Two 19th c. variants on “Madeira Wine A Parody” of the song “The Willow”

I find that “Madeira Wine” is a riot of a song particularly since I love both the drink itself and its history.  It appears in at least two published instances during the early 19th century.  The only dated instance is from October 17, 1808, in the Baltimore newspaper Federal Republican & Commercial Gazette.  The second instance is an anonymously published single sheet of music held by The Library of Congress dated to the first decade of the 19th century.  It is credited to “a Baltimorean” whom I take to be the same for both.

“Madeira Wine” is a self-titled parody on the song “The Willow” which is an Elizabethan folk song dating to the late 16th century.  This folk song is famously sung by Desdemona in William Shakespeare’s Othello.   Several times Desdemona sings ,”willow, willow, willow”.  The sheet music fully parodies “The Willow” which we see logically progress as more and more Madeira is consumed.  At first there is, “Mellow mellow mellow” then “Tipsy tipsy tipsy” and finally “I’m drunk, I’m drunk, I’m drunk”.

There is perhaps an allusion taking place in “Madeira Wine”.  I am no musicologist so bear with me. When Desdemona sings “The Willow” she is foretelling her eventual death.  Madeira was certainly the wine of America with Port and Claret that of England.  When the song was published, the turbulent times between America and England were soon to escalate into the War of 1812.  Could the Baltimorean be alluding to the troubles of the time?

Madeira Wine Newspaper

A Parody…Madeira Wine. Oct 17, 1808. [1]

A PARODY
On the famous Song “The Willow,”...to
the same tune.
MADEIRA WINE.

O fill me up another glass of that Madeira
Wine,
O fill me up another glass…for ’tis extremely fine,
I like the taste…so pray make haste,
A bump fill for me;
For here I sit…not quite drunk yet,
Altho’ I’ve drank so free.

I love to drink Madeira…no other Wine
endure,
I love to drink Madeira when it is old &
pure.
Of my full cask…a single flask
Is all that’s left to me;
That flask I’ll try…’tho’ here am I
Half tipsy as you see.
Half-tipsy tipsy
Half-tipsy as you see.

I once lov’d Port and Claret.. I thought
it ne’er would end,
I once lov’d Port and Claret…and so did
you my friend.
My Port so stout…is all drank out,
The Claret’s sour to me;
And I’ve drank fine, Madeira Wine,
Until I’m drunk you see–
I’m drunk, I’m drunk, I’m drunk,
Until I’m drunk you see!!!

Madeira Wine Sheet Music

Madeira wine a parody on the Willow. The LOC. [2]

MADEIRA WINE.
A Parody on the WILLOW.
By A BALTIMOREAN

O fill me up a_nother glass, Of that Madeira Wine,
O fill me up a_nother glass, For ’tis extremely fine
like the taste so pray make haste A Bumper fill for me For here I sit not
quite drunk yet, But mellow as you see Mellow mellow mellow But
mellow as you see.

2

I love to drink Madeira, no other wine endure,
I love to drink Madeira, when it is old and pure;
Of my full cask, a single flask, is all that’s left to me,
That flask I’ll try, tho’ here am I; half tipsy as you see.
Tipsy, &c.

3

I once lov’d Port and Claret, I thought it ne’er would end,
I once lov’d Port and Claret, and so did you my friend;
My Port so stout, is all drank out, the Claret’s sour to me,
And I’ve drank fine, Madeira wine, until I’m drunk you see.
I’m drunk, &c.

 


[1] Federal Republican & Commercial Gazette Monday, Oct 17, 1808, Baltimore, MD Vol: I Issue: 46 Page: 2

[2] Madeira wine a parody on the Willow. [180u, monographic. Publisher not indicated, 180] Notated Music. https://www.loc.gov/item/2015562175/.

Wine glasses and pitchers in the Friendship Album of Moyses Walens

Album Amicorum of Moyses Walens, of Cologne. The British Library. [1]

This fantastic dining scene caught my attention when The British Library Tweeted it earlier this summer.  It appears in the friendship album of Moyses Walens, of Cologne, and is from the same period as the Album Amicorum of Gervasius Fabricius, of Saltzburg.  This particular scene includes two additional details not seen in the Fabricius album: the storage and serving of the wine.  In the foreground bottom, are two large pitchers of wine cooling in a fountain of running water. In the left background, a standing man, his attention focused, is pouring white wine from a pitcher held by his outstretched arm into the wine glass of a gentleman in gold, seated at the table.  The glass is clear, large, and quite substantial, perhaps a variant of the tazza, with at least two large knops on the stem.  At the same table, the women with the pink striped dress and black hat with gold trim, holds a more delicate, clear glass containing white wine.

Detail from Album Amicorum of Moyses Walens, of Cologne. The British Library. [1]


[1]  Album Amicorum of Moyses Walens, of Cologne. 1605–15. Shelfmark:  Add MS 18991. The British Library. URL: https://www.bl.uk/collection-items/friendship-album-of-moyses-walens

Wine glasses in the Friendship Album of Gervasius Fabricius

Album Amicorum of Gervasius Fabricius, of Saltzburg. The British Library. [1]

When German and Dutch speaking students took tours through Europe during the mid-16th through mid-17th centuries, they kept friendship albums.  In these albums they would collect paintings and drawings of what they saw and experienced.  The picture featured in this post shows a group of men and women dining outside at a seaside estate.  There are three different styles of glasses.  Three men at the table are holding tall, clear flutes, two with white wine and one with red.  The man in the center foreground appears to offer a metal or painted gold-colored coupe of red wine to a seated lady.  Finally, the seated man in the background at the back end of the table, holds more of a goblet-shaped gold-colored vessel.  One detail I do not see is any serving vessel for the wine.

Detail from Album Amicorum of Gervasius Fabricius, of Saltzburg. The British Library. [1]


[1] Album Amicorum of Gervasius Fabricius, of Saltzburg. 1595-1637. Shelfmark: Add MS 17025. The British Library. URL: https://www.bl.uk/collection-items/friendship-album-of-gervasius-fabricius-zu-klesheim

A brief history of the 1928 Collection du Docteur Barolet (Henri de Villamont) Pommard-Epenots

A Brief History

According to the Christie’s auction house, the wines of Dr. Albert Barolet have their origins in a business created by his father Mr. Arthur Barolet.[1]  Mr. Arthur Barolet would purchase wine in barrel for delivery to his cellar in Beaune.  Here the wine would undergo elevage, bottling, and maturation at which point it was privately sold to various customers.

Map of Pommard from Camille Rodier “Le Vin de Bourgogne” c.1920.

There appears to be but few records regarding the Barolet firm which might be the result of it dealing with mostly private clients.  The firm of Arthur Barolet et Fils was founded in 1830.  This date is found on a blank menu titled “Gargantua aux Hospices de Beaune” from 1906 as well as on company letterhead from the 1940s.[2] In the early 20th century, there are a few listings of the firm mostly with regards to the annual sales of wine at the Hospices de Beaune.

Service announcement for the death of Arthur Barolet, 18 November 1931. [3]

Arthur Barolet passed away in 1931 at the Hospices de Beaune. [3]  The business was taken over by Dr. Albert Barolet who placed a few advertisements for the sale of barrels over the next few years.  The public side of the company appears to leave few traces after this point.

Advertisement by Dr. Albert Barolet during 1934. [4]

Upon Dr. Albert Barolet’s death in 1969, the wines were left to his two sisters who in turn sold the wine off to the Swiss firm Henri de Villamont.  That fall, Harry Waugh, wine director at Harvey’s of Bristol, visited the Barolet mansion.  Here he found tens of thousands of binned bottles with vintages dating back to 1911.  The youngest vintages, such as 1959, were still in wood.

The Villamont firm agreed to a major auction with Christie’s in order to determine the market pricing.  The bottles were unlabeled so new labels had to be created.  The Dr. Barolet wines continued to be sold after the first Christie’s auction in 1969.  According to Michael Broadbent’s notes, there was at least a second tranche released which had been recorked by de Villamont.

Local Sales of Dr. Barolet Wines

Dr. Barolet Wines offered at MacArthur Liquors’ Grand Opening, May 7, 1972. [5]

The wines were also available in the Washington, DC area beginning in 1972.  The pricing at MacArthur Liquors puts them in the range of the then recently released wines of Domaine de la Romanee-Conti.  In reviewing two distinct periods of advertisements by Woodley Discount Wines & Spirits, also of Washington, DC, we can see that the prices nearly doubled between 1972 and 1979.

  • 1928 Dr. Barolet, Pommard-Rugiens – $26.95 in 1972
  • 1928 Dr. Barolet, Pommard-Rugiens – $69.95 in 1979
  • 1929 Dr. Barolet, Beaune – $17.95 in 1972
  • 1935 Dr. Barolet, Vosne Romanee Malconsorts – $49.95 in 1979
  • 1937 Dr. Barolet, Chambolle Musigny – $39.95  in 1979
  • 1937 Dr. Barolet, Gevrey Chambertin – $18.95 in 1972
  • 1937 Dr. Barolet, Grands Echezeaux – $18.95 in 1972
  • 1937 Dr. Barolet, Grands Echezeaux – $39.95 in 1979

The Bottle

The bottle of 1928 Collection du Docteur Barolet (Henri de Villamont) Pommard-Epenots features a tan label which is both torn and stained.  It appears to have been damp at some point resulting in an awkward positioning.

The back of the bottle features two gold foil stickers, one from the auction house and one from the importer.  This particular bottle was purchased at the 2006 Acker Merrall & Condit auction of Rudy Kurniawan’s “THE Cellar”.  The 1,700 lots which were sold brought in nearly $11 million.  As the bottle came from Kurniawan’s cellar it is immediatley suspect as a fake.  The importer strip label declares the contents as “3/4 QUART” which would date the label prior to the fall of 1976 when the metric system was adopted by liquor companies in America.  It also features a spelling mistake in the statement, “IMPORTED EXCUSIVELY FOR: VINTAGE CELLARS” which appears to reference a company that did not exist in the early 1970s.  The strip label itself is found over the embossed “75 cl” at the bottom of the glass wine bottle.

The metal capsule is clearly not from the 1920s nor is the cork.  The cork has some age to it and could possibly originate from 1969 or later when Henri de Villamont offered a tranche of recorked bottles.  There are no marks on the sides of the cork but the top does bear a circle with “F.S.” inside of it.

Detecting whether the wine in the bottle was blended by Rudy Kurniawan or is the real thing is a bit of a task.  It is a long-held belief that Dr. Barolet doctored his wines.  Back in 1990, the great collector Lloyd Flatt felt the wines had either see the addition of Port or Brandy.[6]  This is echoed in the opinion of John Tilson who was told Cognac was added to the barrels.

When I saw the mark on the cork, a particular phrase came to mind which is the exact same phrase that occured to my friend.  After I showed him my various pictures of the bottle, labels, and then the cork he quipped, “Fake Sh*t.”


[1] COLLECTION DU DOCTEUR BAROLET. Christie’s Fine and Rare Wines, Sale #1206, New York, 19 March 2003.

[2] “Gargantua aux Hospices de Beaune” published by Arthur Barolet et Fils. FR212316101__menus__M_III_01906. Bibliotheque municipale de Dijon.

[3] Le Progrès de la Côte-d’Or : journal politique. Dijon. 20 November 1931. Bibliothèque nationale de France, département Droit, économie, politique, JO 88353 URL: http://catalogue.bnf.fr/ark:/12148/cb32844000t

[4] Le Progrès de la Côte-d’Or : journal politique. Dijon. 12 August 1934. Bibliothèque nationale de France, département Droit, économie, politique, JO 88353. URL: http://catalogue.bnf.fr/ark:/12148/cb32844000t

[5] Grand Opening advertisement for Addy Bassin’s MacArthur Liquors.  May 7, 1972.  The Sunday Star.

[6] Berger, Dan. “At New Orleans Tasting, Everyone Raised a Glass to Vintage Burgundies”. May 3, 1990.  The Los Angeles Times.

[7] Tilson, John. “THE SORDID STORY OF WINE MANIPULATION & WINE FRAUD COVERING OVER 40 YEARS OF TASTING OLD WINES”. The Underground Wineletter. URL: https://www.undergroundwineletter.com/2012/01/the-sordid-story-of-wine-manipulation-wine-fraud-covering-over-40-years-of-tasting-old-wines/

Early 19th century decanters with Logic, Jerry, Tom, and Corinthian Kate

An Introduction, Gay moments of Logic, Jerry, Tom and Corinthian Kate. From Pierce Egan’s Life in London , 1823. [1]

Thoughts of old decanters led me to publish this post featuring Tom, Jerry, Logic, and Corinthian Kate.  You might recognize the three men for I feature them as the title image in my Fine, Rare, and Capital Old Wine page.  If you look closely at the table you will see a trio of three-ringed decanters of which two contain red wine.  These two decanters are placed in coasters.  Perhaps they contain claret?

egan-pierce-life-838i2-064423_detail

Detail from An Introduction, Gay moments of Logic, Jerry, Tom and Corinthian Kate. From Pierce Egan’s Life in London , 1823. [1]


[1]Egan, Pierce.  Life in London. 1823.  The British Library.  Shelfmark: 838.i.2.  URL: https://www.bl.uk/collection-items/pierce-egans-life-in-london

Mature Burgundy: Barolet, DRC, Giroud, Roumier, and more

OldBurg15

A group of us recently gathered to taste mature bottles of Burgundy.  Due to everyone’s generosity, several different flights were formed.  We began with a blind flight of three different Champagne from the 1996 vintage.  This was followed by the main focus on both the 1965 and 1966 vintages of Domaine de la Romanée-Conti, La Tâche and Romanée-Conti.  A very old bottle of Burgundy was then served.  A pair of Champagne Brut Rose was served while dinner was prepared.  After a slew of dinner wines, both young and old, dessert wines were deployed.  Several of the wines were off but due to everyone’s generosity, there was plenty to drink at a generally high level of pleasure.

1996 Champagne

OldBurg1

We kicked off the evening with a trio of Champagne from 1996.  The guest who generously brought these bottles poured them so we could taste them blind.  Of course I had no chance of guessing correctly, I have far too little experience with Champagne.  But I suspect with that experience these wines could have been identified blind.  The Gosset is mature and vinous, a wine to drink now. The Billecart-Salmon is elegant and lively, delivering its tart and chalky flavors with verve.  The Philipponnat is intense, rich and ripe, yet balanced by green apples and lemons.  I particularly enjoyed the last two.

Blind #1 – 1996 Gosset, Grand Millésime, Champagne Brut
Imported by Vieux Vins.  Alcohol 12%. A touch of stink eventually blows off. In the mouth are mature flavors followed by ripe fruit in the middle. Age has given it a vinous quality. Additional air reveals this is a wine to drink now.  *** Now.

Blind #2 – 1996 Billecart-Salmon, Cuvee Nicolas Francois Billecart, Champagne Brut
Imported by Vieux Vins.  Alcohol 12.5%.  Elegant on the nose with a fine mousse and lively precise nature in the mouth. The flavors cut through the palate, supported by acidity. Quite enjoyable with attractive verve. It wraps up with tart citrus and a chalky finish. **** Now – 2029.

Blind #3 – 1996 Philipponnat, Clos des Goisses, Champagne Brut
Alcohol 13%.  A touch more aged yellow in the glass. The most intense nose with an intense offering in the mouth. The bubbles explode upon drinking, leaving a short-lived mousse which is replaced by a green apple note. It moves on to rich and ripe flavors with a lovely lemon finish. **** Now – 2029.

1965 and 1966 Domaine de la Romanée-Conti

OldBurg7

I was fortunate to purchase a small parcel of old wines including the following quartet of Domaine de la Romanée-Conti. The wines were originally purchased by a couple in the Washington, DC area who bought their wines from MacArthur Beverages. For decades these bottles were stored in the basement.  I am not sure what happened during those years, perhaps a basement flood, for the labels and fills varied.

These were not the best looking bottles but given the scarcity and generally insane pricing of these wines  I had to organize a tasting around them.  For I doubt I could ever again taste the 1965 and 1966 vintages of Romanée-Conti and La Tâche in one sitting.  And what a pairing of vintages, the disastrous 1965 with the very good 1966.  But I had another reason for pairing the two vintages.

Neal Martin wrote in Fermented Grape Juice: Romanée-Conti 1953-2005 how Aubert de Villaine recently served the 1965 Romanée-Conti to a large group.  Michael Broadbent rates this soggy vintage zero stars yet the very late October picking resulted in a wine that Neal Martin found “mocks its vintage reputation and defies all expectations.”  One guest with deep Burgundy experience believes he had never before tasted any Burgundy from the 1965 vintage.

The wines were single-decanted then immediately poured.  With all four glasses in front of us it was obvious our bottle of 1965 Romanée-Conti was flawed as was the 1966 La Tâche.  The 1966 Romanée-Conti was suffering a bit but the 1965 La Tâche was in fine form.  Despite being less than ideal, the 1966 Romanée-Conti  initially offered a complex nose I had trouble describing.  The 1965 La Tâche was the star of this flight for me.  A lovely wine all around and complete shock given the vintage.  Compared to some of the other wines with similar age, this has quite a bit of substance.  I held on to my glass for a long time.

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1965 Domaine de la Romanée-Conti, La Tâche, S/N 01281
Imported by Frederick Wildman. Very clean on the nose, revealing incense and perfume. Elegant yet with depth. This is a mid-weight wine which still sports some supporting tannins. With air it reveals a silky nature, infused with fat, and a baking spiced finish. **** Now but will last.

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1965 Domaine de la Romanée-Conti, Romanée-Conti, S/N 00578
Imported by Frederick Wildman. The stink on the nose is hard to get around. Shame as it is round and dense in the mouth with a mineral cut. The flavors have power but the nose reveals it is a flawed bottle that eventually falls apart. Not Rated.

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1966 Domaine de la Romanée-Conti, La Tâche, S/N 03090
Imported by Frederick Wildman. Shame, the worst nose and gross in the mouth. Not Rated.

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1966 Domaine de la Romanée-Conti, Romanée-Conti, S/N 01221
Imported by Frederick Wildman. An exotic nose with perfumed aromas that I have difficulty describing. In the mouth it is supple and elegant with some spice. *** Now.

A Blind, Rather Old Bottle of Burgundy

After the DRC flight we were treated to a bottle of Burgundy served blind.  Two lines of inquiry developed as to the vintage and appellation.  Though one guest eventually narrowed in on Pommard, I do not possess that sort of experience so I focused in on vintage.  It was certainly older than 1964.  Based on a handful of bottles I have tasted from the 1940s and 1930s I decided it had to be older, perhaps 1920s or even 1910s.

The bottle was revealed to be 1928 Collection du Docteur Barolet (Henri de Villamont) Pommard-Epenots.  I was excited to guess the general age but more so to finally have tasted a Dr. Barolet wine.  The excitement level rose even more when we next learned that it was acquired at the 2006 Acker auction of Rudy Kurniawan’s “THE Cellar”.  I will write more about this particular bottle in a subsequent post but whether it be a real or fake bottle, it was very good.  Michael Broadbent writes that the 1928 Epenots and Rugiens were among the best of original bottles at the 1969 Christie’s auction.  At our tasting, it was one of the best bottles as well.

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1928 Collection du Docteur Barolet (Henri de Villamont) Pommard-Epenots
Purchased at “THE Cellar”, Acker-Merrall & Condit, January 2006. The lightest and most mature brick color of all wines tasted this night. Clear in the glass. A fine, scented nose with ripe hints. It develops with air showing apple orchard and hints of red fruit. In the mouth it is red fruited, tart with some vein of very old wine flavor. There is a meaty note. Precision comes from the spine of acidity. It focuses with air.  **** Now but will last.

Champagne Refreshment

OldBurg2

A pair of Champagnes acted as a palate refresher while the preparation of the Coq au Vin was finished.  The Paul Bara, Special Club is on the sweet side for my preferences.  I can imagine serving it outside at a BBQ.  I prefer the Tattinger, Comtes de Champagne.

2012 Paul Bara, Special Club, Champagne Brut Rose
Imported by Envoyer Imports. Alcohol 12%.  A burst of sweet fruits comes with the initially firm bubbles.  A creamy mousse persists along with the sweet fruit.  *** Now – 2024.

2006 Tattinger, Comtes de Champagne, Champagne Brut Rose
Imported by Kirkcrest Imports.  Alcohol 12.5%.  Aromatic.  Focused flavors and firm bubbles lead to dry, baking spices.  There is a vein of sharp acidity around which rounded, berry notes form until picking up a racy hint in the finish.  ***(*) Now – 2029.

Dinner Wines

With dinner we moved on to several old and a few young Burgundies.  Some of the oldest Burgundies I have drunk comes from Maison Camille Giroud.  Founded in the 19th century, this negociant firm still believes in long barrel aging.  They hold back stock, releasing some wines decades after the vintage.  The 1949 Camille Giroud, Volnay Santenay Premier Cru and 1966 Camille Giroud, Volney 1er Cru Clos des Chenes reflect perfect provenance.  Both wines sport some old-wine concentration but the 1949 is more tangy and elegant from age whereas the 1966 is completely different with its attractive baked cookie notes.  It was my second experience with the 1978 Mongeard-Mugneret, Grands-Echezeaux and I still like it very much.  It is a hedonistic wine for drinking now.  In moving forward nearly two decades, the 1994 Domaine G. Roumier, Chambolle-Musigny is certainly younger but still full of character.  I particularly liked the scented nose and understated complexity.  In contrast, the 2002 Domaine Annick Parent, Volnay Les Fremiets  is very young and tonight, in need of more age.

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1949 Camille Giroud, Volnay Santenay Premier Cru
Burgundy Wine Company Selection.  Round with sweet and sweaty flavors with a beautiful, old-wine concentration.  The finish is initially a little short and there is some heat but there is plenty to engage with.  The wine does flesh out with air, taking on tangy citrus, spices, and stones in the long, lifted, ethereal finish. **** Now.

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1966 Camille Giroud, Volney 1er Cru Clos des Chenes
Imported by USa Wine Imports. Burgundy Wine Company Selection.  A deep mahogany color.  The array of spices on nose reminds me of Nurnberger Lebkuchen.  A round and sweet start brings on some old-school flavors carried by a structural vein.  Sandalwood. **** Now – 2024.

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1978 Mongeard-Mugneret, Grands-Echezeaux
Shipped by Robert Haas Selections. Imported by Vineyard Brands.  Exotic perfume on the nose.  The cherry fruit flavors persist with good acidity.  This is a weighty, expansive wine with fat in the finish.  Hedonistic and drinking well right now.  **** Now.

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1994 Domaine G. Roumier, Chambolle-Musigny
Alcohol 12.7%.  Nice with a strawberry scented nose.  An elegant wine with some gravelly density.  It balances youth with complexity leaving the impression of a lovely, characterful wine.  ***(*) Now – 2029.

2002 Domaine Annick Parent, Volnay Les Fremiets
Very youthful, pure, almost candied with flavors of red grapefruit.  In the end, I think this wine needs more time.  *** 2022-2032.

Dessert Wine

With a chocolate tart we had a small grouping of dessert wines.  In order of age, the 1946 Bodegas Albala, Don P.X. Convento, Montilla-Moriles is perhaps the most concentrated wine I have drunk.  With notes of dried figs and baking spices, this unctuous wine has enough acidity to keep it balanced.  There is so much flavor packed in that you only need the tiniest of pours.  The 1964 Hermannshof, Niersteiner Kehr und Flaschenhahl Riesling Auslese, Rheinhessen continues to deliver unctuous flavors with tea notes but this bottle showed a touch less acidity than before.  It is always a treat to taste these old bottles of Riesling.  Finally, the 1968 Lodovico e Piero Antinori, Vino Santo Rosso Riserva offered a good surprise.  The nose was pungent, evocative of Madeira, with dried fruit and spices, along with a touch of red fruit.  I had no idea what to expect so I was pleased.

1946 Bodegas Albala, Don P.X. Convento, Montilla-Moriles
Imported by Classical Wines.  Alcohol 17%.  Bottled in 2011.  Surely, the most concentrated wine I have tasted.  Incredibly dark and viscous enough to stain the glass brown.  Lifted aromas of dried figs and baking spices.  An acidity driven start followed by a knife-edge of acidity pierces through the unctuous and sweet flavors.  Fresh, wet baking spiced flavors coat and persist in the mouth for a long time.  One of the most concentrated wines I have ever dried, you only need a tiny pour.  **** Now until whenever!

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1964 Hermannshof, Niersteiner Kehr und Flaschenhahl Riesling Auslese, Rheinhessen
Shipped by Allyn & Scott Wines.  Imported by Wine Cellars. From the Don Stott Cellar.  A youthful yet aged golden yellow color.  Baking spices on the nose.  A sweet core with weighty flavors of apricot and tea.  A bit soft, plumped up with fat and perfume.  There is less obvious acidity but the tea and tannins keep the wine fresh.  *** Now.

1968 Lodovico e Piero Antinori, Vino Santo Rosso Riserva
Imported by T. Elenteny Imports.  Alcohol 16%.  Wow, of course I like this wine for the pungent aromatics remind me a bit of Madeira.  There are flavors of sweet, spiced, dried fruit and plenty of texture around the fuller bodied wine.  There is enough acidity to be supportive.  The wine tastes of mature flavors with old leather and old-school notes in the finish.  Towards the end this viscous wine becomes more red-fruited.  ***(*) Now – 2039.

Wines That Were DOA

The following three bottles were bad!

  • NV (1970s) Simi, Burgundy, Sonoma
  • 1978 E. Guigal, Hermitage
  • 1985 Comte Armand, Pommard 1er Cru Clos des Epeneaux

A disintegrating label yet solid 1966 Lafite Rothschild

A widow recently sold off the small remains of her wine cellar.  The wines were originally purchased from MacArthur Beverages a long time ago, then stored in the basement of her house. There was nearly a case of 1966 Chateau Lafite Rothschild, Pauillac with labels varying from largely intact to disintegrating.  I picked bottles with the best fills, which coincidentally had the worst labels.  Last month, I opened a bottle with the lowest fill to gauge what I had purchased.

The 1966 vintage of Lafite was available in Washington, DC for several years.  In 1970, you could purchase 1966 Lafite for $9.50 a bottle.  By 1971, the price had crept up to $12 before skyrocketing to $20 in 1972.  You can understand how this massive increase in French wine prices, in part, led to more people buying Californian wine.

Under the capsule, the top of the cork was covered with mold which was working its way down the long cork.  While not the best preserved cork, at least half of it was still in business.  I decanted the wine into a flask then took a sniff of a freshly poured glass.  It smelled clean.

Edmund Penning-Rowsell writes that Lafite went through a bit of a bad spell between 1964 and 1974.  David Peppercorn reports that 323 tonneaux were produced that vintage which is a greater than in 1982.  I relay this information because I found this bottle just moderately good.  It did smell and taste of good condition despite the fill and label.  My impression seems to follow others on Cellar Tracker.  While the wine is now in a tertiary state with cigar box, earth, and meat, there is good weight and even a sense of fat.  I happily drank it with relishing thoughts of what is in the other bottles.

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1966 Chateau Lafite Rothschild, Pauillac
Shipped by Laurent Lescure.  Imported by Capitol City Liquors Co.  This is a blend of mostly Cabernet Sauvignon followed by Merlot, Cabernet Franc, and Petit Verdot.  Upper to top shoulder fill.  A garnet-mahogany color.  A slight herbaceous edge to the nose but also earth and meat.  The flavors are light yet the body is weighty and develops a round edge.  With air, flavors of tart red fruit take on cigar box by the middle and graphite in the end.  A pretty wine, completely smooth, which becomes meaty with luxurious, ethereal fat in the finish.  **(*) Now.