Tasting a trio of old wines with Lou
When sorting through old bottles of wine I first reject those with the lowest fill, sick color, depressed or extended corks, and signs of seepage. I then gently check that the cork is firm by pushing on the top of the capsule. Sometimes a bit of liquid comes out from old seepage and other times the cork shifts under the slightest pressure. So it was to my surprise that this first bottle of 1969 Domaine Duchet, Beaune Bressandes revealed a thick crust of dried mold that shifted with any pressure from the worm of my Durand. I think the top of the capsule was firm enough to trick me. Needless to write the wine was a disgusting mess. That is a shame as 1969 is considered the finest vintage of the period according to Michael Broadbent. According to Robert Parker, the Duchet holdings were put together in the 1940s. In the 1960s Monsieur Duchet was estate bottling half of his wine with the intention of selling it direct to client. However, this one-time mayor of Beaune became busy with politics and never sold the wine. Robert Haas discovered this cache of wine in the 1980s and imported it into America. Thirty years later that labels are still in perfect shape.
As for the drinkable wines, the 1985 Domaine du Clos des Epeneaux, Pommard 1er Cru Clos Des Epeneaux Monopole showed great promise at first. Though initially in clear need of air, it had good power, a youthful profile, and attractive minerals. In my mind it was going to be better than the 1971 Chateau Haut-Bailly, Graves which was in very good shape. The cork is the cleanest one to date. The Clos des Epeneaux oscillated in behavior and never settled down. The Haut-Bailly, on the other hand continued to develop with air. The last glass was the best, worthy of three stars. I am beginning to believe that the old Bordeaux from this cellar need to be decanted and aired out for 30 to 60 minutes. They have thrown so much sediment that this will yield an extra glass of wine. The wine will also drink better, albeit for a shorter window, so make sure your partner or a friend is around. These wines were purchased as MacArthur Beverages.
1969 Domaine Duchet, Beaune Bressandes
Imported by Vineyard Brands. A bad bottle!
1985 Domaine du Clos des Epeneaux, Pommard 1er Cru Clos Des Epeneaux Monopole
Shipped by Cannan & Wasserman. Imported by Luke’s Distributing Co. Alcohol 11-14%. The nose turned after one hour offering up strange aromas. In the mouth there were still hints of ripeness, tart flavors, and eventually hints of wood. The wine was generally nice in the mouth with supportive structure. It oscillated between citric flavors and ripe fruit. In summary, this was young at first, pretty at times, and showed depth at other times. **(*) Now-2025.
1971 Chateau Haut-Bailly, Graves
Imported by Dreyfus Ashby & Co. Alcohol 12%. There were fresh evergreen aromas at first then darker and dusty notes. The mouth was fresh in the front with some initial weight, grip, and juicy acidity. With air the wine fleshed out, ultimately taking on dark red fruit, some Big Red flavors, and cherries. The wine was expansive with juicy body, and an ethereal finish that left texture on the gums. The aftertaste even brought a hint of vanilla. **/*** Now.