 27, 1776, for these bottles of Madeira which was not entered into the debit lists in the Series 5 Financial Papers.   I can find no citation for this “voucher” nor can I find it amongst the Series 5 documents.  Instead it is entered in the Journal of Household Expenses.   Washington, G. (1776) George Washington Papers, Series 5, Financial Papers: Revolutionary War Journal of Household Expenses, July, 1776 – November, 1780. 07-/11-1780. [Manuscript/Mixed Material] Retrieved from the Library of Congress, https://www.loc.gov/item/mgw500028/

[7] Caleb Gibbs, 1776-80, Revolutionary War Receipt Book. George Washington Papers at the Library of Congress, 1741-1799: Series 5 Financial Papers and Thomas Marston to Caleb Gibbs, July 17, 1776, Revolutionary War Accounts, Vouchers, and Receipted Accounts 1. George Washington Papers at the Library of Congress, 1741-1799: Series 5 Financial Papers

[8] Thomas Marston to Caleb Gibbs, August 31, 1776, Revolutionary War Accounts, Vouchers, and Receipted Accounts 1. George Washington Papers at the Library of Congress, 1741-1799: Series 5 Financial Papers

[9] Thomas Marston, Esq; Madeira. Date: Saturday, April 2, 1814   Paper: Portsmouth Oracle (Portsmouth, New Hampshire)   Volume: XXV   Issue: 28   Page: 3

[10] David Clarkson to George Washington, July 23, 1776, Revolutionary War Accounts, Vouchers, and Receipted Accounts 1. George Washington Papers at the Library of Congress, 1741-1799: Series 5 Financial Papers

[11] David Clarkson Jr. to Caleb Gibbs, April 4, 1778. George Washington Papers, Series 5, Financial Papers: Revolutionary War Vouchers and Receipted Accounts, 1776 -1780

[12]Strong, Thomas M. The history of the town of Flatbush in Kings County, Long Island. URL: https://archive.org/stream/historyoftownoff00stro

[13] Williams, C. S. Jan Cornelis Van Horne and his descendants. 1912. URL: https://archive.org/details/jancornelisvanho00will

[14] Jones, Thomas.  History of New York During the Revolutionary War: And of the Leading Events in the Other Colonies at that Period, Volume 1. 1879. URL: https://books.google.com/books?id=3X8FAAAAQAAJ&pg=PR17#v=onepage&q&f=false  and Wilson, James Grant. The Memorial History of the City of New-York: From Its First Settlement to the Year 1892, Volume 2. 1892. URL: https://books.google.com/books?id=h1QOAAAAIAAJ&pg=PP1#v=onepage&q&f=false

[15] David Clarkson Jr was married to Elizabeth French whose sister Anne was married to David Van Horne, the son of Augustus Van Horne.  David Van Horne was business partners with David Clarkson’s brother Levinus Clarkson.   Levinus Clarkson was married to Mary Van Horne.  The Clarksons of New York: A Sketch, Volume 1. 1875. URL: https://books.google.com/books?id=coQ7AAAAMAAJ&vq=levinus&pg=PP1#v=onepage&q=levinus&f=false

[16] Washington’s Revolutionary War Itinerary. University of Virginia. URL: http://gwpapers.virginia.edu/history/topics/washingtons-revolutionary-war-itinerary/

Vintage wines at the 1884 sale of Cossart, Gordon, & Co’s London stock

Cossart, Gordon, et Cie. 1874. [1]

On June 19, 1884, Messrs. Southard & Co. sold the entire stock of Cossart, Gordon, & Co.’s bottled and demijohned Madeira that lay in London. This was a significant sale involving 8,700 dozen bottles and 200 demijohns. The inventory was being sold off because Cossart, Gordon, & Co. had shifted priority to the bulk sale of Madeira while their bottled sales reduced.

Phylloxera began to spread across the island of Madeira in 1872 and it took until 1883, when American root stock could be imported into the Island, that replanting began in earnest. It would be many years before production fully recovered. This sale came at the tail end of the destruction by Phylloxera.

The vintages in the sale range from 1879 back to 1836 with bottling dates of 1883 back to 1870. Only one of the wines was bottled before Phylloxera became known on the Island. The wines without bottling dates were still in demijohn but it is not clear when they were moved out of cask.  There is the expected gap in vintage dates do to oidium so no vintages appear from 1851 through 1864 inclusive.

There are both vintage dated and non-vintage selections. In the chart below I have transcribed the vintage dated wines in ascending order.  The non-vintage wines appear in ascending bottling date order.  For both types, the names of the individual wines are largely a mixture of variety or region, sometimes with a descriptor attached. Of particular interest to me are the series of “Vintage” wines.

Like most of the other wines, the “Vintage” wines have a date but there is no reference to variety nor to place. These wines are from the vintages 1838, 1840, 1842, 1850, 1866, and 1868.   Noel Cossart considers the pre-oidium vintages “generally very good” with the two others as “generally good”.

The two oldest of these “Vintage” wines bear the descriptors “Superb” and “Superior”.   These are amongst the four most expensive wines offered with all of the “Vintage” wines generally at the expensive end of pricing.  The 1850 “Vintage” was bottled twice. First, in 1870 with the description “Extra” and a shipping price of 100/ per dozen. The second bottling in 1881 was less expensive at 90/ per dozen.

It is not yet clear how a “Vintage” wine differs from a regular wine from a single vintage.  Given the nature of the descriptions and the pricing, I believe “Vintage” wines were a new category of a high-quality blends.

1836 Sercial, Bottled 1882, dozen at 108/
1836 Imperial Reserve, Bottled 1883, dozen at 86/
1838 Vintage “Superb”, Bottled 1880, dozen at 140/
1840 Vintage Superior, Bottled 1880, dozen at 110/
1842 Malmsey, Bottled 1876, dozen at 120/
1842 Vintage, Bottled 1881, dozen at 95/
1844 Came de Lobos, Bottled 1880, dozen at 110/
1848 Finest Sercial, Bottled 1883, dozen at 66/
1850 Vintage, Bottled 1881, dozen at 90/
1851 Sao Martinho, Bottled 1883, dozen at 90/
1850 Vintage Extra, Bottled 1870, dozen at 100/
1850 Bual, Bottled 1882, dozen at 110/
1865 Finest Sercial, Bottled 1881, dozen at 70/
1866 Cama de Lobos, Bottled 1872, dozen at 60/
1866 Madeira Secco, Bottled 1882, dozen at 70/
1866 Vintage, demijohn at 90/
1867 Quinta Do Leme, Bottled 1875, dozen at 60/
1867 Ribeiro Real, Bottled 1876, dozen at 60/
1867 Bual, Bottled 1883, dozen at 54/
1868 dry, fine, delicate, Vintage, Bottled 1874, dozen at 54/
1868 Bual, Bottled 1880, dozen at 54/
1868 Finest Malmsey, Bottled 188, dozen at 68/
1868 Finest Malmsey, Bottled 188, 2 dozen half-bottles at 68/
1868 Sercial, Bottled 1883, dozen at 70/
1868 Verdelho Canteiro, Bottled 1883, dozen at 54/
1869 very fine Ribeiro Secco, Bottled 1875, dozen at 48/
1869 very fine Santo Antonio, Bottled 1877, dozen at 48/
1870 Finest Sercial, Bottled 1881, dozen at 63/
1870 Bual, demijohn at 70/
1871 Malmsey, Bottled 1882, dozen at 80/
1872 Sercial, demijohn at 80/
1873 Verdelho, demijohn at 60/
1876 Campaneiro Canteiro, Bottled 1876, dozen at 50/
1876 Finest Cama de Lobos, Bottled 1881, dozen at 32/
1878 Finest dry Tinta (Red), Bottled 1880
1878 Finest Campanario, Bottled 1881, dozen at 32/
1878 Finest Malmsey, Bottled 1882
1878 very choice Tinta (Red), Bottled 1882, dozen at 36/
1878 Finest Malmsey, Bottled 1883, dozen at 44/
1879 Finest dry Tinta (Red), Bottled 1880, dozen at 42/

NV Finest Old West India, Bottled 1878, dozen 60/
NV Very choice, old, delicate, Bottled 1878, dozen at 67/
NV Very dry old Sercial, Bottled 1878, dozen at 78/
NV Very old, delicate, Bottled 1879, dozen at 78/
NV Verdelho Velhissimo, bottled 1879, dozen at 84/
NV Very pale, dry, bottled 1879, dozen at 34/
NV Finest old, Sao Martinho, Bottled 1879, dozen at 57/
NV Finest Old Rich, Cama de Lobos, Bottled 1879, dozen at 63/
NV Imperial Reserve, Bottled 1879, dozen at 96/
NV Full, rich, very fine bottled 1880, dozen at 32/
NV Finest old, East India. Bottled 1880, dozen at 58/
NV Finest old, rich, East India. Bottled 1880, dozen at 58/
NV Fine young rich, Bottled 1881, dozen at 22/
NV Very old, “picked” Wine, Bottled 1881, dozen at 54/
NV Choice Old Rich, bottled 1882, dozen at 29/
NV Pale, Fine, Bottled 1883, dozen at 20/
NV Rich Old, Bottled 1883, dozen at 23/
NV Fine Old, Bottled 1883, dozen at 26/
NV Very choice Bastardo, 1883, dozen at 40/
NV Very choice old, pale, Bottled 1883, dozen at 44/
NV Extra Old East India, Bottled 1883, dozen at 60/

[0] Ridley & Co.’s Monthly Wine and Spirit Trade Circular, Issue 432, Part 43. 1883.  URL: https://books.google.com/books?id=KdAmAQAAIAAJ&pg=PP1#v=onepage&q&f=false

[1] Cossart Gordon & Cie : Ile de Madère. 1874. URL: http://hdl.handle.net/2027/uc1.31175035128282

Italian Barbera from 1964 to 2013

The gray weather parted allowing a small group of us to taste through a range of Barbera on my back deck. Unspoken etiquette ensured we had bottles of Champagne and white wine to occupy ourselves as the bottles of Barbera were opened and I fussed with the grill. Both starter bottles were excellent. Having now tasted NV Demiere Ansiot, Champagne Grand Cru Brut Blanc de Blancs I can state that I want to drink it again. This is surprisingly complex Champagne with frothy bubbles and balance such that it should be drunk up right now. If you like mature Champagne go buy several bottles. The 2007 Red Newt, Gewurztraminer, Curry Creek Vineyard, Finger Lakes is comparatively younger in profile with its dense flavors of nuts and tropical fruit. It is a lot of wine.

We began the Barbera tasting with a trio of four old wines, one of which was bagged. My favorite is the 1967 Casa Vinicola Antonio Vallana, Barbera del Cantina di Bacco. Some did not like it which meant I was left with the lion’s share of old-school sweaty aromas and sweet, concentrated, silky fruit. From the same vintage I also liked the 1967 Cattaneo Adorno Giustiniani, Castello di Gabiano Riserva which with one “b” is one of Italy’s smallest DOCs from Monferrato and not to be confused with the estate from the south of Florence. The brighter fruit and blood are gently delivered making for a different expression of Barbera. This brightness could be attributed to the wine containing up to 10% Freisa and Grignolino.  Our oldest bottle of 1964 Poderi di Luigi Einaudi, Barbera is a survivor for I drank a glass of leftovers the next night with only slightly diminished pleasure. It is bright, tart, and bit acidic making it more of a curiosity. The brown-bagged 1974 Angelo Papagni, Barbera is a wine that is simply too old.

Our next two bottles were flawed. It is a shame because the 1990 Poderi Aldo Conterno, Conca Tre Pile, Barbera D’Alba has the potential to be very good. There is not telling what the 1999 Elio Grasso, Vigna Martina, Barbera D’Alba should be like.

In young territory the 2005 Antica Casa Vinicola Scarpa, La Bogliona, Barbera D’Asti is young primary and attractively floral. In contrast the 2006 Antica Casa Vinicola Scarpa, La Bogliona, Barbera D’Asti sports heft, brawn, and good flavor. It is one to age for many more years. Also promising is the elegant and impeccably balanced 2008 Bartolo Mascarello, Barbera D’Alba. The last bottle of 2013 Coppo, Pomorosso, Barbera d’Asti proved to be the youngest and most modern wine. It is a good, articulated wine but not of my preferred style.  Based on these wines I would like to repeat the tasting but focus in on 1990s and older.

NV Demiere Ansiot, Champagne Grand Cru Brut Blanc de Blancs
Becky Wasserman selection imported by USA Wine Imports. This wine is 100% Chardonnay. Alcohol 12%. The nose begins with a yeast hint then toast and apple orchard aromas which together make for a very satisfying nose. In the mouth are racy flavors of delicate berries, definitely fruity, and frothy bubbles. The fizz is not hard rather it is subtle. This is an excellent wine for drinking now, it is complex with baking spices and a clean finish.  **** Now.

2007 Red Newt, Gewurztraminer, Curry Creek Vineyard, Finger Lakes
Alcohol 14.7%. The color is bright and golden with a green hint. The flavors mix nuts with tropical fruit with a tilt towards sweet flavors. This fine, dense wine has a minerally middle.  Good stuff! **** Now – 2020.

1964 Poderi di Luigi Einaudi, Barbera
Imported by T. Elenteny Imports. Alcohol 11%-14%. The nose is musky at first morphing to old leather as it cleans up and with air adds in cinnamon. The wine itself is earthy with bright acidity and a clean flavor profile of tart cherry and cranberry red fruit. It is a little tired towards the finish but the tart fruit persists in the aftertaste. ** Now.

1974 Angelo Papagni, Barbera (brown bagged mystery wine)
Alcohol 12.5%. A garnet color but one sniff and taste tell that this wine is way past prime. Not Rated.


1967 Cattaneo Adorno Giustiniani, Castello di Gabiano Riserva
Imported by T. Elenteny Imports. This wine is probably a blend of 90%-95% Barbera with the rest Freisa and Grignolino.  Alcohol 11%-14%. The nose smells of blood. In the mouth this is a bright, forward wine with nice bright acidity and up-front grip. It sports an old-school gentleness and softness. Notes of polished wood eventually come out. The blood returns in the aftertaste. *** Now but will last.

1967 Casa Vinicola Antonio Vallana, Barbera del Cantina di Bacco, Colline Novaresi
Imported by The Rare Wine Co. Alcohol 12.5%. The nose is old-school, sweaty and sweet. In the mouth the ripe fruit is sweet with concentration. This silky, smooth wine gains focus and length with air. There is fine texture and weight to the core of fruit which is surrounded by sweaty notes and wood. **** Now but will last.

1990 Poderi Aldo Conterno, Conca Tre Pile, Barbera D’Alba
Imported by T. Elenteny Imports. Alcohol 11%-14%. Sadly cooked on the nose. In the mouth though are gobs of mouth filling fruit with a fine, ripe texture from the tannins. There are tart red fruit flavors in the finish. Correct bottles should be quite good. Not Rated.

1999 Elio Grasso, Vigna Martina, Barbera D’Alba
Alcohol 14.5%. Bad bottle! Not Rated.

2005 Antica Casa Vinicola Scarpa, La Bogliona, Barbera D’Asti
Alcohol 14%. The nose is still young and clean with finely scented aromas of violets. Still youthful in the most this primary wine is fresh with watering acidity. ***(*) Now – 2027.

2006 Antica Casa Vinicola Scarpa, La Bogliona, Barbera D’Asti
Alcohol 14%. The color is darker with a purple tinge. The nose sports more heft to the aromas. In the mouth the flavors are brawnie and matched by additional tannins. There is dark red fruit, rounded feel, and a good personality. This will age for a long time. ***(*) Now – 2032.

2007 G. D. Vajra, Barbera D’Alba Superiore
Imported by The Country Vintner. Alcohol 14.5%. It is hard to get past the over-ripe, full-bore fruit. The wine becomes tangy with serious weight.  ** Now.


2008 Bartolo Mascarello, Barbera D’Alba
Imported by The Rare Wine Co. Alcohol 14%. An elegant nose moves on to bright red fruit over a black fruit foundation. This wine is balanced with grippy personality, texture and some ink. The structure is finely integrated with the fruit. ***(*) Now – 2027.

2013 Coppo, Pomorosso, Barbera d’Asti
Imported by Folio Wine Partners. Alcohol 14.5%. This is an articulated, young, modern wine that is not without attraction. Not really my style but I can appreciate it.  *** Now – 2025.

2000 Aphillanthes, Cuvee des Galets

I recently ended a day of reading early 18th century Dutch and English manuscripts with a bottle of mature Cotes du Rhone Villages.  Decanting off the fine sediment of the 2000 Domaine Les Aphillanthes, Cuvee des Galets, Cotes du Rhone Villages is all that is required to prepare the bottle for tasting.  It immediately offers up berry cobbler, old leather and spices.  I happen to be a big fan of berry cobbler so this wine has a flavor that I enjoy.  It would be a notch more satisfying but for the alcohol poking through in the end.

2000 Domaine Les Aphillanthes, Cuvee des Galets, Cotes du Rhone Villages
Imported by Weygandt-Metzler.  This wine is a blend of mostly Grenache with Syrah and Mourvedre which is both fermented and aged in concrete. Alcohol 14.5%.  Rounded maturing aromas are underpinned by blue fruit.  In the mouth are blue fruits and lipstick which tastes like a mature blend.  There is softness from age, old leather, cinnamon, and berry cobble with a mix of orange acidity.  It is mouth filling with a soft marshmallow density.  There is a slight distraction from some heat poking through.  ***(*) Now – 2022.

Mature white dinner wines in Seattle

On an increasingly sunny evening, over goat cheese, a dinner of ravioli with butter sauce, and a Cardamon infused cake, I enjoyed three bottles of wine white.  The wines were served by a new friend who inherited his interest in wine from his father.  It is for him that I opened the 1979 De Foreville Barbaresco at my house not too long ago.  Last week we met up in Seattle for a dinner with mature white wines.

The bottles we drank were purchased upon release.  All of the wines he selected are drinking at peak maturity right now, though the Sauternes will clearly last.  The 2001 Weingut Robert Weil, Riesling Kabinett Halbtrocken, Rheingau is more expressive on the nose but when I revisited it at the end of the evening I was pleased by the evolution of its mouthfeel.  The 1986 Domaine Long Depaquit, Chablis Grand Cru Les Clos is a nice surprise because I drink very little old white Burgundy.  I thought it interesting how this wine still has some fruit and weight.  We wrapped the dinner up with a bottle of 1983 Chateau Rieussec, Sauternes.  We remarked on the darker color, perhaps more advanced than other Sauternes, but the wine in the mouth is good.  It is a good wine to progress too because it comes across as only moderately sweet which makes it easy to drink.  When I returned home I checked a bottle I have, from a completely different source, and it is similar in color.  Stay tuned for reports on future bottles drunk together!  Note, it was a casual evening so I only jotted down my impressions after the meal.

2001 Weingut Robert Weil, Riesling Kabinett Halbtrocken, Rheingau
Alcohol 10.5%.  A good maturing nose which remains expressive.  The flavors are front loaded becoming drier by the middle.  The wine is more about mouthfeel which continues to develop over the stones and minerals.  Drink up.

1986 Domaine Long Depaquit, Chablis Grand Cru Les Clos
Imported by Asherton Wine Imports.  Alcohol 12.5%.  It is a beautiful, golden straw color.  The aromas and flavors are in fine shape and any hints of maturity are only reflected in the color and a bit in flavor.  It remains focused with a touch of dense weight to the white and yellow fruit over some stone notes.

1983 Chateau Rieussec, Sauternes
A darker amber color but the wine is in good shape.  The nose is gentle, smelling of apricots.  In the mouth it comes across as moderately sweet due to the balancing acidity and glycerin infused body.  With air orange peel and baking spices come out and the length improves.  In a completely balanced state right now.