Fine, Rare, and Capital Old Wine

“LOGIC, who was a dear lover of wine, tasted, tasted, and tasted so often, that he ultimately became non compos mentis, and required the assistance of a drag to convey him home to the Albany.”  From Pierce Egan Life in London (1821).

Tom, Jerry and Logic, "tasting" Wine in the Wood, at the London Docks. 1821. George Cruikshank. The British Museum.

Tom, Jerry and Logic, “tasting” Wine in the Wood, at the London Docks. 1821. George Cruikshank. The British Museum.

This blog features over 2,000 posts filled with tasting notes, research, and historic images. Due to the chronological nature of this blog and the developing need for recategorization, it is inevitable that posts, in effect, have become lost.  To combat such loss I already maintain a page dedicated to annotated descriptions of my history of wine posts.  A good portion of this blog contains tasting notes from which a smaller proportion are about the more interesting bottles I have drunk.  Therefore, with a strong nod towards age, these interesting posts are tagged as Rare Wine, Fine Wine, Mature Wine, and Old Wine.  This page will automatically display the 100 most recent of these posts.

  • A blind tasting of 2014 Bordeaux (4/14/2018) - Several weeks ago I was a guest of Phil’s tasting group for a blind event featuring featuring seven wines.  I will admit to being confused.  I thought some wines from Bolgheri, others certainly from Bordeaux, and I was sure one was Barbera! Six of the wines were Bordeaux and what I thought was Barbera turned […]
  • Bastardo & Mostcatel: the dinner wines 2011 – 1959 (1/22/2018) - After working through 20 different Madeira at Bastardo & Moscatel: The Tasting 1927 – 1830 it was time for the transition to dinner service.  As always there is an array of Champagne to work through. A pair old label and very tasty NV Krug, Champagne Brut Grand Cuvée, an oxidized 1985 Salon, Champagne Brut Le […]
  • Bastardo & Moscatel: The Tasting 1927 – 1830 (1/20/2018) - On April 22, 2017, I attended my third amazing Madeira event Bastardo & Moscatel – The Tasting in New York City. This was the sixth in a series of definitive annual Madeira tastings organized by Mannie Berk (The Rare Wine Co.) and Roy Hersh (For The Love of Port). Unlike the previous two events I have […]
  • Before, during, and after: other wines at the Madeira tasting (1/16/2018) - I have come to the carefully considered position that Champagne is required at a Madeira tasting.  The aroma of Madeira always fills the room but a glass of Champagne makes everyone jolly before sitting down.  A bottle served while service is performed on the second flight refreshes the palate.  Finally, a bottle at the end […]
  • An introductory Madeira tasting: 1971 Terrantez back to 1880 Malvasia (1/12/2018) - This past weekend I hosted a Madeira tasting in answer to requests I have received from my friends.  With a sizeable selection of wines made available to me by Mannie Berk, The Rare Wine Co., I settled in on what I consider an introductory tasting.  Over the course of 10 bottles I presented such wines […]
  • A half-bottle of 1977 Graham’s Vintage Port (1/2/2018) - The 1977 Graham’s, Vintage Port is the only Port we drank over the holidays.  In the half-bottle format the Port soon opens up to reveal itself as fully mature.  It is of moderate sweetness but the mixture of brown sugar, cloves, and cinnamon flavors add to the impression of being an end of evening drink. […]
  • Holiday Claret with Lou (1/1/2018) - Lou and I usually crack open a few bottles of claret around Christmas-time.  This year we settled on a trio of Chateau Gruaud-Larose sourced from that old DC cellar.   In lieu of a Champagne starter, we tried the 2016 Lise & Bertrand Jousset, Rose petillant cuvee Exile.  This is a surprisingly deep-flavored sparkling Gamay which is […]
  • Two particularly fine wines from 2017 (12/31/2017) - For my favorite wines of 2017 I chose two bottles that are of particularly fine flavor.  The first wine stood out during the Madeira at Liberty Hall tasting held by Mannie Berk on April 23, 2017.  It is the second time I have tasted an excellent Acciaioly Madeira.  The Acciaioly history is oft repeated being an old […]
  • Eric Ifune’s most interesting fortified wines of 2017 (12/26/2017) - Eric Ifune’s love of fortified wines once again comes through in his third annual post of his favorite wines of the year. Once again, I’m naming my most interesting fortified wines of this year, 2017. Not necessarily the best, but the most interesting. They are listed chronologically. Bastardo and Moscatel Madeira in New York 1875 […]
  • Merry Christmas Eve with old Louis M. Martini (12/24/2017) - Merry Christmas Eve! Comparisons are fun so at the start of my Christmas vacation I opened a pair of Louis M. Martini Cabernet Sauvignon from the 1977 vintage.  These wines would have been fermented in cement tanks then aged for two years in neutral wood.  At the end of the aging period all of the […]
  • Panos’ epic tasting of 16 vintages of Chateau Montrose: 2012 – 1970 (12/12/2017) - On January 24, 2017, Panos Kakaviatos (Wine Chronicles) hosted another epic Bordeaux tasting featuring the wines of Chateau Montrose.  Hervé Berland, CEO, graciously donated 15 vintages of wine with three guests donating the 1989 vintage thus presenting us with an array of 16 different wines spanning from 2012 back to 1970. The tasting itself was […]
  • A thorough introduction to Loire wines: 2011-1979 (12/8/2017) - Bill is passionate about Loire wines, top quality producers none the less, which was evident at a tasting he hosted at his house.  The wines largely came from his cellar making a parade of heavy hitters, cult favorites, and new discoveries.  As an introduction there were bottles of sparkling wine, white wine, red wine, and […]
  • An exploratory tasting of mature Nebbiolo 1975-1954 (12/1/2017) - A small group of us gathered to explore modestly priced old Nebbiolo of which little is known about the producers in general or the wines in specific.  This meant no Vallana and no Nervi, for example.  We selected 10 different red wines from 1975 back to 1954 but were sure to include flights from the […]
  • Two old Special Selection wines from California (11/21/2017) - One evening this summer, Mannie and I sat outside with our families for dinner.  The theme for the meal was old Californian wine, a favorite subject of mine, both historically and gustatory.  Our first bottle, the 1969 Louis M. Martini, Special Selection California Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon was produced by  Louis P. Martini who took over management […]
  • A tasting of 2013-1999 Guigal, Côte-Rôtie Le Château d’Ampuis (11/20/2017) - Blind tasting wine in a friendly group is great fun.  That is the ritual of the tasting group assembled this past weekend at Andy’s house.  I find the experience sharply exposes the limits of my experience, reaffirming thoughts on what I must taste next year. Before any deduction could began I took repeated small pours […]
  • A tasting of Rioja from the great 1964 Vintage (11/17/2017) - The 1964 vintage in Rioja, considered the greatest of the 20th century, was not met with any fanfare in America nor in England.  It was not because the top wines, only bottled in the 1970s and released as late as 1980, were unavailable to taste.  Throughout the 1960s Rioja was still viewed as the best […]
  • All about the mouthfeel: 1979 Produttori del Barbaresco, Barbaresco (11/10/2017) - I continue my all Italian wine week with a mature bottle of 1979 Produttori del Barbaresco, Barbaresco.  This basic bottling of Produttori is made from fruit sourced from top vineyards.  It was traditionally fashioned with long maceration (up to two months!) and long aging in large botti.  The winemaking has ensured that this is a […]
  • An epic Panos Bordeaux tasting: 16 vintages of Chateau Pichon Longueville Comtesse de Lalande 2016 – 1975 (11/3/2017) -   On October 18, 2017, Panos Kakaviatos (wine-chronicles) hosted a tasting of 16 vintages of Chateau Pichon Longueville Comtesse de Lalande from 2016 to 1975.  This tasting is the latest in a series of definitive events that Panos arranges for Washington, DC wine lovers.  Not only were all of the bottles direct from the chateau but […]
  • Mature Middle Mosel Riesling (10/24/2017) - A small number of old German wines recently hit the shelves of MacArthur Beverages.  The owner had passed away so the bottles were sold off.  As they were well-stored Phil picked them up and being of fine vintages, I bought a handful.  I tried two of the bottles from the middle Mosel the other evening […]
  • Legendary Rioja: CVNE Viña Real and Imperial Rioja Gran Reserva from 1976-1964 (10/23/2017) - Compañía Vinícola del Norte de España (CVNE), founded in 1879, is one of the oldest Rioja producers. For nearly one century CVNE has produced the top brands of Viña Real and Imperial. Over this period the wines developed the reputation as consistent  both in high-quality and long-life with the particular decades of the 1940s through […]
  • Delicious and historic, the 1974 Contino, Rioja Reserva (10/19/2017) - Compañía Vinícola del Norte de España (CVNE) has produced the legendary Viña Real since the 1920s.  CVNE was founded in 1879 by Eusebio and Raimundo Real de Asua and in the 1960s, 4th generation Jose Angel de Madrazo y Real de Asua became General Manager of Viña Real. Jose Madrazo responsibilities included purchasing additional fruit for […]
  • A Spanish dinner including a pair of 1970 Rioja (10/17/2017) - For our most recent wine dinner with Sudip we departed from 1970s Californian wines to those of Rioja.  As we were joined by Taz and his family we tasted through a few more bottles than normal.  Per usual, I provided the wines and Sudip cooked.  All of the bottles were sourced from The Rare Wine […]
  • Back to the golden-age: A tasting of Paul Jaboulet Aîné, Chateauneuf-du-Pape from 1990-1961 (9/29/2017) - Paul Jaboulet Aîné, founded in 1834, remains a major negociant to this day.  The Hermitage “La Chapelle” needs no introduction as it is still a benchmark for Northern Rhone wines. Today we would not include the Chateauneuf du Pape “Les Cèdres” as amongst the best of the region but it was in the 1960s and […]
  • Barolo from 1974 and Rioja from 1964 (8/18/2017) - Much of my time spent with Mannie Berk, The Rare Wine Co., involves work on projects related to the history of Madeira.  After one long day sorting through historic documents we discussed our findings over two bottles of wine. Terre del Barolo is a cooperative winery that was founded in 1958.  Located in the heart […]
  • I like my Sutter Home Zinfandel red and from the 1970s (8/2/2017) - Our dinners with Sudip have come to a reasonable arrangement for all.  The kids play for hours, Sudip provides the meal, and I provide the old wine.  Though purely by coincidence it is worth noting that Sudip has won handsomely at poker on days when his games begin or end on our dinner evenings. One […]
  • Lou guesses Italian, I guess Bordeaux (7/26/2017) - I went over to Lou’s house a few weeks ago.  We each brown bagged a few wines for each other to guess.  We only skirted with brilliance, informally I would say we are closer in guessing vintages than the regions the wine came from.  I brought the Rhone trio because negociants were still in their […]
  • Italian Barbera from 1964 to 2013 (6/8/2017) - The gray weather parted allowing a small group of us to taste through a range of Barbera on my back deck. Unspoken etiquette ensured we had bottles of Champagne and white wine to occupy ourselves as the bottles of Barbera were opened and I fussed with the grill. Both starter bottles were excellent. Having now […]
  • Mature white dinner wines in Seattle (5/31/2017) - On an increasingly sunny evening, over goat cheese, a dinner of ravioli with butter sauce, and a Cardamon infused cake, I enjoyed three bottles of wine white.  The wines were served by a new friend who inherited his interest in wine from his father.  It is for him that I opened the 1979 De Foreville […]
  • A saline 1990 Longue-Toque, Gigondas (5/18/2017) - I cut my teeth on Gigondas when it first came to bottles of mature Rhone wine.  Though I have since been seduced by the complexities of Chateauneuf du Pape, I still get excited by old bottles of Gigondas.  At the time of the 1990 vintage, Domaine de Longue-Toque was run by Serge Chapalain the son […]
  • A pair of 1977 wines from the historic Winery Lake Vineyard (5/9/2017) - I brought backup wines just in case my selections for our latest dinner with Sudip and Melanie were not drinkable.  Though my two old bottles had high fills, I had no idea what to expect of the 1977 Merlot and 1977 Pinot Noir from the Winery Lake Vineyard. Founded around 1960 by Rene di Rosa, Winery […]
  • 1980s Beaucastel and Burgundy at the Woodberry Kitchen (5/5/2017) - Darryl and Nancy organized a small wine dinner at the Woodberry Kitchen in order to partake in ramps and old Châteauneuf du Pape.  Roland, Richard, and I joined them one fine evening this week.  Fortunately we had extra bottles in tow for this evening was marked by an unfortunate series of off and underperforming bottles.  A […]
  • High-alcohol Verdelho, old Freisa, and older Napa Valley reds (5/3/2017) - The latest round of wines that Lou and I tasted presented a challenging start.  Perhaps only the Scholium Project would offer a high-alcohol Verdelho white wine and the 2010 Scholium Project, The Wisdom of Theuth, Lost Slough Vineyards certainly exists outside of my conventional experience.  I found an attractive blend of yeast, nuts, and lemon such that […]
  • Old-school 1979 De Forville Barbaresco (4/25/2017) - I opened the 1979 De Forville, Barbaresco on a whim when I found out a dinner guest at our house is another wine lover.  I picked up this bottle from Chambers Street Wine a year or two ago on the recommendation of Jamie.  De Forville is a 19th century estate which, according to the Wasserman’s, produced this […]
  • Fully mature 1982 Bodegas Beronia, Rioja Reserva (3/10/2017) - Bodegas Beronia was founded in 1973.  My particular bottle of  1982 Bodegas Beronia, Rioja Reserva was vintaged the same year González Byass bought the winery.  The estate is famous for their barrels made from American oak staves and French oak heads.  The fruit for this wine was sourced entirely from Rioja Alta, a higher altitude region that […]
  • A Blind Tasting of 2000 and 1996 Bordeaux with bottles of Dunn and Chave too (3/9/2017) - A few weeks back I was lucky to be a guest when Sotiris hosted his tasting group. We tasted seven wines blind of which one was a ringer.  Now I could not peg that we were tasting 2000 and 1996 Bordeaux but the 2001 Dunn, Cabernet Sauvignon, Howell Mountain, Napa Valley did stick out for it […]
  • Three Californian Wines from the 1970s (3/8/2017) - It took nearly one century for the wines of Mendocino County to become recognized for their quality. Grapes have grown in Mendocino County since at least 1880. The vineyards survived and perhaps even expanded during Prohibition as demand for home wine-making spread beyond San Francisco to the east coast. After Repeal grapes made their way […]
  • A very good mature Rioja from 1970 (3/6/2017) - There is one great source for traditional, old Rioja in America and that is Mannie Berk of The Rare Wine Co.  One of Mannie’s recommendations is the 1970 Bodegas Franco-Españolas, Rioja Bordon Cosecha Especial.  Bodegas Franco-Españolas dates back to 1901 when it was founded by Frederique Anglade.  The name reflects that fact that the operation […]
  • For drinking now, the 1974 Warre’s, Late Bottled Vintage (2/19/2017) - The 1974 Warre’s, Late Bottled Vintage is at a state where it drinks perfectly.  There are mature wine flavors, spices, and wood box delivered with a seductive round mouth feel.  The structure is fully resolved with enough acidity to leave a fresh impression.  In short, there is no reason to hold onto this Late Bottled Vintage […]
  • Tasted blind: 1991 Ridge Monte Bello, 1986 Phelps Backus, and 1984 Duckhorn (2/9/2017) - Last night Lou and I gathered to blindly taste through several bottles of Californian Cabernet Sauvignon.  For fun, we each unknowingly threw in an Australian blend of Shiraz-Cabernet Sauvignon.  Perhaps this is unfair given the stature of our main selections but it was for fun.  As we settled down to cheese, charcuterie, and cork removal […]
  • A balanced bottle of 1983 Gould Campbell (2/1/2017) - Just a quick post for today.  The 1983 Gould Campbell, Vintage Port is in fine shape.  It has shed any aggressiveness of youth and is now in that middle age of smoothness.  The primary blue fruit is surrounded by bottle aged flavor which last through the respectably long finish.   The sweetness is in balance making […]
  • Californian Pinot Noir and Barbera from 1977 (1/30/2017) - In the late 1970s, during the height of the American wine boom, Sebastiani was the volume leader in the wine production for Sonoma. Sebastiani was founded in 1904 by Samuele Sebastiani but it was his son August Sebastiani who saw the winery through Prohibition and the rise of the California wine industry.  Much of the production […]
  • A mix of vintages 82, 78, 69, and 62 (1/28/2017) - Over this winter I tried a few odd bottles of old Bordeaux, this post reflecting the lesser of them. The 1982 Chateau d’Issan, Margaux bore good fill and color but the corrosion on the capsule indicated a problem. Old seepage was confirmed by cutting the capsule but the wine itself was good shape, though fresh with […]
  • A dinner with John Junguenet and Mannie Berk (1/10/2017) - It was time for dinner following an afternoon spent on Madeira research with Mannie Berk, founder of The Rare Wine Co.  We made our way to the Common Lot in Millburn, New Jersey where we met up with John Junguenet.  If the Junguenet name sounds familiar that is because John is the son of Alain Junguenet who […]
  • A mystery bottle of 1970 Warre Vintage Port (1/9/2017) - There was a time when much of the Vintage Port sold at MacArthur Beverages was English bottled.  These wines were purchased by the case upon which the vintage and house were labeled.  But as Mark Wessels and Andy Creemer recently related, the bottles inside were unmarked.  Despite efforts to organize or tag the bottles, some […]
  • A holiday dinner with Amy and Barry (1/4/2017) - I recently met up with Amy Ray and Barry Wiggins for a holiday dinner.  It was a casual affair, seated at the corner of the bar of Restaurant Eve.  Amy and Barry are long-time fans of Chef Armstrong’s cooking and Todd Thrasher’s care of their wines.  While we limited ourselves to a handful of courses, […]
  • Lou’s Favorite Wines of 2016 (1/2/2017) - As Aaron and I drink many wines together, it’s inevitable that we have some shared wines on our top lists. The 1978 Diamond Creek Volcanic Hill was obviously California with rich fruit and concentration but balanced by forest floor and a balanced acidity. What was especially interesting for me with this wine was that it […]
  • My favorite wines of 2016 (12/31/2016) - It has been a busy year.  Not with wine drinking but with work, family, and the house.  I certainly spent a lot of time researching about the history of wine but this year my strong efforts in exploration produced less results.  As a result I published less historic pieces.  Still, it was a good year […]
  • Amy Ray’s favorite wines of 2016 tasted in America, France, and Italy (12/31/2016) - Amy Ray has a well “honed” (to borrow a general quote from Barry Wiggins) passion for Burgundy. Though I have known of her for some time we only met this year. In hanging out with her I have discovered she also loves the wines of Champagne, Piedmont, and perhaps most importantly, old Madeira. Amy’s love […]
  • Bill Moore’s favorite wines of the year (12/31/2016) - I continue the year end posts with Bill Moore’s most memorable pair of wines.  I am fortunate to have attended the same Beaucastel tasting.   I was lucky enough to enjoy a raft of wonderful wines in 2016, thanks in large part to the generosity of DC’s wine-loving community. Of the many tasted this past […]
  • Phil Bernsteins’ Top wines of 2016 (12/29/2016) - Phil Bernstein, who works at MacArthur Beverages, is literally within arms reach of amazing wines on a daily basis.  In this post he writes about two occassions where he tasted special wines from the 1978 and 1990 vintages. Aaron asked me to write up my favorites and 2016-and it’s a tough assignment as I’m lucky […]
  • Eric Ifune’s 2016 Fortified Wines of the Year (12/27/2016) - Eric Ifune returns this winter to describe his favorite fortified wines of 2016.  I first met Eric at the annual Madeira tastings organized by Roy Hersh (For The Love of Port) and Mannie Berk (The Rare Wine Co.).  As you can see in his post, Eric drinks some rather amazing and rare wines, so I […]
  • The Sensational Sercial Dinner: 1875 through 2008 (12/26/2016) - 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 […]
  • The Sensational Sercial Tasting 1875-1800 (12/23/2016) - On April 30, 2016, I attended The Sensation Sercial Tasting in New York City. This was the fifth in a series of definitive annual Madeira tastings organized by Mannie Berk (The Rare Wine Co.) and Roy Hersh (For The Love of Port).  It was only one year prior that I was fully immersed in the […]
  • Mature wines at an annual dinner (12/13/2016) - Lou and I gather the families every year for a pre-holiday dinner featuring mature wines.  This year we were joined by Darryl and Nancy for whom mature wine is a bit of an obsession.  To accompany the dinner of crab cakes, coq au vin blanc, and leg of lamb we had planned nothing more than opening […]
  • Outstanding Bottles of Giacosa and Conterno (12/2/2016) - At the end of October I was fortunate to attend an Italian tasting largely focused in on the wines of Bruno Giacosa and Giacomo Conterno.  No tasting of Barolo should be without a mature example and this one began with a very fine 1967 Giacomo Conterno, Barolo.  Double-decanted midday it continued to slowly develop in […]
  • A pair of 1978 Chateauneuf du Pape (11/30/2016) - Chateauneuf du Pape was long a favorite wine in America during the post World War II years.  As with several regions in France, the production of a lighter, earlier drinking style of wine also developed in Chateauneuf du Pape.  The perceived lessening of quality and rapid increase in price meant that the appeal of Chateauneuf […]
  • Eclectic by Any Measure, a Dinner with Mannie Berk (11/29/2016) - With Mannie Berk, The Rare Wine Co, in town for the Unveiling of the George Washington Special Reserve Madeira we decided to get together for a small dinner.  The theme was eclectic both in region and particularly in vintage.  I do not know if it is more interesting that there were wines from the 1930s, […]
  • 1977 Quarles Harris, Vintage Port (11/7/2016) - The leaves are falling and so are the temperatures.  This is perfect weather for a glass of Port at the end of an evening.  With an eye to drink beyond our typical 10 year old tawny favorites I started the season off with a bottle of 1977 Quarles Harris, Vintage Port.  Quarles Harris is a […]
  • A mature 2002 Bourgogne Blanc and a trio of 1979 Californian Cabernet Sauvignons (10/27/2016) - Lou likes to gamble on white Burgundy. This week he proved that a basic Bourgogne Blanc can develop with age.  Of course he hedged his bet.  Jean-Marc Boillot is the grandson of Etienne Sauzet and former winemaker at Olivier Leflaive. This combination of a well-respected producer and the outstanding 2002 vintage have produced what is […]
  • “C’est un produit d’une grande finesse”: The 1976 Ayala, Champagne Extra Quality Brut (10/26/2016) - The Ayala house has produced Champagne for over 150 years.  During its golden period of the 1920s it supplied the royal courts of England and Spain.  The Union of French Sommeliers soon took note.  When they visited the house in 1924, they described the Champagne as having “great finesse” as well as high cost.  Ayala […]
  • A Brace of Mature Californian Wine (10/3/2016) - This weekend I opened up two bottles of mature Californian wine for several friends and family.  The 1970 Charles Krug Winery, Cabernet Sauvignon, Vintage Selection, Napa Valley has a track record so outside of any unknown storage issues, I knew it would be a safe bet. On the other hand the 1975 Ernies Wine Cellars, Cabernet Sauvignon, […]
  • Mature wines from California and Bordeaux (9/22/2016) - Lou and I gathered last night to taste through five different bottles of mature Bordeaux and California wine.  Three of the wines turned out to be of interest.  The 1974 Louis Martini, California Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon falls into that category of mature, yet very stable, classic California profile.  It still has fruit, body, and some supporting […]
  • Lost Friday Lunch (9/15/2016) - For several years David Ehrlich has been organizing a series of weekday wine lunches.  Known as the Lost Lunch his idea is for a small group to enjoy a fine meal and an array of fine wines over the course of an entire afternoon.  Six of us recently gathered in the backroom of Black Salt where […]
  • A Bottle of Mature Brunello (9/8/2016) - It is a sad fact that I have not drunk much Brunello di Montalcino lately, let alone ever.  Lou corrected this aberration by bringing over an interesting bottle on Labor Day.  The Brunello DOCG was granted in 1980, making his bottle of 1981 Il Casello, Brunello di Montalcino an early example produced under the new rules. […]
  • An Ancient Pair of Chateauneuf du Pape from 1964 (8/30/2016) - Chateauneuf du Pape was a common post-war selection on restaurant wine lists and wine stores in America.  However, it fell out of favor in the 1970s due to significant price increases.  As late as 1980, Gary Gunther for The Washington Post cautioned that Southern Rhone wines needed to be considered against the “river of reliable, highly […]
  • Mature Champagne from a traditional Bristol merchant (8/8/2016) - Bristol, England is a major port that has a rich, long history of importing wine.  It is no surprise then that wine merchants founded centuries ago still exist today.  My familiarity with the wine merchant Avery’s of Bristol dates back to the eve of their 200th anniversary in 1993. For centuries past, wine was imported in barrel […]
  • A Rare Chateau de Beaucastel Vertical from 1964 to 2001 (8/3/2016) - When the end of Prohibition in America was in sight, the “potent” and “celebrated” wines of Chateauneuf du Pape were mentioned as amongst the “Legendary Potions” that the Europeans were waiting to ship to our shores.  Once the purchase of wines was legal The New York Times published a thorough description of international wines that Americans […]
  • A lovely 1964 Mommessin, Clos de Tart followed by other mature wines (6/14/2016) - No one could remember where the bottle of 1964 J. Mommessin, Clos de Tart came from.  It had been in the store for at least several years.  The label was in perfect shape but the ullage was 5cm down and the color was wearily light in the bottle.  I bought it anyways.  The 1964 vintage is […]
  • A classically mature 1985 Silver Oak, Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley (6/6/2016) - Silver Oak Cellars was founded in 1972 by Raymond Duncan and Justin Meyer, a former winemaker at Christian Brothers.  The pair focused in on pure Cabernet Sauvignon wines aged in American oak.  The goal was to have wine that was drinkable upon release but also capable of further aging.  Thus their 1972 Alexander Valley wine […]
  • A fresh 1976 Chateau de Beaucastel from one of the last vintage under Jacques Perrin (6/3/2016) - The oldest bottles that I have tasted of Chateauneuf du Pape date to the 1978 vintage with the oldest wine of Chateau de Beaucastel a more modest 1985.  As I will be out of town during an old Beaucastel tasting to be held this summer in Washington, DC, Darryl kind opened an old bottle of […]
  • Drinks from the holiday weekend (6/3/2016) - There was no shortage of grilled food and wine this Memorial Day weekend.  Thanks to many generous people I got to try decades worth of wine.  An inexpensive bottle of NV L.A. Cetto Vino Espumoso from Baja California enlivened a lunchtime sangria.   The first serious wine is a magnum of 2006 Macarico, Aglianico del Vulture which […]
  • A night of Sangiovese from young Napa to Chianti di Vecchia Annata (5/23/2016) - Lou and I gathered in his kitchen last week to drink through a range of Sangiovese based wines primarily focused in on Ruffino, Riserva Ducale.  We always start with a white wine but this time the bottle of 1999 Savary, Chablis Premier Cru Fourchaume was drinking too advanced.  A few sips were fine for curiosity but […]
  • A Diamond Creek vertical back to 1978 along with some other good bottles from the 1970s (5/13/2016) - This past Friday we gathered at my house to taste a vertical of seven Diamond Creek wines from 1994 back to 1978.  It is only natural to taste more wine than what we gathered for.  So with mixed results we tasted some aged bubbly while we waited for everyone to arrive.  We then sat down […]
  • From the Vintage of the Rocket to the Moon: 1959 Chateau Talbot (5/12/2016) - In this post Bill Moore kindly shares his experience with a pristine looking bottle of 1959 Chateau Talbot.  Georges Cordier, son of Desire Cordier who bought Chateau Gruaud-Larose, came into control of Chateau Talbot during 1919.  Chateau Talbot is a large estate located next to Chateau Gruaud-Larose.  The vineyards were, as they are now, planted […]
  • “I dream of wine every day”: A Madeira tasting to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the partnership between Mannie Berk and Ricardo Freitas (5/4/2016) - Twice last year I found myself in the company of Mannie Berk (The Rare Wine Company) and Ricardo Freitas (Vinhos Barbeito) tasting old Madeira dating back to the early 19th century. The first time was at The Majesty of Malvasia tasting held during the spring of 2015 in New York City. The second time was […]
  • Maryland’s Way: A dinner based on historic recipes (4/22/2016) - As follow up to our recent Picayune Creole Cook Book dinner, our second wine cookery dinner shifted focus north to Maryland.  For this dinner Sudip and I were joined in the kitchen by Lou.  Lou was raised in Maryland which imparted a strong affinity for the foods of the Chesapeake Bay as compared to my Virginia upbringing which […]
  • As thick as a phone book: my first trip to Bern’s Steak House (4/20/2016) - The TSA officer at the airport asked if I was escaping the Washington, DC rain for the warmth of Florida.  No, I replied, I am going down to drink wine with my friend.  With the officer perplexed I explained that Bern’s Steak House was my destination.  A woman in the security line chimed up, Bern’s […]
  • An amazing tasting of 2003 Chateauneuf du Pape including Rayas and Bonneau (3/26/2016) - Due to the generosity of Roland and Andy, I have now tasted two bottles each from the legendary estates of Chateau Rayas and Henri Bonneau.   This double-barreled set of names should give you an indication of the type of wine these guys like to drink.  I first met them several years ago as a […]
  • The Heart’s Delight lunch with the Ambassador of France, Gérard Araud and Herve Berland of Chateau Montrose (3/16/2016) - The French Ambassador’s residence is located in Kalorama just off of Connecticut Avenue in Washington, DC.  Completed over one century ago, this grand Tudor Revival building was purchased by the French in the 1930s.  Following the completion of a recent renovation, this house has resumed its social role in the city.  Last week it was the […]
  • A casual tasting from a 1975 Spanna to a 2012 Favorita (3/15/2016) - A last minute offering to host some friends at the house resulted in four of us tasting through some excellent wines.  With a little bit of back and forth Lou, David, and Bill settled down in my living room with variety as our theme.  We began with a Piedmontese white wine which is something I […]
  • A few mature French wines (2/29/2016) - I was to bring a bottle of 1982 Chateau Calon-Segur, St Estephe over to Lou’s house. The first was, perhaps, drinkable to some extent.  It was not by the time I arrived at Lou’s house.  The second bottle bore absolutely no relationship to wine so down the drain it went.  Both of these bottles were […]
  • “Customary Before Prohibition”: Moving back in time with food and drink through the Picayune Creole Cook Book (2/19/2016) - As I have previously described in my wine cookery posts the post-Prohibition years in America saw the rise of recipes where wine is an ingredient.  These recipes appeared in both newspaper articles and cook books.  There were indeed several books dedicated solely to wine cookery but other well-established cook books were updated to include sections or […]
  • A snow day with the 1981 Antichi Vigneti di Cantalupo, Ghemme (1/28/2016) - The snow days full of shoveling and sledding left me worn out by the end.  I have mostly drunk inexpensive wines as a result, not wanting to waste anything.  I did manage to open one nice wine.  The 1981 Antichi Vigneti di Cantalupo, Ghemme is produced mostly from Spanna which is the local name for Nebbiolo.  Ghemme, […]
  • A tasting of Chateau Cos D’Estournel from 2012 back to 1982 (1/25/2016) - On Monday January 18, Panos Kakaviatos (Wine Chronicles) gathered together a group of DC wine lovers for his annual Bordeaux dinner.  As in previous years he invited a guest from the Chateaux and had a vertical representation of multiple vintages.  Also, like in previous years, he did an impeccable job of working with the restaurant staff […]
  • The savory 1988 Chateau Meyney (1/21/2016) - In the recent past the 1988 Chateau Meyney, Saint-Estephe would have been one of the oldest wines in my basement.  As such, I carefully saved this final bottle.  Last tasted seven years ago I found it oscillated between shut-down and open states. Today it is a fully open wine which is comforting on the nose and rather […]
  • “a classic cabernet with great potential”: Tasting mature Californian wines by the fireplace (1/20/2016) - A last minute effort to host a casual wine tasting over the holiday weekend did not turn up any remarkable numbers. Instead, Lou and I relaxed by the fire in my living room to be eventually joined by Jenn. The 1989 Stony Hill, Chardonnay, Napa Valley is a recent purchase from The Rare Wine Company. With […]
  • 1983 Offley Boa Vista (1/14/2016) - After enjoying a particularly fresh bottle of 1966 Offley Boa Vista, Vintage Port I decided to follow up with the 1983 Offley Boa Vista, Vintage Port.  Drunk over an entire week this bottle bore similar marshmallow flavors.  While it did not have the balance or youthfulness of the 1966 vintage, the aromas of leather and […]
  • Three holiday wines (1/4/2016) - The three wines in today posts were all drunk right around Christmas.  I diligently photographed the bottles and had every intent to publish this post a week ago.  But one thing led to another, playing Harry Potter Wizard Chess with my daughter, difficulties learning some visualization software for a historic post, and much time spent […]
  • From mature Aubert to old Mongeard-Mugneret, an annual holiday dinner with Lou (12/21/2015) - Lou and I gathered with our wives last week for our annual pre-Christmas dinner.  We started in the living room drinking Champagne and eating a crab dip based on a recipe Lou grew up with as a child.  The NV The Rare Wine Co, Les Mesnil, Blanc de Blancs, Grand Cru Champagne was our young bottle. […]
  • A blind tasting of super Tuscans from the 2000 vintage (12/17/2015) - Last week I also found maturity and pleasure in a recent vintage.  I was the guest of David for his turn of hosting his tasting group.  We gathered in his living room to first eat cheese and drink 2013 G de Guiraud, Bordeaux Blanc Sec while we waited for the others to arrive.  My familiarity with […]
  • “Legendary Potions”: An old wine dinner back to 1929 (12/16/2015) - Mature vintages are a normal part of any discussion with Darryl and Nancy.   However, when it came to selecting our wines for a recent dinner, they led off deep with a double salvo of vintages from 1929 and 1931.  This soon led everyone else to offer up bottles from the 1930s, 1940s, 1950s, 1960s, […]
  • “Sturdy and Deep-Flavored”: Wines from our Thanksgiving weekend (11/30/2015) - For the past several years I have taken the effort to drink American wine for the Thanksgiving holiday.  While I largely kept to that theme this year, I did kick things off with a bottle of Spanish Cava.  I did so because the earliest Thanksgiving memories of my mother are from Spain.  She spent her […]
  • “Freakishly” good bottles of Chateau des Tours (11/20/2015) - Produced by various members of the Reynaud family, the wines of Chateau Rayas in Chateauneuf du Pape achieved legendary status amongst lovers of Rhone wines. Indeed, the 2005 Chateau Rayas which Roland opened for me last year, remains one of the best Rhone wines I have ever drunk.  Perhaps more important than the sheer quality is […]
  • From young Boillot to old Giscours, La Mission Haut Brion, and Montrose (11/2/2015) - Drinking old Bordeaux from the 1950s, 1960s, and 1970s is a complex game for you cannot predict the quality of the wine based on vintage and chateau alone.  This period saw not only significant changes in technology but estates also changed ownership with vineyards subsequently reconstructed and replanted.  As a result, I find reading about the […]
  • A closer look at two different bottlings of 1811 Malvasia Candida (10/27/2015) - The 1811 vintage in Madeira was harvested during the second occupation of the island by the British during the Napoleonic wars.  The War of 1812, between the Great Britain and America, meant that regular supplies of Madeira to America were soon disrupted.  While the 1811 vintage may not have arrived in a timely manner, it eventually did, […]
  • From the Comet Vintage through the Victory Vintage: A casual fine wine dinner with Mannie Berk and Ricardo Freitas (10/21/2015) - Last week started off strong as I attended A Blast from the Past: Madeira Extravaganza in DC which celebrated 20 years of collaboration between Mannie Berk (Rare Wine Co.) and Ricardo Freitas (Vinhos Barbeito).  The week ended in Philadelphia where I gave a talk about Henry Hill and Madeira.  It turns out that the week was steeped […]
  • The aromatically complex 1979 Chateau Palmer, Margaux (10/19/2015) - The mature wines of Chateau Palmer have given me great delight over this past year.  A bottle of 1979 Chateau Palmer, Margaux tried at our last house is just one example.  Unfortunately, I cannot find the empty, packed away bottle so I have included a picture of another bottle purchased at the same time.  The 1979 […]
  • The classic and timeless 1975 Bodegas Riojanas, Monte Real, Rioja Reserva (10/14/2015) - I am neck deep in wine research and as of this week, fortunate to have again drunk centuries worth of old wine.  As as proxy to all of this archival and liquid history I am publishing my tasting note for the 1975 Bodegas Riojanas, Monte Real, Rioja Reserva.  Jenn and I drank this bottle a […]
  • The declining 1975 Chateau Fourcas-Hosten, Listrac (10/13/2015) - The 18th century estate of Chateau Fourcas-Hosten was acquired by a syndicate in 1971.  The previous owners left unsold vintages in casks in case there were any bulk orders in the future.  Unfortunately, this meant that quantities of 1966 had yet to be bottled when the syndicate took possession in 1972.  Thus the 1970s represent […]
  • A dinner party with old wine (9/22/2015) - This past weekend Lou and I went to a fun dinner party where we ate heaps of meat and drank some old wine.  Lou’s friend Todd spearheaded the food side of things and Lisa offered up her place.  This meant that Lou and I selected the wines.  We started with a very fresh tasting 2008 […]
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