Low fill DRC - Drink or sell?

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LawrenceM
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Low fill DRC - Drink or sell?

#1 Post by LawrenceM » May 29th, 2019, 7:22 pm

I have a dilemma regarding a bottle of 1978 DRC Richebourg which I acquired at auction. The fill is into the mid-shoulder, color (viewed through the glass) seems excellent, and the cork appears to be in good shape. I do not know the provenance other than that it came from a deceased estate with a below-ground cellar, and there were multiple DRCs and First Growths etc. in that cellar.

I took it out of my wine storage unit to move to my wine fridge at home ahead of plans to drink with a friend at a good restaurant next month (celebratory lunch), and when doing so I got chatting to someone who stores wines at the same facility as I do. He offered me $900 for the bottle given the condition, and I said I'd think about it.

So here is the dilemma: do I sell the bottle to him, buy something else for lunch and let him assume the risk (based on his collection, I don't think he would cry into his soup if the bottle was flawed) or do I take the risk at the restaurant?

The question may seem fairly obvious given the ullage, although I have seen many DRCs with this fill similar to this which have been reported to be drinking well. Any insights from drinkers of older DRC's greatly appreciated.
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Re: Low fill DRC - Drink or sell?

#2 Post by Anton D » May 29th, 2019, 7:24 pm

Take the money and run.
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Re: Low fill DRC - Drink or sell?

#3 Post by alan weinberg » May 29th, 2019, 7:43 pm

lousy fill. While Burgs tolerate ullage better than most other wines, I’d pass on this bottle.

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Re: Low fill DRC - Drink or sell?

#4 Post by Randy Bowman » May 29th, 2019, 7:46 pm

Drink it or spend two months in court with the victim you sell it to.
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Re: Low fill DRC - Drink or sell?

#5 Post by R@y.Tupp@+sch » May 29th, 2019, 7:49 pm

The color looks extremely dark. Hold it up to a light, and if dark or murky - sell it.
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Re: Low fill DRC - Drink or sell?

#6 Post by ChrisStags » May 29th, 2019, 8:06 pm

Wow that fill is really terrible!!! Not sure auction houses would even except this anymore. What auction house sold this to you and take the money and run 🏃 🏃 🏃!!!!
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Re: Low fill DRC - Drink or sell?

#7 Post by Kirk.Grant » May 29th, 2019, 8:08 pm

I would drink this...the wine shop I worked at in South West Harbor bought a lot of older DRCs and many had levels down where your bottle shows and the wines were glorious. I'd assume there is too much risk to sell the wine. 1978 DRC Richebourg...this is either going to be the best Burgundy you've had or one hell of a story. I'd also err on the side of opening this on a fruit day in the biodynamic calendar...just for the sake of it all.
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Re: Low fill DRC - Drink or sell?

#8 Post by Victor Hong » May 29th, 2019, 8:14 pm

Drink it.
You can make more money, but not more DRC.

Oh, wait,......
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Re: Low fill DRC - Drink or sell?

#9 Post by GregT » May 29th, 2019, 8:19 pm

He offered me $900 for the bottle given the condition, and I said I'd think about it.
Sell it. Then buy some wine that's cheaper and in better condition.

Nobody is going to sue you for $900 and a risk they knowingly took.
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Re: Low fill DRC - Drink or sell?

#10 Post by B. Buzzini » May 29th, 2019, 8:27 pm

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Re: Low fill DRC - Drink or sell?

#11 Post by brodie thomson » May 29th, 2019, 8:40 pm

Eric the Wine Director at Berns told me that the number one criteria he uses when choosing old burgs is colour. He said colour is much more reliable indicator of how well the bottle is going to perform rather than focusing on ullage. But follow what Ray said as well; if it is murky or cloudy then all bets are off. If the colour is clear then Eric's experience applies.

You bought it to share with a friend: So go ahead and take a risk and share it with your friend. The opportunity to drink older DRC is very very rare. The money can be replaced but an old DRC not so much

Drink it!

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Re: Low fill DRC - Drink or sell?

#12 Post by c fu » May 29th, 2019, 9:12 pm

There is low fill and there is this. Like ray said it’s super dark too. Let it stand for a few days and shine a light in its back and then decide
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Re: Low fill DRC - Drink or sell?

#13 Post by Kris Patten » May 29th, 2019, 9:31 pm

B. Buzzini wrote:
May 29th, 2019, 8:27 pm
Coravin
Someone already did...hence fill and offer at auction. [pwn.gif]

To pile on, I'd trust Ray's opinion, he drinks at this level and age of wine.
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Re: Low fill DRC - Drink or sell?

#14 Post by Nate Simon » May 29th, 2019, 9:45 pm

Sell that shit. PT Barnum principle in full effect.

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Re: Low fill DRC - Drink or sell?

#15 Post by LarryA » May 29th, 2019, 9:49 pm

I bought a cellar that has two 1929 Romanee Contis that have worse ullage than the bottle in this picture. I have not tried either, but the color in each is good. I was in France at the Hospices de Beaune at the same time that Aubert de Villaine was making a presentation, so after the presentation I asked him about the two bottles with low fill. He said that he had recently had a 1959 (I believe the vintage was) La Tache that was only half full, and that it showed wonderfully. But only for 30 minutes. After that it fell apart.

His advice was to open the much-less-ullaged 1929s with enough dining and drinking partners that it could be consumed relatively quickly.

My guess is that your 1978 will be in fine shape as long as the color is good.
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Re: Low fill DRC - Drink or sell?

#16 Post by Scott G r u n e r » May 29th, 2019, 9:55 pm

Kris Patten wrote:
May 29th, 2019, 9:31 pm
B. Buzzini wrote:
May 29th, 2019, 8:27 pm
Coravin
Someone already did...hence fill and offer at auction. [pwn.gif]

To pile on, I'd trust Ray's opinion, he drinks at this level and age of wine.
My thought exactly. That is a super low fill.
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Re: Low fill DRC - Drink or sell?

#17 Post by Chuck Miller » May 29th, 2019, 10:50 pm

It’s a simple question. The potential buyer has already heavily discounted the value to compensate for the risk they are taking, so if you sell it, no lost sleep. The question is, will $900 change your life? I’ll assume no. So drink it. Maybe it will blow your mind, but if not, who cares? If $900 would change your life, sell it.
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Re: Low fill DRC - Drink or sell?

#18 Post by LawrenceM » May 29th, 2019, 11:49 pm

Thank you very much for all of the thoughtful replies. To answer a few questions:

1. The guy who offered $900 for the bottle did so on the basis of the condition - he knows what DRC is worth, and he owns a few bottles himself. I am not worried that he is not aware of the risk he would be taking on.
2. $900 would not change my life, but equally can only BYOB one bottle to this restaurant, and don't want to take a 1 in 50 shot of it being good in those circumstances.

To the extent it helps, I have attached two photos just taken - one to show the color through the neck when held up to a light, and a second to show the fill a bit better than the first picture.

I am still on the fence between passion and prudence; I am pretty tempted to just open the bottle for the reasons set out by a few people above, subject to the color not changing the views of the pro-open posters above.
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Re: Low fill DRC - Drink or sell?

#19 Post by Gerhard P. » May 30th, 2019, 12:08 am

This bottle needs standing still for 1-2 weeks. I think the colour is ok, looks not oxidized, only mature.
I´ve had DRC bottles and other Burgs with similar low fill - and most of the time they were ok.

So I´d take the odds ... but in any case let it settle down, slow-ox it for several hours (3-4) and do not decant ... or only the last quarter to get rid of the sediment - already in the restaurant.
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Re: Low fill DRC - Drink or sell?

#20 Post by Marcus Dean » May 30th, 2019, 12:57 am

Go for it, 78 is worth the gamble

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Re: Low fill DRC - Drink or sell?

#21 Post by YLee » May 30th, 2019, 2:38 am

How much did you pay for it? If more, drink. If much less, consider sell.
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Re: Low fill DRC - Drink or sell?

#22 Post by T. Williams » May 30th, 2019, 4:10 am

Assuming $900 doesn’t significantly alter your financial well-being, (hopefully not since you bought this bottle and it seems like that would be irresponsible if so) I would drink it. Either it will be an amazing bottle and a story worth the price or it will be terrible and still an experience worth the story.

In regard to the restaurant conundrum. Just wait and drink it at a different time when it is more appropriate to bring back up bottles.

I will say, this is out of my realm of drinking, but I am emboli get the power of the internet to give an unsolicited opinion! [cheers.gif]
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Re: Low fill DRC - Drink or sell?

#23 Post by Robert M yers » May 30th, 2019, 5:05 am

I’d probably sell it, even if it’s drinkable you have no idea of provenance and obviously something has contributed to the extreme ullage here. Therefore I doubt what you taste would be a true representative bottle. unless you have the tasting history to compare it’s not how I’d want my impression to be made. Because of the prestige of the label the wine will be over analyzed and I’d be wondering the whole time is this right?

Unless you paid like $100 or $900 means nothing to you, which I assume it doesn’t since you asked the question.
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Re: Low fill DRC - Drink or sell?

#24 Post by scamhi » May 30th, 2019, 5:21 am

drink it.
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Re: Low fill DRC - Drink or sell?

#25 Post by Kevin Porter » May 30th, 2019, 5:26 am

ChrisStags wrote:
May 29th, 2019, 8:06 pm
Wow that fill is really terrible!!! Not sure auction houses would even except this anymore. What auction house sold this to you and take the money and run 🏃 🏃 🏃!!!!
Oh, they might well except it [snort.gif]

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Re: Low fill DRC - Drink or sell?

#26 Post by edwardmilstein » May 30th, 2019, 6:04 am

with a medium fill its worth 3-4,000. assuming color is good , definite drinker.
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Re: Low fill DRC - Drink or sell?

#27 Post by A. So » May 30th, 2019, 6:12 am

YLee wrote:
May 30th, 2019, 2:38 am
How much did you pay for it? If more, drink. If much less, consider sell.
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Re: Low fill DRC - Drink or sell?

#28 Post by Jonathan Grunzweig » May 30th, 2019, 6:20 am

I had a very rewarding experience with this exact wine about 6 weeks ago, despite a low-shoulder (borderline below) fill. My TN follows. Good luck!

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"My second of two bottles. Whereas the prior one was flawed, marred by some sort of mold, this was a very different story, notwithstanding a terrifyingly low fill. Opened 6 hours in advance to allow to slow-ox. The ancient-looking cork came out relatively whole, but for a stub bit that tumbled into the wine. No signs of seepage, but the edges were crusted with a fine dusting that I think may have been a sort of deterioration of the metal seal. I could tell we were in luck from the sweet fruit aromas that quickly emerged, and was not to be disappointed when I returned to the cellar that evening. My friend and I started with a small pour, remarking on how light-colored, almost translucent the wine was in the glass. From a single sip, he said he sensed a touch of madeirization, but I didn't detect any such aspect. Maybe he was trying to dampen expectations? The fruit was very present for me, backed up by a rich, glycerined texture, presumably from long-ago new oak. In any case, we topped up our pours and set the glasses aside for thirty minutes or so. Upon returning, it was indisputable that the wine had gained density in appearance, something we had not noticed any time before. And the wine was singing! Sweet and tart red fruit: cranberries, rhubarb, orange oil and something more exotic we couldn't identify exactly (he said cola at one point but I didn't agree). The wine continued to change throughout the evening, showing smoked meat, bacon fat, exotic spice and that awesome viscosity. My friend had been with me a week before when I gave two wines (1964 Ausone and 1990 Cailloux Centenaire) 100 points each -- he gleefully pronounced these better! For me, this Richebourg fell fractionally below perfection, but when emotion is taken into account it ranks as amongst my most unforgettable wines."

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Re: Low fill DRC - Drink or sell?

#29 Post by John Morris » May 30th, 2019, 7:28 am

I'd say drink it.

I'd be wary of taking it to a restaurant, though, unless (a) you can drop it off ahead so it's had time to stand upright to let sediment settle out and (b) you are very confident that the sommelier knows how to handle a bottle like this. It would be very easy to have a very sound bottle spoiled by sediment, either bringing it there or because of careless/clueless wait staff!
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Re: Low fill DRC - Drink or sell?

#30 Post by Richard Albert » May 30th, 2019, 8:10 am

If you have consumed DRC wines previously sell it, if not, it may be your only shot and even more so for a 1978.
I have consumed many bottles of RC, LaT and Richebourg from the 60's and 70's, including four or five of this one, so my attitude is different.
It may provide an interesting experience and it may not, but as previously posted it is not a prime example, but rather survivor of unknown provenance--did it sit on a wine rack on top of the frig? It has serious ullage for a reason and some of the potential causes such as seasonal temperature variations in a passive cellar combined with a cork failure could mean damaging air and liquid exchange. If the cork is dessicated from years in low humidity and did not maintain a good seal. How did you determine the cork is in good shape, a critical determining factor?
I would sell it and get another great wine from known provenance with good bottle conditions and have the best experience possible.
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Re: Low fill DRC - Drink or sell?

#31 Post by m. ristev » May 30th, 2019, 9:18 am

i am shocked to see even one person recommend drinking this. no way it will be a representative experience, who cares what it says on the label. take the money without a doubt.
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Re: Low fill DRC - Drink or sell?

#32 Post by David_K » May 30th, 2019, 10:19 am

What would this bring at auction? More than $900 I assume, even with a low fill?
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Re: Low fill DRC - Drink or sell?

#33 Post by p@ulbortin » May 30th, 2019, 11:57 am

Fill level way too low for ‘78

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Re: Low fill DRC - Drink or sell?

#34 Post by ChrisStags » May 30th, 2019, 12:06 pm

Sounds like you have already made up your mind. Just pop the dam thing and report back. Case closed.

Or get the guy up to $1500 and then run real fast 🏃🏃🏃
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Re: Low fill DRC - Drink or sell?

#35 Post by Brandon R » May 30th, 2019, 12:12 pm

Drink it! Imagine if the wine was indeed bad and you had to keep running into that same guy who bought it? How awkward would that be? And that's IF he didn't demand his money back in which case you'd be out $900 and with no DRC to drink. D.T.S.! (drink that sh*t!)
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Re: Low fill DRC - Drink or sell?

#36 Post by R@y.Tupp@+sch » May 30th, 2019, 12:29 pm

David_K wrote:
May 30th, 2019, 10:19 am
What would this bring at auction? More than $900 I assume, even with a low fill?
Unless the color and clarity are at least very good, most houses wouldn't sell it.
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Re: Low fill DRC - Drink or sell?

#37 Post by Ian A » May 30th, 2019, 12:32 pm

Drink.

Based on my (limited...and very recent) experience that you are over compensated for buying low ullage wines.

Thus you are likely to be over penalised for selling a low ullage wine. Especially DRC. And you will go to your grave regretting that you never opened it.
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Re: Low fill DRC - Drink or sell?

#38 Post by Eric Lundblad » May 30th, 2019, 1:15 pm

In addition to the color (in the pic above) indicating it's likely in good shape...Richebourg is amongst the most powerful/structured of Burgundies, making it more able to handle that ullage than other wines.
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Re: Low fill DRC - Drink or sell?

#39 Post by Claus Jeppesen » May 30th, 2019, 2:12 pm

Scott G r u n e r wrote:
May 29th, 2019, 9:55 pm
Kris Patten wrote:
May 29th, 2019, 9:31 pm
B. Buzzini wrote:
May 29th, 2019, 8:27 pm
Coravin
Someone already did...hence fill and offer at auction. [pwn.gif]

To pile on, I'd trust Ray's opinion, he drinks at this level and age of wine.
My thought exactly. That is a super low fill.
Exactly
Looks more like 1958 or older
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Re: Low fill DRC - Drink or sell?

#40 Post by Kent Comley » May 30th, 2019, 2:53 pm

I have drunk a few Bordeaux and old Aussies with low fill that have been OK.
To me though this wine is just too ullaged for a wine of its age. I have wines from the late 60s in my cellar that are ullaged less than 1 cm. My only experience of 78 DRC was a perfect fill LT a decade ago and that wine was certainly fully mature. Personally I would err on the side of taking the money.
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Re: Low fill DRC - Drink or sell?

#41 Post by Matthew.Rashbrook » May 30th, 2019, 2:56 pm

It seems pretty unlikely that in 10 years you'll remember the $900.

The wine, on the other hand, you may remember on your deathbed.

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Re: Low fill DRC - Drink or sell?

#42 Post by alan weinberg » May 30th, 2019, 3:03 pm

for the record, fills in burgundy bottles are described in cm below the cork, not as “neck” or “ shoulder.” Measure w a ruler.

As for the 29 RC, I once had a taste at a Bipin Desai tasting more than a decade ago. One of the three greatest wines I have ever had. Looked like a combination of orange juice and dirty bath water. Amazing taste and bouquet.

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Re: Low fill DRC - Drink or sell?

#43 Post by Anton D » May 30th, 2019, 3:17 pm

Oooh, I like some of the ideas.

Grab a bottle of Marcassin pinot noir, otherwise known as 'Domaine Rudee Conti,' and be prepared to "augment" your tasting experience with a little ad hoc mixing, if need be!
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Re: Low fill DRC - Drink or sell?

#44 Post by K John Joseph » May 30th, 2019, 3:42 pm

The cork looks like it is pushed up and is stretching the foil. Combine that with a low fill and what you can buy for $900 and I would pass. You can buy truly spectacular bottles of wine for $900 that are in perfect condition. The desire to drink is a FOMO desire. You want to say you've had a glorious 78 DRC Richebourg (and who wouldn't). But you can have a glorious drinking experience with any number of incredible and famous wines at that price without the likelihood of a brutal letdown. Play the odds here.
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Re: Low fill DRC - Drink or sell?

#45 Post by R. Frankel » May 30th, 2019, 5:09 pm

I’m in the drink camp, but mostly because I’ve had precious few bottles like this. I’m sure the restaurant has other bottles if this is bad.
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Re: Low fill DRC - Drink or sell?

#46 Post by B. Buzzini » May 30th, 2019, 5:52 pm

What did you pay? I bought a 64 Ech a few years ago for something like $250...similar ullage and color(perceived) to your Richie...the wine SUCKED! Corked/oxed/spoiled/rancid....you get what you pay for!

And...why white out the bottle#?
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Re: Low fill DRC - Drink or sell?

#47 Post by Anton D » May 30th, 2019, 5:55 pm

B. Buzzini wrote:
May 30th, 2019, 5:52 pm
What did you pay? I bought a 64 Ech a few years ago for something like $250...similar ullage and color(perceived) to your Richie...the wine SUCKED! Corked/oxed/spoiled/rancid....you get what you pay for!
If only you had paid more for it!

[cheers.gif]
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Re: Low fill DRC - Drink or sell?

#48 Post by LawrenceM » May 30th, 2019, 9:06 pm

Thanks all. I'll have a think about this and let you know what the decision (for those who care!)
B. Buzzini wrote:
May 30th, 2019, 5:52 pm
And...why white out the bottle#?
Just a wine foible of mine. Don't post pictures of serial numbers on bottles on the basis that it could potentially help a fraudster. Since the serial number has no bearing to the question at hand, I don't see any upside in publishing it. If you want the serial number, PM me and I'll gladly give it to you.
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Tom Reddick
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Re: Low fill DRC - Drink or sell?

#49 Post by Tom Reddick » May 30th, 2019, 11:22 pm

Fill is not great, but not a deal-breaker. The foam worries me more assuming that is what I am seeing in the first photo vs an odd reflection.

Color looks decent at the very least if I am interpreting the photo correctly- always easier and better in person.

Capsule looks good- mild corrosion which is normal, but none of the signs I would see from a bottle that has leaked.

Label in exceptional condition- suggestive of good dark storage and tucked away from the elements in general. Also of minimal handling- this taken into account with the provenance you were given are important in a time when bottles like this are routinely resold and shipped all over the place.

As others have said- with that ullage many auction houses and brokers would pass. $900 is a reasonable offer for someone willing to take a gamble- so on that front I think you have about the best offer you are going to get if you try to sell.

If it were me, I would drink it. Older DRC is so incredibly expensive now- plus so many bottles have made numerous trips back and forth to sale- that I would personally rather have a bottle with a less than ideal fill which appears to have been at rest for many years versus a bottle without long term provenance. I have had DRCs of this age and older with fills at this level which were not only drinkable but performing quite well.
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paul hanna
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Re: Low fill DRC - Drink or sell?

#50 Post by paul hanna » May 31st, 2019, 4:04 am

A bottle of '78 LT we had - great fill, and the wine was in lovely condition (as you can see from the pic), but badly corked. [swearing.gif]


The best bottle on the day was the '85 RB. (and it had the lowest fill....).

'78 RB is perhaps the wine that has held up the best of the DRC '78's, if the colour is good, I would drink it....

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