continuing the discussion on old wines

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François Audouze
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continuing the discussion on old wines

#1 Post by François Audouze » February 23rd, 2020, 8:35 pm

I could write pages and pages about the subject of old wines to which I have devoted my passion.
Consider what I say in this article as the cry of my heart.

Some people imagine that age diminishes a wine. I imagine that age improves a wine. And I have seen a justification of that through many extensive verticals that I have attended.

One day we made a vertical of Clos de Tart on 56 vintages going back to the decade 1880. My favorite was the 1915. But more interesting is that there were journalists whom I know do not like old wines. And when I asked them which one they preferred, they never answered a young wine but wines of the decade 1940 or of the decade 1920.
I think that Robert Parker made a very bad service to wine when he introduced the concept of plateau of maturity followed by a decline. This leads to the idea that a wine declines, when it is the contrary that arrives, if the corks keep all their qualities.

Some people say that I am a necrophilous, but it happens that I convince people who drink with me.

Some examples:
My greatest Lafite is Lafite 1844, a prephylloxeric wine which was pure perfection.
My greatest white wine is a 1865 Montrachet Bouchard, who left me speechless. I was in front of perfection.
My greatest Yquem is 1861 of a very great year but which had an advantage which is unique: it had its original cork.
My greatest DRC wine is Les Gaudichots DRC 1929. A pure marvel.
My greatest red wine is 1961 Hermitage La Chapelle Jaboulet
My greatest Mouton is 1945 Mouton
It is more difficult to say which is my best Haut-Brion but 1928 and 1945 are candidates.
My greatest Champagne Salon is 1943
My greatest Dom Pérignon is 1929

One could say that I am intoxicated by old wines, but when I share wines with many amateurs, it is rare that they say that I am wrong.

We live in a world where the decline of a wine has been taught to everyone, even the winemakers. When I talked about my dinners people said: “are these wines still good?”. And it was so frequent that at one moment I answered to these questions: “no these wines are dead and I am specialized in dinners of dead wines”.

I go further. If for the greatest Bordeaux you think that a 2005 or a 2009 can deserve 100 points, my intimate conviction is that a 1947 or a 1928 deserves 200 or 300 points. Drink one day 1947 Latour or 1928 Margaux and you will regret not considering these wines.

Of course I admit that some people can think: he is passionate for old wines so his palate is deviated. But if it were the case, the people who share wines with me would tell it to me. And if they do not it is not because they are polite.

One day I went to Belgium for a dinner of Chateauneuf du Pape. I brought the oldest, a 1933, and it was accepted as the winner of the dinner.
One day I was invited by a man who collects Beaujolais because he lives in Beaujolais. I brought a 1945 Moulin à Vent and he was frustrated because I had brought the best ever Beaujolais that he had drunk because he had never considered that a Beaujolais of 1945 could be still living.

My intimate conviction is that we live with wine what I will try to image. Imagine that all the shops who sell fruits present only green strawberries. As everybody would only know green strawberries, they would like green strawberries. And they would find virtues in green strawberries. Because nobody would have told them that red strawberries exist.

If you have never drunk a wine of 1945, 1947, 1928 or 1929 you cannot imagine that they are the red strawberries when all the wines after 1982 are green strawberries.

Of course there is passion in my words, but the world of old wines is such a fantastic world that I try as much as I can to let it be known.

I can fully understand that amateurs say: I prefer the genuineness of the fruits in great young wines. It is their choice. But as I drink also these young wines, I feel entitled to say: explore this fantastic world because it is where perfection exists.

Today, contrarily to what I have known, the very old great wines are not accessible financially. But it does not mean by any way that they are not transcendental. They are. It is not because I have not the means to buy a Bugatti that a Bugatti is not the absolute perfection of a car.

After 50 years of collecting wines I know that I will never convince anyone, except with a glass in hand.
Cheers
Kind regards

François Audouze

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Re: continuing the discussion on old wines

#2 Post by Mike S. » February 23rd, 2020, 10:15 pm

Thank your for sharing your profound knowledge. I always enjoy your experience. I am 81, and as I enjoy the older wines I have collected they are for me the best. If others enjoy the ripe and full fruit of young wine they are not wrong. These are two very different experiences. Neither is "right". I do like a rich fruit filled young wine at times.
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Re: continuing the discussion on old wines

#3 Post by Mike R » February 24th, 2020, 4:45 am

Thank you for this reply. In my opinion this post is a great example of how romantic older wines can be. Your passion clearly shows. If you ever find yourself in NYC with some of your great older wines with you, I'd love to try them with you, regardless of the cost.
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Re: continuing the discussion on old wines

#4 Post by Bill Sweeney » February 24th, 2020, 4:50 am

You are an artist in your writing. Some of the best non-fiction I’ve read.

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Re: continuing the discussion on old wines

#5 Post by Mark Golodetz » February 24th, 2020, 5:16 am

Francois, can you please explain the red strawberry/green strawberry comment. And also what do you attribute this to?
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Re: continuing the discussion on old wines

#6 Post by Jason T » February 24th, 2020, 5:23 am

Mark Golodetz wrote:
February 24th, 2020, 5:16 am
Francois, can you please explain the red strawberry/green strawberry comment. And also what do you attribute this to?
Mark, I took this to mean that if we have only been exposed to the inferior (and unevolved) version of something, and have no knowledge that a different form exists, then we can only grow to appreciate the inferior form.

Edit: it occurs to me you may be asking Francois not on what he meant by the strawberry analogy, but by why he indicates a difference pre/post 1982.
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Re: continuing the discussion on old wines

#7 Post by Robert.A.Jr. » February 24th, 2020, 5:34 am

Curious about the comment that all wines after 1982 are green strawberries. While many here lament the rise of modernization/internationalization in Bordeaux, and the ubiquity brought about by the consultant crowd, are you really suggesting that there are no Bordeaux post-1982 that will rival those of 45, 47, 59, et al, once they have experienced a comparable level of maturity? Please expound, I’m intrigued. Perhaps what you mean is that they are green today and still need 25+ years to transform into pretty red strawberries. I don’t care for strawberries, by the way, but do love mature Bordeaux.

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Re: continuing the discussion on old wines

#8 Post by Mark Golodetz » February 24th, 2020, 5:59 am

Robert, I think his comment about green/red strawberries was metaphorical, but I still don’t understand it, at least not that early. 1985 Bordeaux for instance is a poster child for old fashioned, classic Bordeaux that matured as wines have in the past, and there are plenty of other examples I can think of, going as far forward as 2008.

Come 2009, and the growing conditions seemed to change radically, with huge amounts of dry matter, acidity, alcohol etc. Looking back, it seemed that Global Warming was hitting Bordeaux with a vengeance, and several vintages seemed to suffer from the effects. I even wondered whether or not we would be the last generation to taste these classic wines young, that era before GW transformed the region. A few months ago, I tasted 2014s, and later 2016, and realized I had been premature. I loved 2014 for their old fashioned virtues, barely ripe but ripe enough, red and beautiful wines. 2016 is set to be something better still, wines that have teal depth, character and have serious terroir.

While I agree with Francois that are dangers, I am not sure all the strawberries are green.

NB My apologies Francois for not getting accents right. My phone lost its copy function.
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Re: continuing the discussion on old wines

#9 Post by Robert.A.Jr. » February 24th, 2020, 6:09 am

I got the metaphor, just trying to understand the use of that metaphor. My literal comment at the end was in jest.

Thanks for the context on 2016, I’ve been re-thinking it recently. I had stopped at 2014, such a wonderfully classic and affordable vintage, but have slowly started buying some 16s. Was initially loathe to do that at the ripe age of 54 that I am.

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Re: continuing the discussion on old wines

#10 Post by Markus S » February 24th, 2020, 6:29 am

Not having had any 'ripe strawberries', I'll have to take your word for it, but if you wish to enlighten me and are coming to America, I'll welcome you with open arms and embrace your invite to witness this firsthand.
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Re: continuing the discussion on old wines

#11 Post by Jonathan Loesberg » February 24th, 2020, 8:17 am

Robert.A.Jr. wrote:
February 24th, 2020, 6:09 am
I got the metaphor, just trying to understand the use of that metaphor. My literal comment at the end was in jest.

Thanks for the context on 2016, I’ve been re-thinking it recently. I had stopped at 2014, such a wonderfully classic and affordable vintage, but have slowly started buying some 16s. Was initially loathe to do that at the ripe age of 54 that I am.
I don't think he was commenting on the ultimate quality of post 1982 vintages. He just considers them all to be too young, like unripe strawberries. For him, a 1985 probably won't be ready until 2055. Having head almost no wines at the age at which he drinks them, I am unable to comment.

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Re: continuing the discussion on old wines

#12 Post by François Audouze » February 24th, 2020, 8:54 am

Thank you for all your comments. It is always difficult to make métaphores.
My intimate conviction is that the wines which were well made will age as gloriously as the ancient wines.
It means that if a 1928 is glorious today, I do not see why a 1990 would not be as glorious when it is 92 years old, in 2082.

And I believe also that in some régions wines are better made than one century ago.

What makes a great wine is the addition of two factors : the way to make wine, and, ad min equal, the age.
Great wines are drunk absolutely too young, even if they are pleasant with a spontaneous fruit.

La Tâche of 3 years is a pure wonder. But La Tâche of 60 years is a marvel.
Kind regards

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Re: continuing the discussion on old wines

#13 Post by TimB » February 24th, 2020, 9:07 am

I think that Robert Parker made a very bad service to wine when he introduced the concept of plateau of maturity followed by a decline. This leads to the idea that a wine declines, when it is the contrary that arrives, if the corks keep all their qualities.
Thank you for this perspective, in the last year I've had quite a few wines that were well beyond their drink by dates and found them to be exceptional and wondered if I was missing something by liking wines that were supposedly past their prime.

Have been eyeing one of the specific wines you mentioned that is available at retail with the intent to drink it on its 100th birthday, its looking even more tempting now...
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Re: continuing the discussion on old wines

#14 Post by R. Frankel » February 24th, 2020, 9:30 am

Thank you for the story, Francois, lovely as always. And keep using those metaphors! They make perfect sense to me, everyone here will figure them out eventually.
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Re: continuing the discussion on old wines

#15 Post by Chris Seiber » February 24th, 2020, 9:48 am

I always enjoy reading Francois's posts.

Even setting aside the issue of old and young wines, he seems like a great example of someone with a genuine passion and love of wine. In an age where most people seem to look for things to attack and to be angry about, Francois is someone looking to find joy and beauty in things. Blake Brown and Frank Murray are others who make that same impression on me.

Now, I've never met Francois or tasted with him. I know he has some detractors, and I wouldn't be one to say who is right and wrong about what. But the Francois I know from his posts really inspires me.

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Re: continuing the discussion on old wines

#16 Post by Peter Kleban » February 24th, 2020, 9:52 am

Yes, we are lucky to have him posting here. Who else has such vast experience, perspective and so great a talent for explaining what he finds in these old wines? Whenever I see a new post of his, I wonder what adventure awaits, and I am never disappointed. Thank you, François!
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Re: continuing the discussion on old wines

#17 Post by Charlie Carnes » February 24th, 2020, 10:57 am

TimB wrote:
February 24th, 2020, 9:07 am
I think that Robert Parker made a very bad service to wine when he introduced the concept of plateau of maturity followed by a decline. This leads to the idea that a wine declines, when it is the contrary that arrives, if the corks keep all their qualities.
Thank you for this perspective, in the last year I've had quite a few wines that were well beyond their drink by dates and found them to be exceptional and wondered if I was missing something by liking wines that were supposedly past their prime.

Have been eyeing one of the specific wines you mentioned that is available at retail with the intent to drink it on its 100th birthday, its looking even more tempting now...
Amen to that, François!
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Re: continuing the discussion on old wines

#18 Post by François Audouze » February 24th, 2020, 6:30 pm

Thank you for all the nice comments.
I drink wine since 1970 (when I bought a house which had a cellar, giving a motivation to fill it), and I drink old wines since 1975. I have a data base only since 2000 which means that I have no notes on 25 years of consumption of old wines.

Anyway, I have today notes on more than 16,000 wines.
Among them, I wanted to see what I have drunk from legendary millesimes. My choice of legendary years could be criticised, but it is not very important.
Here is what I have drunk from legendary years :

1900 (53), 1915 (35), 1928 (166), 1929 (208), 1934 (144), 1945 (158), 1947 (261), 1949 (171), 1955 (219), 1959 (315), 1961 (261), 1982 (230), 1989 (358), 1990 (514), 2000 (371), Total général (3464).
Average 230 wines per legendary year.

If I mention it, it is to say that for example I have drunk 261 wines of 1961 in this statistics since 2000. In 2000 1961 had 39 years, and it has now 59 years.
And I have still in my mind memory of 1961 that I drank from 1975 up to now, which means that I know the vintage 1961 when it had 14 years and when it has 59 years.

I have followed the evolution of all great vintages for a period which is not far from a half century. And I can say that I do not see any of these vintages declining. And for me it is extremely important. (of course the mortality increases with the age, but the intrinseque quality of still living wines does not decline).

And it has changed my vision on wine. When in 2003 I wrote a book on wine, I said that my preferred vintages were 1928 and 1929. And I wrote in the book that I could admit that in 15 years, the years 1945 and 1947 could be above 1928 and 1929. Because the 1928 and 1929 could become more tired when the 45 and 47 would gain in accomplishment.

And I must say today that 1928 and 1929 continue today to be glorious. And none of the legendary years declines.

I hope that you can understand what it means.

Of course, as for mortal persons, death exists, and more for old vintages than for young. But what is important is that with so many great wines drunk, I can say that the quality of a millesime does not decline. The quality of the 1900 continues to be at a top (of course accepting that some bottles, due to the corks can have problems).
And this applies for every great vintage.

For me 1961 is far from being at its top, even if many 1961 are spectacular. But before they have the Glory of 1928, they will need time.

And this vision changes completely what is generally considered. And it is why I try to create occasions to drink wines which deserve to be drunk before the death comes by the death of the cork.

And it explains why I want so much to convince amateurs to consider old wines in their passion. There is a treasure of old wines and this treasure must be drunk before it is too late.

I hope you understand why I want to let be known so much the idea that old wines have to be drunk.

Note : I do not forget that the success of an old wine depends on the way the bottle is opened. The method that I use makes miracles, and it explains also why I have a great ratio of great wines.
Kind regards

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Re: continuing the discussion on old wines

#19 Post by Karl K » February 24th, 2020, 8:29 pm

Francois, my number one hero in wine.
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Re: continuing the discussion on old wines

#20 Post by J.Vizuete » February 24th, 2020, 9:22 pm

Francois, what do you think about the evolution of very old but less heralded vintages? It is interesting to me to read the thread describing quite a few special 1981s (Krug, Haut Brion, La Mission, Montrose, Beaucastel, Rioja). What would you say about the “off” vintages of the 1920s and 30s (which are wholly unfamiliar to me)? Do they possess the same magical quality and timelessness you refer to? Merci d’avance, John
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Re: continuing the discussion on old wines

#21 Post by Gerhard P. » February 24th, 2020, 11:59 pm

François Audouze wrote:
February 24th, 2020, 8:54 am
Thank you for all your comments. It is always difficult to make métaphores.
My intimate conviction is that the wines which were well made will age as gloriously as the ancient wines.
It means that if a 1928 is glorious today, I do not see why a 1990 would not be as glorious when it is 92 years old, in 2082.

And I believe also that in some régions wines are better made than one century ago.

What makes a great wine is the addition of two factors : the way to make wine, and, ad min equal, the age.
Great wines are drunk absolutely too young, even if they are pleasant with a spontaneous fruit.

La Tâche of 3 years is a pure wonder. But La Tâche of 60 years is a marvel.
Dear François,

as you will know I generally agree with you - I myself prefer most wines with a certain age ...

>>What makes a great wine is the addition of two factors : the way to make wine, and, ad min equal, the age. <<

I would add at least two more factors:
- the origin/pedigree/terroir
- the vintage

I assume and I´m quite sure that you store and drink mostly wines from high quality origins, let´s say Bordeaux from Pauillac or Pomerol, not Bordeaux superieur, Romanée-St-Vivant/LA Tâche ... and rarely Hautes Cotes de Beaune ... Moulin-a-Vent and not Beaujolais Villages ...

2nd: you talked about great vintages like 1961, 1929 etc. ... not about 1965 or 1977 (except Port).

Neither wines from "simple" terroirs nor from mean vintages are IMHO meant to age for several decades ... after a certain point of maturity most won´t gain additional quality and interest - but simply lose fruit and getting worse. But even these simpler wines I prefer with a certain age, in these cases better 5 to 10 years. sometimes 15 years instead of only 2 years - but not 25+ years.

Last fall I opened a reknowned Bordeaux labelled 1975, only to find that it was faked, being the same wine (just as the capsule indicated) but from vintage 1977 ... although with a very good fill it certainly was better 20+ years ago ... but still drinkable ...
Many more examples ... and you know that I prepare my bottles carefully with enough airing time ...

But it has to be said that I had the pleasure to drink several old and exciting bottles with you ... and some of them are still highlights in my drinking history ... [cheers.gif] flirtysmile
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Re: continuing the discussion on old wines

#22 Post by Tom Blach » February 25th, 2020, 2:45 am

'I think that Robert Parker made a very bad service to wine when he introduced the concept of plateau of maturity followed by a decline.'
Absolutely, that is an often nonsensical notion, which is not to say that wines cannot be too old, for which cork failure is more often than not to blame.
There is a great difference, though, between old wines that taste young and old wines that taste old. The latter is a difficult taste to acquire but an even harder one to sustain because old wine very often tastes more than anything of old wine.

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Re: continuing the discussion on old wines

#23 Post by Andy Sc » February 25th, 2020, 4:54 am

François Audouze wrote:
February 24th, 2020, 6:30 pm

Note : I do not forget that the success of an old wine depends on the way the bottle is opened. The method that I use makes miracles, and it explains also why I have a great ratio of great wines.
Thanks for all the valuable insights Francois. Much appreciated.

Question: What is that special method you use to open bottles which works miracles?
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Re: continuing the discussion on old wines

#24 Post by A Songeur » February 25th, 2020, 5:16 am

Well, I suppose as always it depends on the wine. I remember a Haut Brion 1961 brought by a very generous neighbour that smelt like heaven and drank superbly... Not sure it will improve...but maybe it will.
I also remember a glass 1919 Graves superieures drank in Pages in January in Paris from a generous donator [scratch.gif] which had consumed all its sweetness and was very mushroomy... very much enjoyed... but how do you compare it to when it was a sweet wine?
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Re: continuing the discussion on old wines

#25 Post by D@vid Bu3ker » February 25th, 2020, 5:24 am

Tom Blach wrote:
February 25th, 2020, 2:45 am
because old wine very often tastes more than anything of old wine.
I excerpted that specific element from your post because I find a similarity in a lot of old wines. They pick up this element that I call "bottle sweetness." It's a similar taste across different types of wine. I see the same thing in Bordeaux, Burgundy, Barolo, Rioja, etc. (so it's not just a "B" thing). I adore it when I taste it, but it's not anything distinctive from the origin of the wine from what I can tell. It's some general development of good, old, red wine.

A tasting I was at last month that included 40-50 year old wines (all bought by the host on release) from multiple regions had multiple bottles that had developed that same note.
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Re: continuing the discussion on old wines

#26 Post by D@vid Bu3ker » February 25th, 2020, 5:26 am

Andy Sc wrote:
February 25th, 2020, 4:54 am
François Audouze wrote:
February 24th, 2020, 6:30 pm

Note : I do not forget that the success of an old wine depends on the way the bottle is opened. The method that I use makes miracles, and it explains also why I have a great ratio of great wines.
Thanks for all the valuable insights Francois. Much appreciated.

Question: What is that special method you use to open bottles which works miracles?
If he does not see your post, do a search for Audouze Method. It's sometimes referred to as slow-ox.
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Re: continuing the discussion on old wines

#27 Post by Andy Sc » February 25th, 2020, 6:33 am

D@vid Bu3ker wrote:
February 25th, 2020, 5:26 am
Andy Sc wrote:
February 25th, 2020, 4:54 am
François Audouze wrote:
February 24th, 2020, 6:30 pm

Note : I do not forget that the success of an old wine depends on the way the bottle is opened. The method that I use makes miracles, and it explains also why I have a great ratio of great wines.
Thanks for all the valuable insights Francois. Much appreciated.

Question: What is that special method you use to open bottles which works miracles?
If he does not see your post, do a search for Audouze Method. It's sometimes referred to as slow-ox.
Perfect, many thanks. Found it!
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Re: continuing the discussion on old wines

#28 Post by François Audouze » February 25th, 2020, 7:28 am

Answer to John : The small years create more problems than great years to provide great wines. But the differences are less significant for great wines.
For example a 1957 Latour will be more inspiring than what was promised when 1957 was put on the market.
But a small wine of 1957 will not make miracles even if there are exceptions.
Kind regards

François Audouze

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Re: continuing the discussion on old wines

#29 Post by Andrew M » February 25th, 2020, 8:28 am

A question for the board on storing old wines. At age 30 I have a somewhat unique opportunity to buy wines from the 50s and 60s through WineBid, Cellaraiders, Blacksmith, etc, and maybe be drinking 100+ year old wines in my retirement like our friend Francis. I’ve found lots of reasonably priced ‘66 BDX with positive feedback on CT indicating they could go the distance - just one example. I wonder if there’s anything special you can do to store these wines for the long haul. I have no intention of getting any bottles recorked but I worry about dry corks, low fill levels, and possible seepage in a relatively low-humidity cellar (45-50%). I’ve seen most people say that saran wrapping bottles would be a waste, even though intuitively id think that limiting exposure and air exchange, even wrapping just the neck of the bottle, might increase longevity. What say the board experts?
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Re: continuing the discussion on old wines

#30 Post by Markus S » February 25th, 2020, 8:35 am

François Audouze wrote:
February 25th, 2020, 7:28 am
Answer to John : The small years create more problems than great years to provide great wines. But the differences are less significant for great wines.
For example a 1957 Latour will be more inspiring than what was promised when 1957 was put on the market.
But a small wine of 1957 will not make miracles even if there are exceptions.
But then...why only drink the "great" wines (that we all know are great and hold no surprises)? Wouldn't if be more meaningful - if you were into really, really old wines - to seek out ALL wines to enjoy them in their golden years? For instance, where is that ethereal 50-year old verdicchio or 78-year Crozes Hermitage to wax rhapsodic about?
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Re: continuing the discussion on old wines

#31 Post by D@vid Bu3ker » February 25th, 2020, 8:38 am

Markus S wrote:
February 25th, 2020, 8:35 am
François Audouze wrote:
February 25th, 2020, 7:28 am
Answer to John : The small years create more problems than great years to provide great wines. But the differences are less significant for great wines.
For example a 1957 Latour will be more inspiring than what was promised when 1957 was put on the market.
But a small wine of 1957 will not make miracles even if there are exceptions.
But then...why only drink the "great" wines (that we all know are great and hold no surprises)? Wouldn't if be more meaningful - if you were into really, really old wines - to seek out ALL wines to enjoy them in their golden years? For instance, where is that ethereal 50-year old verdicchio or 78-year Crozes Hermitage to wax rhapsodic about?
There's probably much less of that around to begin with, as nobody kept them for aging. 50 year old Verdicchio is likely around due to forgetfulness, not intent.
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Re: continuing the discussion on old wines

#32 Post by Jürgen Steinke » February 25th, 2020, 8:54 am

Most wines are not produced for cellaring but for early consumption. That is a fact. Some wines get better with age. Especially when they emerge from a good vintage. The best wines from Bordeaux, Burgundy, Northern Rhone, Barolo and so forth come to mind. But what is better for me is worse for my neighbor.

I am in the camp of those who think: better a bit too young than too old. I am not an admirer of some oxidation in my wine. Others are more tolerant. I am not. And really old wine tend to develop some oxidation. Especially when not ideally stored during their entire life. Not to speak about the risk that corks get defective with time and so forth.

It is difficult to make statements but a top Pauillac can get better in its first 30 years of life. Beyond that – I am sceptic. With a few exceptions depending on the vintage (1986 i.e.).

I know that many people get a bit romantic when an old wine will be opened. Some may loose their objectivity. But age is not a quality per se. IMO.

BTW: Why do you come up every few years with this same topic, Francois? We did discuss this same issue several times already. Without coming to a consensus. I guess there will never be a uniform opinion in the field of taste.

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Re: continuing the discussion on old wines

#33 Post by François Audouze » February 25th, 2020, 10:04 am

Robert,
The year 1982 is just an indication which has not a specific value. Régions and wines age differently. It was just to give an idea.
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Re: continuing the discussion on old wines

#34 Post by François Audouze » February 25th, 2020, 10:11 am

Gerhard,
When I began to be interested in old wines, I had not no much money and I bought many wines in the small appellations and in the small years. And it has never bothered me.
As you say, a weak year will never attain the level of a great year, but if you know it, you can enjoy the wine for what it is. One day I opened a wine whose label said "Bourgogne". There is no lower appellation existing in Burgundy except "Vin de Table", but which cannot pretend to be named Burgundy. It was from 1928 and it was a very exciting surprise.

For the other comments, I agree with you.
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Re: continuing the discussion on old wines

#35 Post by François Audouze » February 25th, 2020, 10:17 am

David,
As it is your testimony, I respect it, but I think the contrary.
I was invited one day at Chateau Latour and we had a blind tasting of two wines, Lafite and Latour, presented for years like 1934, 1945 and 1949 if I remember well. And I think that I recognized every time which one was Lafite or Latour.
If these wines, as you say, would have the same taste, I would not have felt the difference.
And if you were right, I would have abandoned my passion, if the same taste was repeated.
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Re: continuing the discussion on old wines

#36 Post by François Audouze » February 25th, 2020, 10:22 am

Andrew,
Mortality exists in my cellar. I am against recorking except in very specific occasions.
My way of thinking is : if you think that a bottle begins to lose wine, then drink it.
A way to keep bottles longer is to wax the top. It is not so easy to do.
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Re: continuing the discussion on old wines

#37 Post by D@vid Bu3ker » February 25th, 2020, 10:59 am

François Audouze wrote:
February 25th, 2020, 10:17 am
David,
As it is your testimony, I respect it, but I think the contrary.
I was invited one day at Chateau Latour and we had a blind tasting of two wines, Lafite and Latour, presented for years like 1934, 1945 and 1949 if I remember well. And I think that I recognized every time which one was Lafite or Latour.
If these wines, as you say, would have the same taste, I would not have felt the difference.
And if you were right, I would have abandoned my passion, if the same taste was repeated.
François,

I do not think the old wine sweetness is all that is there, but it is often a common element.

Trust me, if all older wines tasted exactly the same, I would always buy the cheapest one!!
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Re: continuing the discussion on old wines

#38 Post by François Audouze » February 25th, 2020, 11:53 am

It is sometimes said that I drink only « label wines » which is not the case. For the fun I made a list of wines from 1900 to 1948 which are not “label wines”, sometimes because they have no label, no year indicated, or because the producer or the negociant do not belong to the ones which chased by amateurs. It you are interested, read this list because it shows that I took the risk to explore the unknown or the non-hype. It is ranked per year and the sign # means estimated. What is put for each wine is what I could read :

Château Grand Puy Ducasse 1900 - Château La Louvière 1900 - Domaine de Pougnon 1900 - Tertre d'Augay 1900 - Saint Julien Clos St Albert 1900 - Château La Tour de Mons Margaux 1900 - Barolo Nebbiolo 1900 - Château illisible (probable Beychevelle) vers 1900 # - Bourgogne très vieux vers 1900 # - Chambertin (mis en bouteille en 1906) producteur inconnu 1904 - Chambertin ?? 1904 - Vin inconnu (Pauillac ?) 1904 - « old Burgundy 1870 to 1920 » Maison Jadot - 1904 # - Château Bahans Haut-Brion 1907 -

supposé Château Margaux vers 1910 - Vin des Côtes 1911 - Château Lanessan Haut-Médoc 1911 - Corton H. Cerf Père & Fils à Nuits 1911 - Mazoyères-Chambertin M. Chevillot # 1911 # - Château Toumalin Canon Fronsac - 1912 - Le Jura, Saint-émilion Réserve Caves Calon 1913 - Château Moulin Riche 1914 - Chambertin Giraux 1915 - Clos de Vougeot Geisweiller 1915 - Clos Vougeot Nicolas 1915 - Nuits Cailles Morin 1915 - Chambolle Musigny dom ? 1915 - Poulsard Bourdy 1915 - Bonnes-Mares, Charles Bernard 1915 - Romanée Saint-Vivant Gaudemet-Chanut 1915 - Corton domaine inconnu 1915 - Clos de la Perrière Fixin premier cru 1915 # - Savigny les Beaune Fromageot Langlais 1915 # - Château Durfort-Vivens 1916 - Château Cantemerle - 1918 - Dom Berenguer Solera De Muller Priorat grenache 1918 - Clos Vougeot Meunier 1918 - Gevrey Chambertin 1919 - Gevrey Chambertin Ménétrier 1919 - Nuits Saint Georges Moillard 1919 - Saint Emilion Réserve des caves Courtiol 1919 - Chambertin ? 1919 # -

vin rouge probable Languedoc 1920 - Domaine de la Trappe Vin rouge d'Algérie 1920 - Clos Papal Châteauneuf-du-Pape 1920 # - Château Croque Michotte Saint Emilion 1921 - Saint-Péray sec Milliand et Mayoux 1921 - Franc Clos des Jacobins 1921 - Clos-Batailley, Bounin Propriétaire à Targon 1921 - Château d’Egmont Ludon en magnum 1922 - Hermitage Salavert Frères 1922 - Grands Echézeaux Nicolas 1923 - Pommard Marius Meulien 1923 - Bourgogne - nom inconnu - Chambertin ? 1923 - Pommard 1923 - Royal Kebir, vin d’Algérie 1923 - Beaujolais Tête 1923 - Chambertin Côtes Saint-Jacques vigneron inconnu 1923 - Gevrey Chambertin P Misserey 1923 - Châteauneuf du Pape Isnard - 1924 - Clos des Jacobins, Saint Emilion - 1924 - Magnum de Château Grand Lambert, Veuve Blanchet Ména, Pauillac 1924 - Château d'Arsac Margaux 1925 - Nuits Saint Georges les Vaucrains Michelot Prop. 1926 - Pommard Epenots Colomb Maréchal 1926 - Château Corbin Michotte Saint Emilion 1926 - Château les grands Rosiers Pauillac 1926 - "BAGES" Pauillac, Montré & Cie 1926 - Chambolle Musigny Albert Brenot 1926 - Pommard "les Charmots" Léon Violland 1926 - Nuits-Saint-Georges Van der Meullen 1926 - Nuits Saint Georges Ligeret 1926 # - Châteauneuf du Pape Clos du Calvaire 1927 - Château Desmirail Margaux 1928 - Château Junayme 1928 - Château Lagrange - 1928 - Morey Saint Denis Chauvenet et Fils 1928 - Côtes d'Agly Roussillon hôtel Claridge 1928 - Beaune Camille Giraud 1928 - Rilly rouge 1928 - Volnay Cuvée Blondeau Hospices de Beaune 1928 - Château Pibran 1928 - Clos Vougeot Paul Dargent 1928 - Château Pailhas Saint-Emilion 1928 - Clos des Grandes Murailles (ancien Clos des Moines) Saint-émilion Commandant Malen propriétaire 1928 - Beaune Theurons Vincent Frères 1928 - Château Cos-Labory Saint-Estèphe 1928 - Charmes-Chambertin L. Gauthier 1928 - Châteauneuf-du-Pape Chartron 1928 - Cune Rioja clarete 1928 - Santenay Gravières Jessiaume Père & Fils 1928 - Beaune Marconnets Nicolas 1929 - Beaune Masson 1929 - Chambertin Clos de Bèze Corcol 1929 - Château Bouscaut en magnum 1929 - Château Chauvin Saint Emilion 1929 - Château du Peyrat Capian 1929 - Château Fanning La Fontaine 1929 - Côte Rôtie Paul Etienne 1929 - Saint-Nicolas de Bourgueil Nicolas 1929 - Santenay Louis Grivot 1929 - Château Haut-Bages Averous 1929 - Corton L. Soualle et E. De Bailliencourt 1929 - Château Gadet Médoc 1929 - Fleurie Domaine Poncié 1929 - Richebourg provenance inconnue 1929 - Corton "cuvée B" Brossaud 1929 - Cahors Clos de Gamot (Jouffreau) 1929 - Pommard " Grand vin d'origine " 1929 - Juliénas caves Nicolas 1929 - Château Puyblanquet Saint-Emilion 1929 - Clos Vougeot (Arnoux) 1929 - Clos Vougeot (Boyer) 1929 - Château La Haye Saint-Estèphe 1929 - Corton, Emile Chandessais, négociant à Fontaines, près Mercurey 1929 - Nuits-Saint-Georges Paul Destrée et Fils 1929 - Musigny 1929 -

Bouzy rouge Veuve Clicquot Ponsardin années 1930 - vin inconnu sans étiquette année inconnue 1930 # - Savigny « les Vergelesses » cuvée Fouquerand Hospices de Beaune 1931 - Volnay Camille Giroud 1933 - Gevrey Chambertin Marius Meulien 1933 - Châteauneuf-du-Pape J. Mommessin 1933 Chateau de Bensse Médoc 1933 - Pommard Beault Forgeot 1934 - Château Haut-Bages Averous 1934 - Fixin Clos du Chapitre Morin & Fils 1934 - Beaune Duvergey Taboureau 1934 - Château Petit Gravet Saint-émilion 1934 - Vosne Romanée producteur inconnu 1934 - Beaune, B. Chemardin négociant 1934 - Pomerol mise de Luze 1934 - Moulins de Calon Médoc 1934 - Chambolle Musigny Pasquier-Desvignes 1934 - Château La Rose Anseillan contigu Lafite Pauillac 1934 - Chambolle Musigny A. R. Barrière frères 1934 - Bourgogne Réserve de la Chèvre Noire Charles d’Aubigney 1934 - Charmes Chambertin Corcol - 1935 - Fleurie Chanson Père et Fils 1935 - Frédéric Lung Alger 1935 - Moulin à Vent Chanson Père et Fils 1935 - Gevrey-Chambertin 1er Cru « La Combe aux Moines » Domaine Faiveley 1935 - Gevrey Chambertin La Combe aux Moines 1935 - Barolo Cappellano 1935 - Côtes de Provence Domaine de Saint Martin - 1936 - Château Bensse Médoc 1936 - Corton Calvet - 1937 - Gevrey Chambertin Tramier et Fils 1937 - Pommard Rugiens Terrand 1937 - Château La Rose Anseillan 1937 - Nuits Saint Georges Jaboulet Vercherre 1937 - Richebourg "vieux ceps" H. Jaboulet Vercherre 1937 - Vin rouge de Vertus Pierre Péters 1937 - Château La Louvière 1ères Graves Léognan Daniel Sanders rouge 1937 - Barolo Borgogno Riserva 1937 - Volnay Pierre Léger 1937 - Frédéric Lung, vin d’Algérie 1938 - Vin du Château Katsunuma Japon 1938 - Royal Kebir Algérie 1938 - Sénéclauze Vin Fin rouge d’Algérie présumé 1939 -

Côtes du Jura Louis Cartier rouge 1940 # - Arbois Pupillin rouge Louis Cartier 1940 # - Mercurey Château de Chamirey 1er grand cru années 1940 # - Cahors, Caors Rolland et Cie 1942 - Château Trottevieille 1943 - Sables Saint-Emilion 1943 - Château Pontet-Clauzure, saint-émilion 1943 - Fleurie 1943 - Château Roudier, Montagne Saint-Émilion Roudier 1943 - Moulin-à-Vent Patriarche 1943 - Fleurie Girodit-Henry 1943 - Vosne Romanée E & D Moingeon Frères 1943 # - Châteauneuf du Pape Louis Max 1945 - Moulin à Vent Thomas Bassot 1945 - Château Lafitte Camblanes Premières Côtes de Bordeaux 1945 - Château Larcis Ducasse 1945 - Vosne Romanée Réserve Reine Pédauque 1945 - Château La Pointe 1945 - Osmara Dom. De Feudeck, Comte Hubert d'Hespel Prop. à Jemmapes (Algérie) 1945 - Volnay Champy P&F 1945 - Hermitage E. Vérilhac 1945 - Château Saint-Julien, Saint-Emilion 1945 - Nuits-Saint-Georges François Gilles 1945 - Château Crusquet Premières Côtes de Blaye 1945 - Sidi Brahim Vigna rouge Algérie 1945 - Barolo Fontanafredda 1945 - Bourgogne inconnu 1945 # - Bourgueil Domaine P. Marchand 1946 - Sillery rouge de Pommery 1946 - Fleurie Clos de la Roilette Maurice Crozet 1946 - Châteauneuf-du-Pape Clos de la Petite Gardiole 1946 - Bourgueil André Lafoy - 1947 - Château Houissant Saint Estèphe - 1947 - Château Matras 1947 - Château Tertre d’Augay Saint Emilion - 1947 - Royal Kebir Frédéric Lung Alger 1947 - Bourgogne grande réserve Comte A. De la Rochefoucauld 1947 - Clos des Jacobins 1947 - Vray Canon Boyer Canon Fronsac 1947 - Gevrey Chambertin Jantot 1947 - Moulin à Vent Genard 1947 - Château Petit Faurie de Soutard 1947 - Pommard Refène Domaine Charles Gitraud 1947 - Monthélie 1947 - Côtes du Jura rouge Jean Bourdy 1947 - Chambolle-Musigny Les Vins Fins 1947 - Châteauneuf du Pape Sélection de la réserve des Chartes 1947 - Vray Canon Boyer Vacher 1947 - Côtes de Beaune Villages Champy Père et Fils 1947 - Vosne-Romanée Lausson négociant 1947 - Pommard F.de Marguery 1947 - Vosne Romanée Calvet 1947 - Aloxe-Corton Rémi de Foulanges 1947 - Château Fonplégade Saint-Émilion 1947 - Châteauneuf-du-Pape Emile Costes "Vins en Gros" à Nanterre 1947 - Gevrey-Chambertin R.Vinzent négociant 1947 - Moulin à Vent Genève Frères à Macon 1947 - Château La Perrière, Lussac Saint-Emilion 1947 - Vosne Romanée Van der Meullen 1947 - Côtes de Nuits vigneron inconnu 1947 - Cornas Chante Perdrix Audibert et Delas 1947 - Juliénas Antonin Rodet 1947 - Châteauneuf-du-Pape Emile Costes négociant 1947 - Moulin à Vent René Guyenet 1947 - Château Fougueyrat Saint Emilion 1947 - Chambolle-Musigny A. Rossigneux & Fils 1947 - Gevrey Chambertin Maison P. Jorrot 1947 - Châteauneuf du Pape David & Foillard 1947 - Pommard Pierre Hugot négociant 1947 - Saint-Amour supposé 1947 - Château Belgrave Haut-Médoc 1948.

When I explored wines which were not known to me, it was generally in greater years.
Kind regards

François Audouze

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Re: continuing the discussion on old wines

#39 Post by Jayson Cohen » February 25th, 2020, 4:03 pm

François Audouze wrote:
February 24th, 2020, 6:30 pm
Thank you for all the nice comments.
I drink wine since 1970 (when I bought a house which had a cellar, giving a motivation to fill it), and I drink old wines since 1975. I have a data base only since 2000 which means that I have no notes on 25 years of consumption of old wines.

Anyway, I have today notes on more than 16,000 wines.
Among them, I wanted to see what I have drunk from legendary millesimes. My choice of legendary years could be criticised, but it is not very important.
Here is what I have drunk from legendary years :

1900 (53), 1915 (35), 1928 (166), 1929 (208), 1934 (144), 1945 (158), 1947 (261), 1949 (171), 1955 (219), 1959 (315), 1961 (261), 1982 (230), 1989 (358), 1990 (514), 2000 (371), Total général (3464).
Average 230 wines per legendary year.

If I mention it, it is to say that for example I have drunk 261 wines of 1961 in this statistics since 2000. In 2000 1961 had 39 years, and it has now 59 years.
And I have still in my mind memory of 1961 that I drank from 1975 up to now, which means that I know the vintage 1961 when it had 14 years and when it has 59 years.

I have followed the evolution of all great vintages for a period which is not far from a half century. And I can say that I do not see any of these vintages declining. And for me it is extremely important. (of course the mortality increases with the age, but the intrinseque quality of still living wines does not decline).

And it has changed my vision on wine. When in 2003 I wrote a book on wine, I said that my preferred vintages were 1928 and 1929. And I wrote in the book that I could admit that in 15 years, the years 1945 and 1947 could be above 1928 and 1929. Because the 1928 and 1929 could become more tired when the 45 and 47 would gain in accomplishment.

And I must say today that 1928 and 1929 continue today to be glorious. And none of the legendary years declines.

I hope that you can understand what it means.

Of course, as for mortal persons, death exists, and more for old vintages than for young. But what is important is that with so many great wines drunk, I can say that the quality of a millesime does not decline. The quality of the 1900 continues to be at a top (of course accepting that some bottles, due to the corks can have problems).
And this applies for every great vintage.

For me 1961 is far from being at its top, even if many 1961 are spectacular. But before they have the Glory of 1928, they will need time.

And this vision changes completely what is generally considered. And it is why I try to create occasions to drink wines which deserve to be drunk before the death comes by the death of the cork.

And it explains why I want so much to convince amateurs to consider old wines in their passion. There is a treasure of old wines and this treasure must be drunk before it is too late.

I hope you understand why I want to let be known so much the idea that old wines have to be drunk.

Note : I do not forget that the success of an old wine depends on the way the bottle is opened. The method that I use makes miracles, and it explains also why I have a great ratio of great wines.
I am a real believer in older wines. I also experience (at a much lower volume than you) that bottles that are intact that are 50-100 years old are not only ethereal but clearly able to improve and both have the complexity of age and the freshness of youth.

I think it’s worth qualifying your list of great years, however, and maybe you typically do that. As a set, these years are only generally considered great years in red Bordeaux, maybe even only Left Bank Bordeaux as a set — here I’m thinking of ‘64 Right Bank for example, so there could be some nuances even in Bordeaux. (I’m also not sure I’d put 2000 there, at least not yet. And I might put a couple others and also expect a couple others to ascend in time.)

If I listed the great years in Rioja or red Burgundy (or Champagne or Vouvray), for example, it’s a different set.

In any case, Cheers(!) to another defense of old wine and aging wine.

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Re: continuing the discussion on old wines

#40 Post by HoosJustinG » February 25th, 2020, 6:07 pm

You know, it's funny I was just lamenting the fact that I never get an opportunity to practice my French (I had native fluency when I was 18 ... at 33 I can get by). I hereby accept your generous invitation to come to France and have you demonstrate that these old wines are better than young wines!
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Re: continuing the discussion on old wines

#41 Post by François Audouze » February 25th, 2020, 8:42 pm

HoosJustinG,
No problem. I have created the Academy for Ancient Wines and we make two meetings per year with a format of around 30 people sharing around 45 wines. We are split in three groups, so everyone can taste 15 old wines brought by the participants.
You can read the rules there :

http://www.academiedesvinsanciens.org/r ... mbre-2019/

It is in French but you will see how it works for participants who provide no wine.
Kind regards

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Re: continuing the discussion on old wines

#42 Post by François Audouze » February 25th, 2020, 8:45 pm

Jayson,
Thank you for your message which goes in the same direction as mine.
I wanted to show that I have a certain experience of great years. i chose the general great years for Bordeaux. It would have been too complex to split the figures per region. It was just an indication.
Kind regards

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Re: continuing the discussion on old wines

#43 Post by Karl K » February 26th, 2020, 3:53 am

I actually have a bottle of 1915 Bourdy.

How was it when you tried it?
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Re: continuing the discussion on old wines

#44 Post by Mark Golodetz » February 26th, 2020, 5:01 am

François Audouze wrote:
February 25th, 2020, 8:42 pm
HoosJustinG,
No problem. I have created the Academy for Ancient Wines and we make two meetings per year with a format of around 30 people sharing around 45 wines. We are split in three groups, so everyone can taste 15 old wines brought by the participants.
You can read the rules there :

http://www.academiedesvinsanciens.org/r ... mbre-2019/

It is in French but you will see how it works for participants who provide no wine.
Do you know when your next one is? I cannot make it, but a close friend, who has a cellar of older wines, and is frequently in Paris, would be interested.
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Re: continuing the discussion on old wines

#45 Post by Gerhard P. » February 26th, 2020, 9:44 am

François Audouze wrote:
February 25th, 2020, 10:11 am
Gerhard,
When I began to be interested in old wines, I had not no much money and I bought many wines in the small appellations and in the small years. And it has never bothered me.
As you say, a weak year will never attain the level of a great year, but if you know it, you can enjoy the wine for what it is. One day I opened a wine whose label said "Bourgogne". There is no lower appellation existing in Burgundy except "Vin de Table", but which cannot pretend to be named Burgundy. It was from 1928 and it was a very exciting surprise.

For the other comments, I agree with you.

François,
when it was a 1928 "Bourgogne" (I assume by a negociant) then that was several years before any AOC - so we will never know what was in that bottle. I doubt that it was a simple generic wine outside any Village-AC we know today. Most probably it was at least a Village wine, probably a blend from several Villages ... and quite possibly also from vineyards classified as 1er crus today. In those days the simples wines were rarely bottled at all, but sold and shipped in wood ...
But you are right insofar as also simple wines "made in the old style" can age ....

Taking 1957 (my vintage) I had a bottle of Poujeaux (granted, outstanding fill) that was almost on par with Lafite ... "almost" because Poujeaux faded more quickly ... and Lafite (despite a less good fill) showed more complexity at the end.
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Re: continuing the discussion on old wines

#46 Post by François Audouze » February 26th, 2020, 7:55 pm

Karl,
The 1915 Bourdy was excellent. I love this year.

Mark,
I do not know yet. It could be end of May. It will be put on my blog when know it.

Gerhard,
One day, there was a vertical tasting of Lynch Bages, with Something like 25 or 30 vintages. And there was a flight with the fifties. The experts in wine named 1959 and 1955 as the best but I interrupted them and said : for me the 1957 is the best. They looked at me as if I were a bas taster but they tasted again and came to the same conclusion. Often, experts want to find in the wines what they expect of their knowledge of climate conditions.

I have drunk 62 wines of 1957 including 9 of DRC among which a Jeroboam of La Tâche which was amazingly great.
Kind regards

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Re: continuing the discussion on old wines

#47 Post by Gerhard P. » February 27th, 2020, 12:56 am

François Audouze wrote:
February 26th, 2020, 7:55 pm
..

I have drunk 62 wines of 1957 including 9 of DRC among which a Jeroboam of La Tâche which was amazingly great.
François,

I´ve had not 62, but 25-30 different 1957s, and Lynch-Bages was indeed very good (but not great). It so much depends on the specific bottle and its condition.
Bernard Noblet opened a ´57 Echezeaux for us, I assume simply by accident - I don´t think he knew my vintage, but wasn´t it his, too? It was outstanding, but could have benefitted from more airing time.

I also had a ´57 RC (17 years ago, when it was slightly more affordable than today), but it wasn´t a really shattering experience, rather an excellent wine.
1957 is not a bad vintage, neither a great one, but there are some fine bottles ...
1957 Hermitage Sizeranne/Chapoutier isn´t bad either ...
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Brady Daniels
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Re: continuing the discussion on old wines

#48 Post by Brady Daniels » February 27th, 2020, 9:05 am

A quick aside -

For those who are put off by Francois’ use of the word “amateur,” think of it as lover, meaning one who is truly passionate about wine, in this context. It is it a level beyond mere appreciation, more akin to geekdom. The French do not mean this word in the pejorative way some English speakers do.

If you tell a French winemaker you are an amateur de vin, they’ll understand that you didn’t just trundle up to their door because you were in the area and the tourist guides suggested a winery visit.
-Brady D on CT - Omnivinovore

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Markus S
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Re: continuing the discussion on old wines

#49 Post by Markus S » February 27th, 2020, 11:18 am

Brady Daniels wrote:
February 27th, 2020, 9:05 am
For those who are put off by Francois’ use of the word “amateur,”...
Not put off by that, only by Francois thinking that you can only start drinking wines at 50+ years of age. If I had that kind of thinking I never would have gotten into wine in the first place because I still couldn't drink wines purchased in the 1980's.
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Brady Daniels
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Re: continuing the discussion on old wines

#50 Post by Brady Daniels » February 27th, 2020, 11:36 am

Markus S wrote:
February 27th, 2020, 11:18 am

Not put off by that, only by Francois thinking that you can only start drinking wines at 50+ years of age. If I had that kind of thinking I never would have gotten into wine in the first place because I still couldn't drink wines purchased in the 1980's.
I don’t think he’s making that claim at all, rather he’s just debunking the whole maturity curve POV. Yes, he’s saying that for him 1961 will keep getting better, but that’s different than saying you have to wait fifty years.

I don’t collect first growths or DRC, so I’m not sure how much Francois's results apply to me, but it’s an interesting perspective. I already raised my eyebrows when CT notes tell me to “drink up” my 2002 burgs, but now the brow-arch will be just a bit steeper.
-Brady D on CT - Omnivinovore

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