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 1,750 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.

  • 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 […]
  • Loose, solid, and crumbling corks from a trio of red wines from the 1970s (9/8/2015) - This holiday weekend I found myself in Lou’s tasting room.  The cellar itself might seem like the place to be with the crunch of the pea gravel and the smell of maturing bottles but the tasting room is the practical choice.  It has the leather chairs and side board.  Out of necessity the first bottle opened was […]
  • Incredible bottles of old Burgundy (9/5/2015) - When Lou and I decided to tuck into some old red Burgundy we stood up multiple bottles fully expecting a few to be undrinkable.  We started with a single bottle of white as we snacked on cheese and charcuterie.  The 1988 Louis Jadot, Chevalier-Montrachet Les Demoiselles Grand Cru was interesting enough with its apple-orchard oxidized profile but […]
  • “Picked before the rain”: the 1964 Chateau Montrose, Saint-Estephe (9/3/2015) - During the summer I particularly enjoyed a lower-fill bottle of 1964 Chateau Montrose, Saint-Estephe.  Of the vintage, I only knew it did not share the hype of 1961 and 1962.  However, given the robustness of these old traditional vintages of Chateau Montrose I simply remained pleased.  It turns out that this was a good bottle […]
  •  “For Summer Houses, Yachts, and Camps”: An old bottle of the classic Pommery Drapeau Americain Sec (8/5/2015) - The mysteriously old bottle of Pommery Champagne stood neck-deep in ice water, its dark glass yielding no clues about the wine inside.  After it had chilled down, Mannie Berk met us outside with glasses containing a most attractive dark-apricot colored wine.  There were even little suspended bits of red-brown sediment.   A deep sniff of the […]
  • “The champagne will be Pommery; the gowns and perfume by Lanvin-Castillo”: My first experience with old Champagne (7/29/2015) - I can now count the number of times I have tasted truly old Champagne on three fingers.  The last two experiences, courtesy of Mannie Berk, proved engaging but the first was dreadful.  That I saved the first bottle for all of these years is due to the scarcity of old Champagne in Washington, DC.  Though the […]
  • A Rhone wine tasting: 1985, 1990, and 2000 Chateau de Beaucastel (7/28/2015) - When the fruit was harvested for the 1985 vintage, the wines of Chateauneuf du Pape were only regaining popularity in America.  Just 15 years earlier these wines had been wildly popular but a rise in price and a drop in quality caused attention to drift elsewhere.  This drop in quality reflected a change “to suit […]
  • A Rhone wine tasting: the northern wines (7/23/2015) - This past weekend a group of us gathered in my living room for a hastily planned tasting of mature Rhone wines.  The motivation for the tasting came from an exchange with Jess Hagadorn (Young Winos of DC) where we quickly found a mutual love of Rhone wines.  Sometimes a last minute arrangement works well and in this […]
  • Vinified at Chateau Lynch-Bages, the 1970 Chateau Les Ormes de Pez, Saint-Estephe (7/22/2015) - Both Chateau Les Ormes de Pez and Chateau Lynch-Bages were acquired by the Cazes family in the 1930s.  Though Chateau Les Ormes de Pez is only a bourgeois estate, it received careful attention for decades such that David Peppercorn comments that it “is one of the most consistent and enjoyable cru bourgeois of St Estephe”.   This […]
  • A 1978 dinner with wines from the Rhone and Bordeaux (7/21/2015) - It was just several weeks ago that Darryl commented on an odd bottle of 1978 Chateau Mont-Redon, Chateauneuf du Pape.  Darryl had served it at a tasting full of Rhone wine lovers.  I did not attend the Rhone dinner but David did and he too felt something was amiss.  Both Darryl and David felt that this bottle […]
  • From “one of the most interesting and controversial vintages”: 1959 Chateau Montrose, Saint-Estephe (7/20/2015) - When I attended Bristol University in the early 1990s, it was the 1961 Bordeaux vintage that we discussed with desire.  There was no mention of 1962, 1964, nor 1966 and certainly no mention of the vintages from the 1950s.  The handful of old bottles we drank came from Reid Wines of Bristol.  In their Winter […]
  • The 1998 Chapoutier, Hermitage La Sizeranne will be long lived (7/16/2015) - There has been no shortage of interesting wines to taste lately.  Most recently, the 1998 Chapoutier, Hermitage La Sizeranne brought back memories of attending a tasting tutored by Michel Chapoutier that was held in conjunction with Bacchus Importers. The care of his vineyard soils is of utmost importance and caused him to work all of his vineyards biodynamically […]
  • A soft, low-fill 1975 Chateau Léoville Barton (7/13/2015) - The 1975 Chateau Léoville Barton was produced by Ronald Barton, the great-great grandson of Hugh Barton who took an active interest in the family wine business in the late 18th century.  Ronald Barton served with the Free French during World War 2.  After the war, he returned to Chateau Léoville Barton to find the vineyard in […]
  • 1982 Chateau Prieuré-Lichine still has attractive fruit (7/10/2015) - Alexis Lichine was a Russian born wine writer, salesman, and producer who played an important part in the expansion of the wine market in the United States.  In the 1930s, he was hired by Frank Schoonmaker and together, they promoted the selling of Californian wines by varietal.  After World War 2, Alexis Lichine left Frank […]
  • Tasting a trio of old wines with Lou (7/8/2015) - 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 […]
  • Drinking perfectly: 1985 Chateau de Beaucastel, Chateauneuf du Pape (7/7/2015) - There was no choice required when I recently saw the bottles of  1985 Chateau de Beaucastel, Chateauneuf du Pape at MacArthur Beverages.  Though I had no experience with this vintage I had drunk a glorious 1990 vintage just a few months prior.  That was enough of a personal metric so I grabbed the wines without fear.  Indeed, Robert Mayberry described […]
  • “[N]ot to be pursued”: 1975 Chateau Pichon-Longueville Baron (7/7/2015) - Earlier this year I attended an Annual Bordeaux Dinner where the focus was on the wines of Chateau Pichon-Longueville Baron.  Tutored by Jean-Rene Matignon, technical director, we tasted 13 vintages back to 1989.  It was in 1987 that the Bouteiller family sold the estate to AXA Insurance so all of the wines served were made […]
  • Notes from two difference bottles of 1966 Chateau Montrose, Saint-Estephe (7/6/2015) - There was little mention of the 1966 Bordeaux vintage upon harvest in the American press.  Whereas Cyril Ray was reporting in The Guardian during January 1967, that the Cordier wines of Talbot and Gruauad-Larose were “deep in colour”, there appear to be no similar ongoing coverage in American newspapers.[1]  The 1966 Bordeaux vintage began hitting the American shelves […]
  • Allemand, Dauvissat, Jamet, and more to welcome Jeffrey Snow (7/2/2015) - Jeffrey Snow previously worked for Bacchus Importers then moved to France to enroll in wine studies.  He was in town this past weekend for a brief visit so a group of his wine buddies got together.  As Jeffrey still lives overseas I offered to host the gathering.  Despite the heavy cloudiness the skies held back […]
  • A surprising 1980 Burgundy from Domaine Robert Chevillon (6/30/2015) - Yesterday I found myself at MacArthur Beverages going through the latest tranche of old wines.  Lyle Railsback, who works sales for Kermit Lynch, was in town showing the wines of Domaine de Chérisey.  He became excited when he spotted the bottle of 1980 Domaine Robert Chevillon, Nuits-Saint-Georges 1er Cru Les Perrières in my cart.  Unfortunately, it was […]
  • The Majesty of Malvasia Dinner: Tasting vintages from 1926 through 2002 (6/29/2015) - It took quite some time for the 20 bottles of Madeira to be equally poured into some 400 wine glasses.  With each pour the room became incrementally more aromatic until everyone was collectively talking about the beautiful aromas.  The doors to our private room were even shut at one point so as to infuse all of […]
  • “[W]hen of the best kind, a most delicious wine.” An historic 19th century Malvasia Madeira tasting (6/26/2015) - On April 11, 2015, I attended The Majesty of Malvasia Tasting in New York City.  This was the fourth in a series of definitive annual Madeira tastings organized by Mannie Berk (The Rare Wine Co.) and Roy Hersh (For The Love of Port).  In the post “Very rich and old”: Malmsey in America at the turn […]
  • An aromatic bottle of 1975 Chateau Gruaud-Larose (6/8/2015) - Chateau Gruaud-Larose is one of several estates in the Domaines Cordier portfolio.  While the Gruaud-Larose estate itself dates back to the 18th century, it was not until the 1930s when it was fully acquired by the Cordier family.  The estate encompasses some 150 hectares of which more than half are planted with vines.  By the […]
  • Tasting more mature wine with Lou including 1970 Chateau Ducru-Beaucaillou (5/28/2015) - One great aspect of now living near Lou is that I can just pop over for a drink.  Which is exactly what I did yesterday after work.  Lou suggested a random selection so I had stood up a random bottle of the 1970 Chateau Ducru-Beaucaillou, Saint-Julien midday. I opened the bottle at Lou’s house, successfully removing […]
  • Wines from Memorial Day weekend: 40+ year old Bordeaux and 10 year old Chateauneuf du Pape (5/27/2015) - 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, […]
  • Traditional wines from Cavallotto, Produttori del Barbaresco, and Selbach-Oster (2/19/2015) - This past Friday I found myself as Phil’s guest at his monthly wine-tasting group.  We sipped on the perfectly agreeable NV Jean Richecourt, Cuvee Speciale, Brut, Champagne as we waited for everyone to show up.  I found the citrus flavors and gentle effervescence whet my appetite for some serious wine.  The tasting of the red wines […]
  • Old-vine wine and simply old wine with Roy Hersh (1/26/2015) - I met up with Roy Hersh (For the Love of Port) during my most recent trip to Seattle.  That this was our first time meeting, despite all of my trips to Seattle, is in retrospect a shame on my part but we now have the future ahead.  As it was my first night in town we […]
  • Annual Bordeaux Dinner: Chateau Pichon-Longueville Baron (1/23/2015) - Earlier this week I had the privilege to attend the annual Bordeaux dinner hosted by Panos Kakaviatos (Wine Chronicles) at the restaurant Ripple.  For this year the focus was on the wines of Chateau Pichon-Longueville Baron.  To complement the 13-vintage vertical of wines we were joined by Jean-Rene Matignon.  Jean-Rene Matignon has been technical director at […]
  • Tasting 2001-2011 vintages of Descendientes de J. Palacios in Bierzo (1/16/2015) - It is easy to taste more wine and research more subjects than I can write about.  These notes from a fall tasting of wine from Descendientes de J. Palacios prove that point.  The Palacios wines all came from a single cellar purchased last year by MacArthur Beverages.  The owner bought them direct from the Rare […]
  • Four old Ridge wines from 1976 – 1982 (1/5/2015) - I may not have met my goal of finishing up posts about several major tastings from last year but I am writing about the very first tasting of this new year which occurred last night at Lou’s house.  Lou bought a series of old Ridge wines last year from which he selected two pairs to […]
  • Mature Chapoutier and Turley with young Dirty & Rowdy (12/23/2014) - A recent evening tasting wine with Lou proved to be rather interesting. I do not recall ever tasting Hermitage blanc so I was completely surprised that the 2000 Chapoutier, Chante-Alouette, Hermitage Blanc continued to develop the entire evening.  While it was always balanced it became more expressive on the nose and in the mouth.  I usually […]
  • Memorial Day Pig Roast at Roland’s (5/30/2014) - It was nearly five hours after Roland’s Memorial Day pig roast had started that I texted him asking if people were still there.  I had seen the pictures he submitted earlier on Facebook, which he let me post here, and was curious if both pig and wine were still around.  They were. I promptly walked over to […]
  • An Evening of Chambolle-Musigny, Vosne-Romanee, and one Gevrey-Chambertin (5/19/2014) - I was very lucky to be Roland’s guest when he recently hosted his wine tasting group.  As always, the host picks the wines which are tasted blind, as well as cooks dinner.  We gathered around at first, eating charcuterie and cheese which was accompanied by an excellent 2012 Willi Schaefer, Himmelreich GG, Mosel Saar Ruwer. […]
  • From 1971 Barisone, Barolo to a 2012 Italian Red Auslese: An Italian Themed Tasting with Lou (4/25/2014) - Lou and I recently got together in his tasting room to continue exploring older wines.  The theme was Italian wine so we naturally started with the 2008 Weingut Ratzenburger, Steeger St. Jost, Riesling Spatlese Trocken from Germany.  The fruit for this wine was sourced from the steep Steeger St. Jost vineyard which is located on […]
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