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Wines from Memorial Day weekend: 40+ year old Bordeaux and 10 year old Chateauneuf du Pape


Memorial Day weekend marked the second weekend in our new house.  We promised our daughter that she could invite several friends over so we hosted a BBQ/playdate for the families.  I would say that all of the adults drink wine on a regular basis but with minimal knowledge.  I decided to open the 1971 Chateau Montgrand-Milon, Pauillac for one couple that love to cook.  I figured that old wine should be drunk in an old house.  With my knowledge being limited to the 1970, 1975, and 1978 vintages I thought this bottle of 1971 might be passed its prime.  So I used my Durand to pop it open and to my surprise the wine was in great shape.  In fact this bottle opened up after half an hour and continued to drink perfectly well until it was drained.

According to Michael Broadbent the 1971 vintage was “relatively small but good quality” and that many wines “turned out better than the ’70s.”  Chateau Montgrand-Milon is the second label of Chateau Fonbadet, a Crus Bourgeois Superieur.  David Peppercorn noted in 1991 that the proprietor made “solid, classic Pauillacs.”  Solid, indeed was this bottle.  This was the favorite wine of everyone that evening.  There is no requirement that old and mature wines be great in my mind.  They must simply exhibit tertiary flavors that only come with age and drink well.  This bottle clearly met that requirement.

I also opened a bottle of 1975 Chateau Gruaud-Larose, St-Estephe which had the lowest fill of the quartet recently purchased.  Unfortunately, the fruit on this bottle had subsided such that the acidity and structure were more prominent.  Still, the bottle was finished and it was done so before all of the young 2012s were touched.

There were some questions about how wines age so I brought up a trio of 2005 Chateauneuf du Pape that I had opened the night before.  There was no denying that the 2005 Domaine La Barroche, Reserve, Chateauneuf du Pape is drinking great right now.  Actually, it is drinking at its peak right now and honestly was not such a hard follow-on from the older Bordeaux.  I even had to bring out another bottle! In contrast the 2005 Domaine du Vieux Telegraphe, Telegramme, Chateauneuf du Pape is still dialed down tight.  It was unforgiving the first night but while it gave up more bright, red fruit on the second night, there was not a single sign of a mature flavor.  This will probably last a very long time.  Finally, the 2005 Domaine Saint-Prefert, Reserve August Favier,  Chateauneuf du Pape exhibited a personality in the middle.  The maturity is coming out but the wine oscillates with air all the while showing ample power.  I would try this again in two years for it has a great future ahead.

I should note that all of these wines came from a cellar purchased by MacArthur Beverages.  I will continue to report on other old bottles that I have opened.

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1971 Chateau Montgrand-Milon, Pauillac
Imported by Frederick Wildman & Sons.  This wine is a blend of 50% Cabernet Sauvignon and 50% Merlot sourced from a 10 ha vineyard near Chateau Lynch Bages and Chateau Mouton Rothschild.  Top-shoulder fill.  Alcohol 11.8%.  There was a delicate Claret nose with attractive cedar notes.  In the mouth was a dense core of black and red fruit.  The wine had a slightly earthy and foxy start with a moderate amount of ripe structure.  The wine finished with a vintage perfume note.  A bit short in the finish but totally enjoyable.  ** Now.

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1975 Chateau Gruaud-Larose, St-Julien
Imported by Majestic Wine and Spirits.  Most likely a blend of 62% Cabernet Sauvignon, 25% Merlot, 9% Cabernet Franc, and 4% Petit Verdot.  Top-shoulder fill.  Alcohol 11-13%.  This was a more rustic wine with thinner fruit but remained solid throughout the evening.  Though rustic, the acidity was attractive * Now.

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2005 Domaine La Barroche, Reserve, Chateauneuf du Pape
Imported by Small Production Wines.  This wine is a blend of Grenache, Mourvedre, Syrah, and Cinsault.  Alcohol 15%.  The nose was immediately aromatic with mature, garrigue notes.  This mouthfilling wine became grippy with air offering ripe, mature flavors and ample amounts of garrigue.  It took on a dense creamy, blue fruit with enough acidity to carry everything forward.  It was rounded and earthy with a touch of roast.  Drinking great right now so why hold on?  **** Now-2018.

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2005 Domaine du Vieux Telegraphe, Telegramme, Chateauneuf du Pape
Imported by Kermit Lynch.  This wine is a blend of 90% Grenache and 10% Mourvedre sourced from younger vines.  Alcohol 14.5%.  This was the most taut and structured of the three Chateauneuf du Papes.  There were bright red flavors, almost metallic minerality, plenty of acidity, and no signs of maturity.  *** 2020-2030.

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2005 Domaine Saint-Prefert, Reserve August Favier,  Chateauneuf du Pape
Imported by Michael Skurnik Wines.  This is a blend of mostly Grenache with some old-vine Cinsault and Syrah.  The fruit was whole-cluster fermented then aged for 18 months in concrete vats and used oak hogsheads.  Alcohol 14.5%.  There was a generous mature nose. The wine had more red flavors to start then with air both creamy flavors and flesh developed. After two days there were brighter, blue fruit flavors that oscillated with ripe black cherry fruit while maintaining a grippy nature.  This round, dense wine remained fresh with a lot of power.  **** Now-2025.

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