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Robin Garr

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WineAdvisor: Oldest wine you've ever tasted

by Robin Garr » Wed Mar 29, 2006 12:15 pm

Really, really old wine

What's the oldest wine you've ever tasted? There's something rare and exciting about opening an exceptionally old bottle that makes any wine occasion special, and one litmus test that defines a dedicated "wine geek" is to ask whether he's ever enjoyed a wine older than he is.

Ancient wines can offer an ethereal experience, developing subtle and elusive flavors that can be almost impossible to describe; and of course, in an all-too-obvious metaphor for life, the most ageworthy collectibles seem to gain richness and complexity with age ... but then they turn frail and weak and eventually they die.

Most of us get to taste very old wines so rarely that we vividly remember them, and they tend to come out for special occasions when good friends gather. I still count among my most enduring wine memories a few ancient bottles and the friends I shared them with: A 1942 Vega Sicilia enjoyed with wine-forum pals in Madrid; a 1947 Seppelt Para Port shared with other friends in Sydney. The 1948 Niepoort Port opened with a small group of friends on the eve of the Millennium, and an amazing wine-forum tasting in 1993 that featured more than a dozen Chateau Palmer Margaux from 1921 through 1989. Memories are made of this, or wine memories are, anyway.

Speaking of really old wines, Parisian François Andouze, a participant in our WineLovers Discussion Group, is a dedicated collector of old wines, which he frequently enjoys with fellow enthusiasts who gather for old-wine dinners, paying their way by their own older bottles to share. You might enjoy his detailed report on one such event in this recent forum post.

Tell us about the very old wines you've enjoyed! I've set up a simple online poll in our Netscape WineLovers Community. You can vote in the poll and view the tally without registration, although of course you're welcome to hang around and add your comments. Here's the ballot.
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Peter Ruhrberg

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Re: WineAdvisor: Oldest wine you've ever tasted

by Peter Ruhrberg » Wed Mar 29, 2006 12:59 pm

1792 - not much happened then....

Peter
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Re: WineAdvisor: Oldest wine you've ever tasted

by Robin Garr » Wed Mar 29, 2006 1:34 pm

Peter Ruhrberg wrote:1792 - not much happened then....


Whoa, that's ancient! Care to tell us more about it, Peter?
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Michael Grossman

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Oldest Wine

by Michael Grossman » Wed Mar 29, 2006 2:45 pm

As of today the oldest for me is a 1929 Pommard Epenots that I brought to a New Year's Eve party in 1991. A truly amazing experience. Contrary to what I had expected, upon opening we all experienced a lovely Burgundy perfume fill the air. The wine was brilliant and perfectly in balance.

That bottle was part of a small parcel of the Barolet Docteur collection that I had aquired in the 1970s. Now here is the reason I said "as of today". Last week while working on an inventory of my wine that is in lockers in a wine storage facility, I ran across a box that had four bottles from that collection that I had completely forgotten, misplaced or failed to properly inventory.
1952 Morey St. Denis; 1954 Chambolle Musigny; 1933 Chambolle Musigny and 1926 Beaune.

Good friends who are superb cooks and wine lovers are preparing dinner for my wife and I and friends this Saturday and we are going to have the two Chambolles and the Beaune. I am, of course, quite concerned that I allowed these wines to sit far too long even though they have been stored in ideal conditions. It is going to be an interesting experience. The '26 Beaune will be the oldest wine I have had.......if it is still wine.

Of course we will bring back up bottles in which I have more confidence.
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by Otto » Wed Mar 29, 2006 3:12 pm

Oldest immortal (i.e. Madeira) was the 1834 Barbeito Malvazia.

Oldest mortal sweetie was a port from 1896. All traces of what it was were apparently degraded, so I have no idea what it could have been. It was dead anyway.

Oldest dry wine: 1924 Chateau du Tertre. Also dead. But it was a very cheap buy. Tasted like top quality balsamico - and considering how expensive that is and how many great salad dressings our tasting group got from the wine, it was positively cheap :wink:

Oldest dry wine which was living and drunk with pleasure: Louis Poirier Pommard Les Grands Epenots 1937.
I don't drink wine because of religious reasons ... only for other reasons.
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François Audouze

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by François Audouze » Wed Mar 29, 2006 6:44 pm

1926 is a very good year.
You should enjoy a lot the Beaune.
Be careful to give it enough oxygen but do not decant. Just open it some hours before and let it stand, open.

Here are some 1926 Burgundies that I have drunk :

Chambolle-Musigny Labourée Roi - 1926
Savigny Chanson Père et fils - 1926
Nuits Saint Georges Ligeret - 1926 #
Savigny Chanson Père & Fils - 1926
Nuits Saint Georges les Vaucrains Michelot Prop. - 1926
Savigny lès Beaune Chanson Père et fils - 1926
Pommard Grands Epenots Michel Gaunoux - 1926
Pommard Epenots Colomb Maréchal - 1926
Bâtard Montrachet Pierre André - 1926
Romanée Saint Vivant Charles Noëllat - 1926
Volnay Coron Père et Fils - 1926
Volnay Coron Père et Fils - 1926

Some of them have been purely amazing, specially the Pommards.
Old wines are younger than what is generally considered
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OW Holmes

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by OW Holmes » Wed Mar 29, 2006 6:58 pm

Our oldest was an 1875 Barbieto Malvazia - a youngster compared to Otto's. It capped a perfectly delightful evening that started with Dom 1996 and six different caviars, followed by a Syrah tasting which featered Syrah from three regions - Northern Rhone (Chave Hermitage), Southern Rhone (Chateauneuf du Pape) and California (I forget which) but in each case, for each area, one 25 or so years old, and one relatively young. Spectacular. Then came the Malvazia, which was youthful tasting, fresh even.
-OW
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Roy Hersh

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by Roy Hersh » Thu Mar 30, 2006 3:19 am

MY TOP 10 FAVORITE PRE-1840s
1795 Barbeito Terrantez Madeira
1802 Acciaioly Terrantez Madeira
1808 Blandy's Malmsey Madeira
1830 Ferreira Vintage Port
1830 Quinta do Serrado Malmsey Madeira
1834 Barbeito Malvazia Madeira
1834 Barbeito Terrantez Madeira
1836 Oscar Acciaioly Malmsey
1837 Tokaji
1839 Acciaioly Verdelho Madeira


Dozens of other Vintage and Colheita Ports and Madeiras between 1840-1900


Other young ones:
1914 Pol Roger
1918 Seguin Manuel Musigny
1921 Pol Roger
1929 Chateau d'Yquem
1929 Chateau Filhot
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Peter Ruhrberg

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Re: WineAdvisor: Oldest wine you've ever tasted

by Peter Ruhrberg » Thu Mar 30, 2006 6:55 am

Robin Garr wrote:
Peter Ruhrberg wrote:1792 - not much happened then....


Whoa, that's ancient! Care to tell us more about it, Peter?


Not much to tell, really. I visited a Madeira collecting friend on some afternoon in London, and he unceremoniously put some open bottles from his cupboard in front of me to try. One bottle was a bit older than the rest (but not by much...), made from 3 separate peices of glass. It was the so called Napoleon Madeira, a wine from 1792 which the little man had taken with him to exile, but never drank on account of his sensitive stomach. The barrel was recovered by the Madeira shipper and bottled later (who know what actually went into the bottles...maybe they blended it a little?). The wine makes you think of course about the time, and that 200 years are not actually that long. I mean WW2 is already 60 years past, so add another 150 or so...
The wine was a little tired, to be honest, and not up to the finest early 20th century Madeiras that were also on the table. Just an ordinary afternoon at a friends house, I guess...

Peter
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Re: WineAdvisor: Oldest wine you've ever tasted

by Robin Garr » Thu Mar 30, 2006 9:09 am

Peter Ruhrberg wrote:Just an ordinary afternoon at a friends house, I guess...


Perhaps! :) Thanks for the follow-up, Peter. Drinking Napoleon's stash ... what a story!
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David Cohen

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A 1906 Madeira

by David Cohen » Fri Mar 31, 2006 12:57 am

If Alan Gardner is reading, he can tell you the label etc at last Christmas's Winetasters Event. Far and away the oldest wine I ever tasted. I started sneezing profusely after tasting however and I wondered what caused that.
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Gavin Trott

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by Gavin Trott » Fri Mar 31, 2006 1:13 am

Nothing of the age of some of the previous

but

1947 Hardys Vintage Port.

Probably with a large % of Shiraz in it, and bought at auction, for, unbelievably, $40Aud, which is about $US29.

Wonderful wine, balanced, delicious, ethereal with life still.

Not Portugese VP of course, but for an old Aussie (the wine, not me) remarkable!
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Gavin Trott
Australian Wine Centre
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Roy Hersh

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by Roy Hersh » Fri Mar 31, 2006 9:43 pm

Gavin,

Now take off that damn capital P and adjust it to lower case, as in port! :D
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Re: WineAdvisor: Oldest wine you've ever tasted

by Bob Cohen » Fri Mar 31, 2006 10:56 pm

Peter Ruhrberg wrote:1792 - not much happened then....

Peter


Peter that reminds me of a diary entry for July 4, 1776 by King George of England. He supposedly wrote that not much happened today.

It took a little while for the news to reach him that across the pond in his colonies there had been some events that day.
--Bob
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Re: WineAdvisor: Oldest wine you've ever tasted

by SFJoe » Mon Apr 03, 2006 6:45 pm

Not much to tell, really. I visited a Madeira collecting friend on some afternoon in London, and he unceremoniously put some open bottles from his cupboard in front of me to try.

I'm fortunate to share Peter's Madeira collecting friend in London, and he was kind enough to pour me a taste from what must have been the same bottle. I think Peter might have been slightly hard on the wine, but it was noticeably more tired than some mid-19th C wines. Of course, this is the friend who sent the immortal, never to be topped email when he announced that, after reflection, he really prefers 19th C Madeira to 18th C.

While we mention 1926, a bottle of Latour a couple of years ago was quite amazing.

And on my favorite Loire wines, 1919, 1921, and 1924 from Le Haut Lieu (made prior to the purchase by the Huets) were not remotely tired.
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by JC (NC) » Tue Apr 04, 2006 7:38 pm

Other than Port or Sherry with older origins and topped off with more recent vintages, the oldest I've had was probably just a taste (not a full bottle!) of a 30-year old re-released Montrachet from the 60's. It looked and tasted very youthful.
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by Bill Spohn » Wed Apr 05, 2006 2:16 pm

Hmm - several from the excellent 1929 vintage, Burgs and Bordeaux, a few from the 'teens, a memorable 1878 Cockburns Port, an 1860 Blandys Sercial, and a few others from the 19th century.
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by Erez » Fri Apr 07, 2006 12:48 am

Speaking of old wines I belong to a group of guys, all born in 1968 and we get together once a year to drink wines from 1968. Unfortunately this was not a great vintage almost across the globe. Does anyone here have any experience with a 1968 wine that is worth chasing down?
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by Roy Hersh » Fri Apr 07, 2006 1:51 am

Look for Blandy's, Barbeito and especially the D'Oliveira Bual, Madeira. It is guaranteed to be the youngest tasting 1968 alive and it is guaranteed to be very drinkable. It all depends on whether or not you like Madeira though. If this was my birth year, I'd own cases of these. They should be in the $100 per bottle range, if memory serves me correctly (but then again, that is pricing we see in the USA ... I am not sure about Down Under).
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by Paul Winalski » Sat Apr 08, 2006 1:50 am

Let's see....

1929 Mouton and 1929 Latour, drunk in 1989. Until then, I hadn't appreciated why so many wine geeks go ga-ga over old Bordeaux. Now I understand.

1865 Bual Madiera (forget the producer, probably Barbeito). Vibrant, fragrant, and complex. Vintage Madeira must be the nearest thing to an immortal wine. I have some 1834 Madeira in my cellar, and I hope to celebrate its 200th anniversary.

-Paul W.
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by Jason Brandt Lewis » Sat Apr 08, 2006 2:37 pm

Oldest wine was French -- 1794, IIRC -- it was a Rhône wine, tasted at a Heublein auction preview in 1974. Oldest Bordeaux was 1869 Château Montrose. Oldest Burgundy was a 1937 Dr. Barolet, but I forget the appellation. Oldest Champagne was a 1929 Moët. When it comes to the Loire and Alsace, I'm sadly deficient: 1947 Vouvray Moelleux and 1945 Riesling, respectively.

Oldest California wine was an Angelica c. 1854.

Cheers,
Jason
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by Robin Garr » Sat Apr 08, 2006 3:02 pm

Jason Brandt Lewis wrote:Oldest California wine was an Angelica c. 1854.


Wow! For some strange reason, Jason, that impresses me even more than the ancient Euro-wines you mentioned ... we're talking Gold Rush days.

So, how was it? Did TomHill follow it from the very start?
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by Jason Brandt Lewis » Sat Apr 08, 2006 4:33 pm

Tom MADE it! :wink:

It was a classic Angelica, not too different from the wine Heitz used to sell in the 1960s and 1970s. this, too, was at a Heublein auction and, IIRC, was from Mission grapes planted in Cucamonga.

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Jason
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by François Audouze » Mon Apr 10, 2006 4:56 pm

oldest alcohol 1769 cognac
1769 Jerez cellar Nicolas
oldest sweet wine 1780 Lacrima Christi Napoli
oldest red wine 1811 Chambertin producer unknown
oldest white wine 1846 Meursault Charmes Bouchard
oldest Yquem 1861
oldest Bordeaux 1869 Gruaud Larose
oldest Champagne 1904 Moët & Chandon
oldest Pétrus 1915
oldest Loire 1921 Chateau d'Epiré
oldest Rhone 1921 Saint-Peray Milliand et Mayoux
oldest Romanée Conti 1945


My oldest Jura will jump from 1911 to 1864 in 15 days, as I will open a 1864 Chateau Chalon in family with friends.
Old wines are younger than what is generally considered
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