DC Old Gems Offline


This past Saturday eight of us gathered on our deck for a casual tasting of 20+ year old wines. Present were Lou F., Joan R., Chris B., Marjorie H., Shane V., Denise V., Jenn, and myself. We drank the whites followed by the reds and wrapped up with the ports. We drank the red wines in vintage order. I didn’t take detailed notes as we were mostly standing around talking. The whites weren’t so hot but the reds and ports were very good. The 1964, 1966, 1970, and 1984 were the favorite reds of the evening. I love knowing that 40-50 year old wines can be rocking.

1983 Dr. H. Thanisch, Braunberger Jusser Sonnenuhr Spatlese, Mosel Saar Ruwer
1990 Louis Latour, Corton-Charlemagne GC
1992 Louis Latour, Corton-Charlemagne GC
We started with the 1983 Thanisch, it had a light petrol nose but was very dry and devoid of most fruit. With swirling you could coax more out of it but seemed stalled after half an hour. The 1990 Louis Latour Corton-Charlemagne was cloudy with slight signs of seepage and while drinkable, was not good. Sharp nose, harsh up front but suprising smooth finish and aftertaste. And the 1992 Louis Latour Corton-Charlemagne was crystal clear, assertive, some minerals very brutish slightly tannic but OK.

1964 Louis Martini, Special Selection, Cabernet Sauvignon en magnum


1966 Louis Martini, Special Selection, Cabernet Sauvignon en magnum
So then on to the Martini’s. Both the 1964 and 1966 were drinking really well and never faded off. The 1964 had the stronger nose at first. Lots of cab sauv cedar. The 1964 was softer, more mature, and all around integrated whereas the 1966 had more youthful fruit to it and some tannins. They held on all evening and were clearly well stored. There was 1.5 glasses left of each magnum that we drank the next night, still good but little versions of the night before.

1970 Ch. Pichon Lalande, Pauillac


1978 Ch. Pichon Lalande, Pauillac
The 1970 Pichon Lalande was lovely and in great condition. Clearly a very good wine from a very good vintage. Glorious nose, well rounded in the mouth, lovely and it was a step up over the 1978 which was a mini version. The 60s and 70s were the favorite wines of the evening for us. If you tasted these four blind you’d swear Martini’s were from Bordeaux (which is what I had been told in the past).

1982 Ch. Montelena, Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley
1984 Ch. Montelena, Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley
Then a big stylist change to the 1982 Montelena. An initially strong nose, cedar, some dust, earthier and more mature than the 1984. The 1984 Montelena was lovey with dark berries and shoe leather, still on the young side and somewhat primary and developed through the evening. The most potential out of all of the wines.

1990 Ravenswood, Pickberry, Sonoma County
1990 Ridge, Cabernet Sauvignon, York Creek
The 1990 Ravenswood sucked, not a bad bottle, stored in a cold room since release, but not good stuff. Disjointed roasted fruit, tannins, etc. I believe this was the first wine dumped. The 1990 Ridge was austere in comparison but after several hours it showed as a lithe wine with tart red fruit, ample acidity, well made, good mouthfeel almost still young with fine tannic finish. The 1990 was not as good as the 1960s and 1970s so I think it suffered in comparison.

1970 Warre’s vintage port
1970 Dow’s vintage port
And then the ports. 1970 Dow’s showed sweeter, primary fruit and the 1970 Warre’s was more complex, feminine, and interesting. Both lovely bottles of port. Jenn and I absolutely love vintage port and wish we could drink more.

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  1. June 10, 2011 at 2:22 pm

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