Archive for the ‘History of Wine’ Category

Syrah from Viala and Vermorel’s Ampelographie

As the previous post featured a wine made from Syrah I decided to include an illustration of a Syrah bunch from Viala and Vermorel’s Ampélographie.  It was published just over one century ago in seven volumes, featuring 500 chromolithographed images of grape varieties.

Syrah from Viala and Vermorel Ampélographie. [1]

[1] Ampélographie. Tome 2 / publiée sous la direction de P. Viala,…, V. Vermorel,… ; avec la collaboration de A. Bacon, A. Barbier, A. Berget… [et al.] 1901-1910. Bibliothèque nationale de France. URL:

[2] I was also inspired by Mannie Berk’s inclusion of the Bastardo variety in our most recent Madeira tasting booklet.

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A forgotten 19th c. account of a hogshead of Chateau Haut-Brion purchased in 1669

Long View of London from Bankside by Wenceslaus Hollar, 1647. Wikimedia.

The earliest references to the wine of Chateau Haut-Brion in England are found in the cellar book of King Charles II for whom 169 bottles of “wine of Hobriono” were served in 1660 and 1661.[1]  Just a few years later Samuel Pepys famously drank “a sort of French wine, called Ho Bryan” at the Royal Oak Tavern.[2]  Unbeknownst at the time it would soon be difficult to procure French wine.

Between 1665 and 1666, the Great Plague of London killed almost one quarter of the London population only to be followed by the Great Fire of 1666 which destroyed the central part of London.

Outside of London, the Second Anglo Dutch War raged on the seas during the same period.  It was a war fought to control the sea and trade routes.  The Calendar of State Papers of the reign of Charles II are full of references to wine.  During the war the accounts detail the capture of prize ships sometimes “richly laden” with wine.  So much wine was brought into some ports that prices even lowered.

After the war merchants resumed purchasing wine from France.  The calendered accounts follow this normal trade in wine but now add comments on size, price, and sometimes quality of the vintage.  For example during October 1668, many English ships were loading up on wine at Bordeaux even though “the French hold the wines at great price.”[3]  There was less of the 1669 Bordeaux vintage to go around with one report from October 1669 claiming “that there will not be so much wine made there as formerly”.[4]

It is possible that the smaller 1669 vintage is what Lord Montague purchased from Richard Blatchford when he was billed £24 for two hogsheads of “Aubryan wine” on November 19, 1669.[5]  This is, of course, the wine of Chateau Haut-Brion. The 19th century account of this bill was only brought back to contemporary attention by Asa Briggs in Haut-Brion (1994).

It turns out there is another 19th century account of the purchase of “Aubryan” which has been forgotten.  In 1669, Eton College purchased one hogshead also at £12.[6] This account was perhaps forgotten because the author confesses, “I am entirely in the dark as to Aubryan, Cawos, and Palm wine.  The first is low priced”.


[1] Robinson, Jancis. The Oxford Companion to Wine. 2015.

[2] Friday 10 April 1663. The Diary of Samuel Pepys. URL:

[3] John Pocock to James Hickes. October 19, 1668. Calendar of State Papers, domestic series, of the reign of Charles II, October 1668 to December 1669. 1894. URL:

[4] Thomas Holden to James Hickes. October 25, 1669. Calendar of State Papers, domestic series, of the reign of Charles II, October 1668 to December 1669. 1894. URL:

[5] Sussex Archaeological Collections Relating to the History and Antiquities of the County, Volume 15. 1863. URL:

[6] Rogers, James E. Thorold.  A History of Agriculture and Prices in England: 1583-1702.

“mellow Madeira Wine…from Calcutta”

James Madison loved Madeira above all other wines.  During February 1816, near the end of his second term as President, at a time when the end of the War of 1812 between Great Britain and America meant regular trade with the island of Madeira had resumed, James Madison corresponded within one week about two seperate orders of Madeira.

From Murdoch, Yuille, Wardrop, and Co. came two pipes of “finest, old wine” and from J. Howard March & Co. came one pipe of “the very best old Madeira Wine”.[1]  The timing of these orders meant they were both sent on the schooner Mary & Francis under command of Captain Nathaniel Cushing.

Invoice to James Madison for “Mellow Madeira”. LOC. [2]

The invoice from J. Howard March & Co. provides further description of the Madeira as “the best old Mellow Madeira Wine”.[2]  There are very few descriptions of the color, smell, and taste of Madeira wine from this period. This is a unique appearance of “mellow Madeira” in early American Madeira correspondence so it is important to investigate the meaning. [3]

In the late 18th century there are but a handful of examples of mellow wine in literature.  John Croft writes of “sound, old mellow Madeira” in 1783 when describing the American habit of storing wine in the attic.[4]  Duncan McBride notes that Spanish Sitges wine develops a “mellow taste” as it “advances in age”.[5]  A mellowing effect was known to take place on Madeira during the long, warm trip in the hold of an East India ship.[6]  It took decades before this term appears in use in America.

Advertisement for two half pipes of old Mellow Madeira Wine. [6]

James Madison’s particular order from J. Howard March & Co marks the first instance of mellow used to describe Madeira in America.  The schooner Mary & Francis carried other pipes of Madeira which were sold to the general public by at least two different merchants.  N & R Blacklock had two half-pipes of the mellow Madeira which are additionally described as “high flavor and full body”.[7]

Beginning in 1816, the term “mellow Madeira” appears in advertisements at various frequencies for the next three decades until oidium struck the island and devastated the vineyards.  “Mellow Wine” is also used in reference to Madeira.  Beginning in 1818, all of these advertisements bear a common thread, mellow Madeira first went to India or China before arriving in America.

Advertisement for mellow Madeira wine that first went to Calcutta. [7]

The earliest connection  appears in November 1818 in a sale of 20 pipes of “fine mellow Wine” at least 10 years of age.  This parcel was sent from America to Calcutta, upon the end of the War of 1812.  The pipes lay in Calcutta for several years until they were imported in the ship Eliza Ann.[87] Another example include two mellow pipes that were sold in 1834. For 20 years they lay in Calcutta before being imported into Boston. [9]  Four years later a pipe of “very rich flavored Old Mellow Madeira Wine” came by way of Canton. [10]

This raises the question of whether James Madison’s Madeira was mellowed by a trip to India or China.  His 1816 “mellow Madeira” pipe cost £75 not including freight.  This is a significant price increase over the £65 per pipe for “finest old Wine” ordered from Murdoch Yuille Wardrop & Co just one year earlier.[11]  This £10 per pipe increase can simply be attributed to Great Britain adopting the gold standard in 1816 and not for any additional premium on the wine itself.[12]  The freight charges are in the £3 range which is also nominal for a pipe which only traveled from Madeira to America.

While “mellow Madeira” first appears in James Madison’s correspondence of 1816 it is not until 1818 in America that it came to mean Madeira which first went to India or China.

[1] “To James Madison from Murdoch Yuille Wardrop and Company, 18 February 1816,” Founders Online, National Archives, last modified March 30, 2017, [This is anEarly Access documentfrom The Papers of James Madison. It is not an authoritative final version.]  and “To James Madison from J. Howard, & Co March, 22 February 1816,” Founders Online, National Archives, last modified March 30, 2017, [This is anEarly Access documentfrom The Papers of James Madison. It is not an authoritative final version.]

[2] J. H. March & Co to James Madison, February 22, 1816. Invoice-Order to Pay. Series: Series 1, General Correspondence, 1723-1859, Microfilm Reel: 17.
The James Madison Papers at the Library of Congress. URL:

[3] “[I]t will not be exceeded by an[y] Wine in the Universe”: Descriptions of James Madison’s Madeira. URL:

[4] Croft, John. A Treatise on the Wines of Portugal. 1788. URL:

[5] McBride, Duncan. General Instructions for the Choice of Wines and Spirituous Liquors (1793). Fascimile edition reissued by The Rare Wine Co. 1993.

[6] A Vindication of Gen. Richard Smith. 1783. URL:

[7] Date: Monday, June 17, 1816 Paper: Alexandria Herald (Alexandria, Virginia) Volume: VI Issue: 725 Page: 1

[8] Date: Monday, November 2, 1818 Paper: Boston Daily Advertiser (Boston, Massachusetts) Volume: XXIII Issue: 28 Page: 3

[9] Date: Friday, June 27, 1834 Paper: Boston Daily Advertiser (Boston, Massachusetts) Page: 3

[10] Date: Saturday, January 6, 1838 Paper: Newark Daily Advertiser (Newark, New Jersey) Page: 3

[11] “To James Madison from Anthony-Charles Cazenove, 4 July 1815,” Founders Online, National Archives, last modified March 30, 2017, [This is anEarly Access documentfrom The Papers of James Madison. It is not an authoritative final version.]

[12] See mention of 19% premium on the exchange rate. “To James Madison from Anthony-Charles Cazenove, 27 April 1816,” Founders Online, National Archives, last modified March 30, 2017, [This is anEarly Access documentfrom The Papers of James Madison. It is not an authoritative final version.]

“I intend, however, to have them examined”: George Washington’s 1785 Chateau Margaux

Extract from Fenwick Mason & Company to George Washington, August 10, 1790, with Invoice. [4]

During the summer of 1791, George Washington received two orders of claret from the firm of Fenwick, Mason & Co. in Bordeaux.  These orders are of interest because they shed light on the quality of the late 18th century Bordeaux vintages.  From these order we do not know what George Washington nor his secretary Tobias Lear thought of  an order of 1786 Chateau Lafite. Fortunately, the assessment of the 1785 Chateau Margaux is preserved.

George Washington’s first order of claret from Fenwick, Mason & Co. met with calamity.  Placed on August 16, 1789, George Washington requested 26 dozen bottles of claret and 26 dozen bottles of Champagne. [1]  As Bordeaux was not the best location to order Champagne, 12 dozen bottles of the sparkling wine were sent from Rheims and 12 dozen bottles of “vins de grave” would come from Bordeaux.[2]  That winter the wine departed for New York via the French packet Jean Jacques.  It was not until July 9, 1790, that George Washington was informed that his wine had not made it to New York, instead due to damage to the ship from the very cold weather, the ship put into Brest where the wine was unloaded.  The cases were split open and a quarter of the bottles were broken. [3]

Fenwick, Mason & Co. sought to have any remaining bottles in Brest sent on to George Washington.[4]  Sadly these bottles were not insured.  Until those wine could arrive, they sent a smaller order of the sames wines from Bordeaux.  It is in the invoice dated August 10, 1790, that we learn that the claret was the 1785 Chateau Margaux.

The smaller, replacement order of wine arrived by the end of June 1791.[5]  On July 7, 1791, Tobias Lear wrote Fenwick, Mason, & Co. noting the arrival of the wine in “good order”.[6]  He specifically wrote that the “claret of the first shipment” that being the 1785 Chateau Margaux, was “pronounced very good”.

[1] “From George Washington to Wakelin Welch & Son, 16 August 1789,” Founders Online, National Archives, last modified February 21, 2017, [Original source: The Papers of George Washington, Presidential Series, vol. 3, 15 June 1789–5 September 1789, ed. Dorothy Twohig. Charlottesville: University Press of Virginia, 1989, pp. 478–479.]

[2] “To George Washington from Fenwick, Mason, & Company, 5 December 1789,” Founders Online, National Archives, last modified February 21, 2017, [Original source: The Papers of George Washington, Presidential Series, vol. 4, 8 September 1789 – 15 January 1790, ed. Dorothy Twohig. Charlottesville: University Press of Virginia, 1993, p. 364.]

[3] “To George Washington from Fenwick, Mason, & Company, 9 July 1790,” Founders Online, National Archives, last modified February 21, 2017, [Original source: The Papers of George Washington, Presidential Series, vol. 6, 1 July 1790 – 30 November 1790, ed. Mark A. Mastromarino. Charlottesville: University Press of Virginia, 1996, pp. 38–40.]

[4] Fenwick Mason & Company to George Washington, August 10, 1790, with Invoice.  George Washington Papers at the Library of Congress, 1741-1799: Series 4. General Correspondence. 1697-1799.  URL:

[5] “To George Washington from Tobias Lear, 23 June 1791,” Founders Online, National Archives, last modified February 21, 2017, [Original source: The Papers of George Washington, Presidential Series, vol. 8, 22 March 1791 – 22 September 1791, ed. Mark A. Mastromarino. Charlottesville: University Press of Virginia, 1999, pp. 294–299.]

[6] Tobias Lear to Mason Fenwick & Co, July 7, 1791. George Washington Papers, Series 2, Letterbooks 1754-1799: Letterbook 23, Aug. 26, 1790 – March 25, 1793. URL:


George Washington’s Food Supply Ledger

January 20, 2017 Leave a comment
Invoice for 2 pipes of Madeira from John M. Pintard to George Washington, November 20, 1793. Library of Congress.

Invoice for 2 pipes of Madeira from John M. Pintard to George Washington, November 20, 1793. Library of Congress.

As today is the inauguration of the 45th President of the United States, I thought I would briefly focused on our first president George Washington.  George Washington’s Mount Vernon recently published a page from the Food Supply Ledger for the dates of May 19-25, 1794.  It is a fascinating, daily account with rows detailing the consumption of the Meats, Fish, Butter, Bread, Spices, Candles and of course Wines.

The wines are categorized as “Madeira”, “Claret”, “Champaign”, “Burgundy”, “Ven-de-Grave”, “Sauterne”, and “Sweet wine”.  On all but one day several bottles of Madeira were drunk.  In reviewing his wine orders it is possible to hazard a guess as to what type of Madeira was in those bottles.

The last Madeira order prior to May 1794, was acknowledged on November 20, 1793, when John Marsden Pintard, US Consul at Madeira, shipped “2 Pipes Old particular Madeira” at £38 Sterling each.  The pipes arrived via the sloop Lively at Philadelphia in January 1794.  We know from the Household Account Book that Joseph Sim was paid $484.59 for the two pipes on January 24, 1794.  The very next month on February 3, 1794, the final expense of $2 was paid for “putting in the Cellar”.

Madeira was classified according to quality with the best and most expensive being London Particular.  “Old particular” thus refers to London Particular most likely of two years of age.


“Sercial Sherman”: A look at the 1852 Sercial selected by General Sherman in 1871

January 12, 2017 Leave a comment

In December 1864, General William Tecumseh Sherman completed his “March to the Sea” which involved widespread devastation not just of military targets but also industrial and civilian property.  Having reached Savannah, Georgia, his troops turned towards the Carolinas with the intention of reaching Virginia.  Thus at the start of 1865, residents of Charleston, South Carolina took action as General Sherman’s army advanced.

Residents of Charleston were careful to hide and disperse their treasured Madeira collections to avoid consumption by General Sherman’s troops.  Bottles were hidden between rafters, demijohns were buried in the ground and for the South Carolina Jockey Club, the Madeira was hidden in the South Carolina State Hospital for the mentally ill.  The Jockey Club’s Madeira remained untouched but for some families their entire collection was lost.  One family sent eight wagon loads of Madeira nearly 200 miles from Charleston to Cheraw, near the North Carolina border.[1]  The Madeira was captured by General Frank P. Blair before it could be hidden.

General Blair served a few bottles of the captured Madeira to General Sherman who found them “very good”.  General Blair shared the story of its capture and eventually sent a dozen bottles “of the finest Madeira” General Sherman had ever tasted.  The rest of the Madeira was divided equally amongst the army.

Surviving stocks of 19th century American bottled Madeira are exceedingly rare.  It is ironic then, given the widespread disruption and consumption of Madeira by General Sherman’s army that one of his own bottles was served at The Sensational Sercial Tasting held last year.


Labeled “1852 Sercial Selected By General Sherman On his visit at Madeira, 1871” this bottle was part of a parcel of three bottles acquired by Roy Hersh, For the Love of Port.  The paper-wrapped bottles were purchased from a family on Long Island who had owned them for three decades.  Two of the bottles were labeled as Sercial and one Navy Reserve.  There is no known documentation for these bottles and outside General Sherman’s comments on General Blair’s captured Madeira, he himself wrote nothing else about specific bottles of Madeira.

It was at a dinner in August 1871, with Admiral James Alden and General William W. Belknap, that General Sherman made plans to visit Madeira.[2]  Admiral Alden had been promoted to rear admiral in command of the Mediterranean Squadron.  As General Sherman had never been to Europe he agreed to accompany Admiral Alden on his journey to Spain.  They were to first stop at Madeira.

Admiral Alden was to take the screw frigate Wabash as his flagship.  She was being overhauled at the time.  With repairs complete she left the Boston Navy Yard on November 17, 1871. Just a few weeks later she approached Funchal under steam on December 5, 1871.[3]

USS Wabash. c 1871-1873. Image from Naval History and Heritage Command.

USS Wabash. c 1871-1873. Image from Naval History and Heritage Command.

General Sherman wrote very little of wine during his life and little of the “Celebrated Madeira Wine” during his visit as he described it.  His only descriptions of wine relate to the “[b]light destroy the grapes” some 20 years earlier.  He described how “New Vineyards are beginning to reproduce the Same wine”.

He accompanied Admiral Alden on their very first visit ashore which was to a “Mr Walsh’s house”, the Admiral having known him in “former years”.  It is Mannie Berk, The Rare Wine Co., who first suggested that General Sherman perhaps visited Mr. Welsh of the Madeira shippers Welsh Brothers and that perhaps our bottle came from the Welsh’s.[4]

Prior to the Oidium, or blight that General Sherman wrote of, the Welsh Brothers were focused on “cheap light Madeira”.[5]  This succeeded in this business becoming the largest Madeira shipper by 1849.  By 1881, their focused changed to sending the “more costly growths” mostly in bottle to the United States.

That our bottle came from the Welsh’s is corroborated by an article published in Harper’s Magazine during 1919 by Major Charles Wellington Furlong.[6]  Major Furlong was an American explorer and writer who traveled around the world.  This particular article of his describes a hunting trip he took with Charles B. Cossart, Harry Hinton, and Mr. Welsh Jr on a deserted island off of Madeira.


On the last night of the hunt, the party celebrated with a meal of curried rabbit and goat-meat stew accompanied by a bottle of Madeira brought by Mr. Welsh Jr.  It was none other than “a bottle of Sercial wine of a vintage of seventy years.”  This dates the wine to 1849 which essentially matches the 1852 vintage of our bottle.  Mr. Welsh Jr. explained that wine was called “Sercial Sherman” because at Christmas time “General Sherman sent for four bottles, and since then his daughter has followed her father’s custom.”

It seems unequivocal that our 1852 General Sherman Sercial came from the Welsh Brothers.  It is also possible that the Madeira Wine Association (MWA), in part formed by Hinton and Welsh, marketed wine under the name “Sercial Sherman”.  Since this bottle is not labeled “Sercial Sherman” it is possible it was shipped during General Sherman’s lifetime which means it arrived in the United States between 1871 and 1891.

[1] Sherman, William Tecumseh.  “Memoirs of General William T. Sherman”, 1876.

[2] Ibid.

[3] General William Tecumseh Sherman to Thomas E. Sherman.  December 5, 1871. CSHR 9/59. Sherman Letters. University of Notre Dame. URL:

[4] See Mannie Berk’s background information on the wine in the Sensational Sercial tasting booklet. April 30, 2016.

[5] Vizetelly, Henry. Facts About Port and Madeira. 1880.

[6] Furlong, Major Charles Wellington. “Hunting With the Lords of the Dezertas” Harper’s Magazine, Volume 138. 1919.

The Sensational Sercial Dinner: 1875 through 2008

December 26, 2016 Leave a comment

I was careful to note I drank from a magnum of 1976 Lanson, Champagne and even took a picture of the bottle of 1996 Louis Roederer, Cristal Champagne and Jacque Selosse, V.O. Champagne Extra Brut. However, my tasting note for the 1998 Dom Perignon, Champagne “racy, yeasty, rich, mineral wine flavors” is unaccompanied by a picture. This might sound haphazard but Champagne is the first thing drunk after the all-day Sercial Madeira tasting. The need to refresh oneself with Champagne and talk to old friends leads to a sort of frenzy. Everyone jockeys for a pour of Champagne. It is not a time to take note.


Dinner is seated, at a very long table. The pace of wine is measured by the sommeliers who impose a logical order on what is drunk. Every guest is encouraged to bring a magnum of mature wine or preferably two bottles of the same. This is not always possible so there is a large variety of red wines. I take pictures and jot down brief impressions so I may recall the evening later on. There were only two off bottles this night the 1959 Joh. Jos. Prum, Wehlener Sonnenuhr, feine Auslese, Mosel-Saar-Ruwer and 1978 Heitz, Cabernet Sauvignon, Martha’s Vineyard, Napa Valley. In Germany 1959 is a legendary vintage and in America both Joh. Jos Prum and Heitz Martha’s Vineyard are legendary wines. In some punishing coincidence a friend brought a bottle of 1975 Martha’s Vineyard to my house this year. It was off too. Damn and double damn.

Of the good wines, they fell into two camps. Those which are too young to follow a tasting of 19th century Madeira and those which are appropriately mature. In this latter category two particular bottles stand out: 1966 Chateau Ducru-Beaucaillou, Saint-Julien and 1875 Isaias W. Hellman, Angelica Wine, Cucamonga Vineyard, San Bernadino County. The 1966 Ducru sports a fantastic nose. I find some old wines have a sweaty aspect to their nose almost like aromatic umami and this bottle did as well. The flavors were equally attractive with that sweet concentration of flavor from age. It does not just taste mature, it tastes different.

My experience with Californian wine only includes vintages into the 1960s. I can assure you the last wine I would have expected at dinner was not just a pre-Prohibition Californian wine but one from the 19th century. In a particularly unforgiving act of arson in 2005, some 4.5 million bottles of wine were destroyed including 175 bottles of Hellman Angelica and Port wine, certainly most of the remaining stock. I can only imagine a handful of bottles survive to this day. Now scarcity alone does not make for a fine wine, what is in the glass does.  With a bit of volatile acidity and dust on the nose the 1875 Hellman may have given slight pause but in the mouth this is an unctuous, powerful, and mouth coating wine.  I managed to prolong the pleasure for a few more weeks because I was allowed to take the empty bottle home.  There was still damp sediment in the bottle so I stoppered it.  Every few days I would smell the bottle to swim once again in 19th century aromas.


2002 Dauvissat, Chablis Grand Cru Le Clos
Imported by Vieux Vins. The yeasty nose makes way to minerally, white and yellow fruit flats. This seductive wine is rich with a hint of yeast, ripe tannins in the finish, and fat in the aftertaste.


2008 Domaine Coche-Dury, Meursault
Alcohol 12.5%. This is a fresh, lean wine that tastes yeasty and older in the mouth. IT leans towards pure lemon flavors.

2007 Domaine Coche-Dury, Meursault
Alcohol 12.5%. This is a grippy, concentrated wine with fresh acidity. A little weight comes out with air but this is all about lemon tartness. To match the flavor is a fair amount of acidity.


1959 Joh. Jos. Prum, Wehlener Sonnenuhr, feine Auslese, Mosel-Saar-Ruwer
Imported by O. W. Loeb & Co. Corked! D*mn!


1970 Domaine Dujac, Gevrey-Chambertin Aux Combottes
Imported by Frederick Wildman. Alcohol 13%. The dark, garnet color matches the rather mature nose. In the mouth this is a very dry wine with old perfume mixing with linear, red fruit, The structure is still there, out living the fruit, as this gentle, old wine dries up.


1967 Odero, Barolo
A Chambers Street Selection imported by T. Elenteny. The nose is a little stinky, which I find attractive, before aromas of candied cherry come out. This is old-school lively, with structure from the ripe tannins. Perfect for what it is.


1961 Burlotto, Castello di Verduno, Barolo
The foxy, earthy flavors come with initial concentration. It is a dry wine offering more flavor than the Oddero. Maturity has brought old-school flavors, a sweet aspect, and earth. It wraps up with drying, textured tannins.


1967 Cordezuma, Barolo
A Chambers Street Selection imported by T. Elenteny. The color is young, almost cranberry-ruby in color. In the mouth this is a simpler wine which is tart, citric, and bears less fruit.


1981 Lopez de Heredia, Vina Tondonia, Rioja
An odd wine with almost mushroom flavors, yeast, and floral pork (WTF!). The acidity is bound up with the modest bit of structure.


1990 Prunotto, Barbaresco Montestefano
Alcohol 13.5%. Tobacco. Young!


1995 Guigal, Cote-Rotie La Landonne
A Thomas Gruenig Selection imported by Torion Trading Ltd. Alcohol 13%. This is way too young. Structure, drying, and bracing at this point.


1995 Guigal, Cote-Rotie La Mouline
A Thomas Gruenig Selection imported by Torion Trading Ltd. Alcohol 13%. This is aromatic with a fine nose just beginning to take on mature aromas. In the mouth the red fruit is starting to soften a touch. Overall this is a focused wine with powerful structure through the fresh finish. Young.


1989 Chateau Ducru-Beaucaillou, Saint-Julien
Imported by Johnston. Alcohol 12.5%. The mature Bordeaux notes are starting to escape but this is still so young.


1989 Chateau Lynch Bages, Pauillac
Shipped by SDVF. Imported by South Wine & Spirits. Alcohol 12.5%. This is more open with cassis, minerals, and fat. Nice.


1966 Chateau Ducru-Beaucaillou, Saint-Julien
Shipped by Raoul Lucien & Co. Imported by Combeau-Collet & Cie. Alcohol 12%. The fantastic nose is aromatic and a touch sweaty with cranberries and red fruit. It develops some old-school perfume. In the mouth the flavors have some sweetness to them before the drying finish. A lovely wine at 50 years of age.


1966 Chateau Pichon-Longueville Baron, Pauillac
Shipped by A. de Luze & Fils. This is less giving, more linear, soon shutting down to simple, cranberry, and red fruit flavors. It is firm and tight in the mouth with a shorter finish.


1978 Heitz, Cabernet Sauvignon, Martha’s Vineyard, Napa Valley
An off bottle.

1992 Harlan Estate, Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley
Young and primary.


1937 Niepoort, Colheita Port
Imported by W. J. Deutsch Co. Alcohol 19%. There is a sweet start with flavors of black tea and wood. There is a fair amount of noticeable acidity before the slightly harsh finish.


1875 Isaias W. Hellman, Angelica Wine, Cucamonga Vineyard, San Bernadino County
Though there is some volatile acidity on the nose, it is fine and articulate, with a bit of dust matching its age. The fruit tastes so different. This is a powerful and lip coating wine which is still racy and sweet. The fruit persisted through the dark finish. With air this unctuous wine, with its plentiful residual sugar, builds glycerin and baking spices. In great shape!

Ricardo, the author, and Mannie

Ricardo, the author, and Mannie