Wine seepage in transit- 1972 stag's leap- overnight priority ship

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Wine seepage in transit- 1972 stag's leap- overnight priority ship

#1 Post by Sarah S »

I apologize if I'm asking a previously answered question, but I've looked up seepage during shipping for more information and the posts I have seen generally deal with wine that was shipped ground, to a wrong address, etc., and none of that applies here.

On 9/7 I won an auction at a reputable retailer for three bottles of 1972 Stag's Leap. The description listed 2 of 3 bottles with depressed corks but none with signs of seepage. I was super excited about these bottles, as 1972 is my birth year, and waited until this Monday to put in the shipping request because I did not want to risk anything happening to them in transit. I shipped Fedex overnight priority and the order went out Wednesday. I received text notification at 10:09 am Thursday that the wines had arrived, and an hour later I was home with my wine. When I went to unbox the wine I noticed seepage from all three bottles onto the cardboard shipping trays.

I have never had any issues buying auction wines from this retailer and they really are my go-to. I REALLY want the wine, provided that it is ok- no idea where I will find anther 1972 Stag's Leap. But...is it ok? From what I have read the answer is "probably, as long as you drink it right away." My intent was that this would be a wine to drink on my 50th bday, in August 2022.

Not sure what to do here. Send it back? Contact the retailer? Photos of where the wine bottles sat in the tray and the seepage are attached.

Hoping someone will say "it will be fine; don't worry," but I find this to be unlikely. :(

Thanks in advance!
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Re: Wine seepage in transit- 1972 stag's leap- overnight priority ship

#2 Post by B. Buzzini »

Are there any signs of seepage on the bottles themselves? The stains could be from other wines shipped prior, as a reused shipper?
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Re: Wine seepage in transit- 1972 stag's leap- overnight priority ship

#3 Post by John Morris »

What was the temperature like the days it was in transit? This month, it should have been pretty safe.

Personally, I wouldn't freak out, but I might open that bottle sooner rather than later.
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Re: Wine seepage in transit- 1972 stag's leap- overnight priority ship

#4 Post by Denny Marin »

Looks like old stains from a recycled shipper. Happens pretty often, as shippers tend to be used over and over again in many instances. If the bottles or labels don't have signs of seepage I'd say you are fine.

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Re: Wine seepage in transit- 1972 stag's leap- overnight priority ship

#5 Post by Sarah S »

Thanks everyone. Labels look fine but wine was shipped on its side, not upright. The stains were actually wet, and only under the three Stag's Leap (out of 12 bottles shipped total.) Temperature was fine- 60s overnight in Menlo Park, 50s in Memphis, 50's in VA In the morning.
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Re: Wine seepage in transit- 1972 stag's leap- overnight priority ship

#6 Post by D@vid Bu3ker »

Old corks can seep without heat. Happens, especially if they have been moved around after a long time asleep.
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Re: Wine seepage in transit- 1972 stag's leap- overnight priority ship

#7 Post by Brian G r a f s t r o m »

With those temperatures, I wouldn't worry. It's probably what David said.
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Re: Wine seepage in transit- 1972 stag's leap- overnight priority ship

#8 Post by Sarah S »

D@vid Bu3ker wrote: October 30th, 2020, 9:29 am Old corks can seep without heat. Happens, especially if they have been moved around after a long time asleep.
Thanks David and Brian- does this mean that I might be ok to hold them for another 2 years, give or take?

I might just open one tomorrow anyway, with hopes of a "treat." [cheers.gif]
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Re: Wine seepage in transit- 1972 stag's leap- overnight priority ship

#9 Post by D@vid Bu3ker »

Sarah S wrote: October 30th, 2020, 10:00 am
D@vid Bu3ker wrote: October 30th, 2020, 9:29 am Old corks can seep without heat. Happens, especially if they have been moved around after a long time asleep.
Thanks David and Brian- does this mean that I might be ok to hold them for another 2 years, give or take?

I might just open one tomorrow anyway, with hopes of a "treat." [cheers.gif]
50 year old bottles are a bit of a crap shoot no matter what. I would open one to see what their condition is (i.e. there are no good, old wines, just good, old bottles), and then decide. If your test bottle is good, then it seems like it would be OK to wait for that 50 year mark. Really no way to be certain bottle to bottle.
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Re: Wine seepage in transit- 1972 stag's leap- overnight priority ship

#10 Post by mattcitrang »

Good idea to try one. That will give you the opportunities to test the wine, inspect the cork ans see if the seeping is new or if it has been seeping for some time.

I would place them in my cellar standing for 2 or 3 days.

Then place them on their side and see if they continue to leak.

Keep searching for more 1972 vintage bottles.

I keep looking for that vintage also. I got married that year.

Good luck.
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Re: Wine seepage in transit- 1972 stag's leap- overnight priority ship

#11 Post by Brian G r a f s t r o m »

Sarah S wrote: October 30th, 2020, 10:00 am
D@vid Bu3ker wrote: October 30th, 2020, 9:29 am Old corks can seep without heat. Happens, especially if they have been moved around after a long time asleep.
Thanks David and Brian- does this mean that I might be ok to hold them for another 2 years, give or take?

I might just open one tomorrow anyway, with hopes of a "treat." [cheers.gif]
I wouldn't do anything different with them now than what you were originally planning to do with them. If you decide to open one "now," I'd suggest waiting a couple weeks to let the wine settle from shipping.
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Re: Wine seepage in transit- 1972 stag's leap- overnight priority ship

#12 Post by Richard Albert »

I would notify the shop that there was seepage in shipping ASAP. The fact that they leaked means there is not a tight cork seal, not heat forcing a leak in this case. I have had weak cork wines shipped on their sides leak, not good especially with a couple more years of cellaring. If in their sideways sloshing about, air got past the corks, also not good.
What are the fill levels?
I would try one in a couple of days. If not good, return them. If it is good, then it is your call to cellar them.
BTY, 1972 was a much better year for people than Napa Cabs.
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Re: Wine seepage in transit- 1972 stag's leap- overnight priority ship

#13 Post by c fu »

Richard Albert wrote: October 30th, 2020, 12:21 pm I would notify the shop that there was seepage in shipping ASAP. The fact that they leaked means there is not a tight cork seal, not heat forcing a leak in this case. I have had weak cork wines shipped on their sides leak, not good especially with a couple more years of cellaring. If in their sideways sloshing about, air got past the corks, also not good.
What are the fill levels?
I would try one in a couple of days. If not good, return them. If it is good, then it is your call to cellar them.
BTY, 1972 was a much better year for people than Napa Cabs.
I’m with Richard. I immediately thought weak/thin cork.

I’ve only had a small small handful out of many older Napa cabs (60s/70s) and when opened the cork integrity was not sound and they were generally not in great shape
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Re: Wine seepage in transit- 1972 stag's leap- overnight priority ship

#14 Post by Sarah S »

Richard Albert wrote: October 30th, 2020, 12:21 pm I would notify the shop that there was seepage in shipping ASAP. The fact that they leaked means there is not a tight cork seal, not heat forcing a leak in this case. I have had weak cork wines shipped on their sides leak, not good especially with a couple more years of cellaring. If in their sideways sloshing about, air got past the corks, also not good.
What are the fill levels?
I would try one in a couple of days. If not good, return them. If it is good, then it is your call to cellar them.
BTY, 1972 was a much better year for people than Napa Cabs.
I'll shoot them an email. Thanks. :)

Fill level for one is base of neck; the other two are top shoulder. (FWIW the ones with depressed corks are top shoulder.)

I don't expect an outstanding wine from a 1972 Cab, but I *am* hoping it is interesting and drinkable. My backup is the 1972 Xavier Vignon (also not expecting an outstanding wine, but also interesting and drinkable) and a 2012 SQN Touché (probably too young, but who doesn't want skulls on their 50th birthday wine? Plus, even though a pre-teen, it should be delicious.)
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Re: Wine seepage in transit- 1972 stag's leap- overnight priority ship

#15 Post by Sarah S »

c fu wrote: October 30th, 2020, 12:55 pm
I’m with Richard. I immediately thought weak/thin cork.

I’ve only had a small small handful out of many older Napa cabs (60s/70s) and when opened the cork integrity was not sound and they were generally not in great shape

Thanks- I definitely plan to use the Durand on these!
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Re: Wine seepage in transit- 1972 stag's leap- overnight priority ship

#16 Post by Glen Gold »

Sarah S wrote: October 30th, 2020, 1:37 pm
c fu wrote: October 30th, 2020, 12:55 pm
I’m with Richard. I immediately thought weak/thin cork.

I’ve only had a small small handful out of many older Napa cabs (60s/70s) and when opened the cork integrity was not sound and they were generally not in great shape

Thanks- I definitely plan to use the Durand on these!
That should work. If it doesn't (I've had some 1970s California cabs where the screw of the Durand shredded the cork), keep a bleach-free coffee filter and a cone handy. Not ideal, but it will work.
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Re: Wine seepage in transit- 1972 stag's leap- overnight priority ship

#17 Post by Sarah S »

Glen Gold wrote: October 30th, 2020, 2:42 pm
Sarah S wrote: October 30th, 2020, 1:37 pm
c fu wrote: October 30th, 2020, 12:55 pm
I’m with Richard. I immediately thought weak/thin cork.

I’ve only had a small small handful out of many older Napa cabs (60s/70s) and when opened the cork integrity was not sound and they were generally not in great shape

Thanks- I definitely plan to use the Durand on these!
That should work. If it doesn't (I've had some 1970s California cabs where the screw of the Durand shredded the cork), keep a bleach-free coffee filter and a cone handy. Not ideal, but it will work.
I will definitely do that. Thanks!
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Re: Wine seepage in transit- 1972 stag's leap- overnight priority ship

#18 Post by Mark Golodetz »

A couple of thoughts.
I am sorry to say I am less optimistic than the others. It did not take much for the wine to start seeping (if they were really ill treated the other bottles would have also had problems). The cork is not a tight fit, and who is to know if the bottles had seepage issues and it was missed by the auction house. There are reasons why I avoid seepage bottles, at best they show a little older than their peers, at worst...

Rather than just sending an e mail, I would call BEFORE opening the wine, even asking their permission and follow it up with a confirmation e mail. I suspect they will offer to refund your money.

You did everything right, shipping overnight was the best option, particularly for a wine you really wanted.
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Re: Wine seepage in transit- 1972 stag's leap- overnight priority ship

#19 Post by Chuck Miller »

If you keep them until 2022 as you plan, I would store upright and would also tightly cover the top of the bottle with something like stretch wrap and a rubber band to minimize air exchange due to a potential poor seal.
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Re: Wine seepage in transit- 1972 stag's leap- overnight priority ship

#20 Post by Eric Ifune »

1972 corks cannot be uniformly relied upon. They're a gamble from the beginning. If the wines mean that much to you, keep them and use as planned. Just have backups available. You'll be hard pressed to find other 1972's.

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Re: Wine seepage in transit- 1972 stag's leap- overnight priority ship

#21 Post by Richard Albert »

The fills are acceptable for the age of the bottles, but the leakage is the concern.
Hopefully there is no issue returning them since they leaked in transit.
You need to try a low fill bottle. I will be curious to know if the cork is desiccated with the top of the cork shrunken and the bottom having maintained a fragile seal due to contact with the wine. Sideways sloshing can break that seal just enough for minor seepage. Let the sharp tip of the Durand dig in without much downward pressure is my suggestion.
Good luck.
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Re: Wine seepage in transit- 1972 stag's leap- overnight priority ship

#22 Post by Sarah S »

Mark Golodetz wrote: October 30th, 2020, 3:03 pm A couple of thoughts.
I am sorry to say I am less optimistic than the others. It did not take much for the wine to start seeping (if they were really ill treated the other bottles would have also had problems). The cork is not a tight fit, and who is to know if the bottles had seepage issues and it was missed by the auction house. There are reasons why I avoid seepage bottles, at best they show a little older than their peers, at worst...

Rather than just sending an e mail, I would call BEFORE opening the wine, even asking their permission and follow it up with a confirmation e mail. I suspect they will offer to refund your money.

You did everything right, shipping overnight was the best option, particularly for a wine you really wanted.
Thanks, Mark. Yeah, I have always passed on bottled with any “signs of past seepage.” The information I had was as follows:

Provenance: Purchased on release from reputable sources and stored in the home cellar of a SF Bay Area based collector. Hand delivered to ***
Label condition: One bottle lightly scuffed label; Two bottles lightly bin soiled label
Cork condition: Two bottles depressed cork

I always ship overnight priority (arrive by 1030am.) Calling them before opening the bottle is an excellent idea.
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Re: Wine seepage in transit- 1972 stag's leap- overnight priority ship

#23 Post by Sarah S »

Everyone offering advice- you are wonderful. Thank you! This is moderately stressful (and I have to remind myself that I’m lucky that *this* is what I’m stressed out over...) but still, I truly appreciate everyone’s input!
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Re: Wine seepage in transit- 1972 stag's leap- overnight priority ship

#24 Post by JIMCOH »

I'm guessing that these would have been better off being shipped ground. It may be that the pressure differential in an unpressurized cargo air shipment was too much for the old corks. No problem with the seepage, but upon returning to normal external pressure they may have sucked in a bit of air, or maybe just the cork a bit.

They are still likely fine.
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Re: Wine seepage in transit- 1972 stag's leap- overnight priority ship

#25 Post by Rich K0rz€nk0 »

I'm in the camp of crap shoot for something 50 years old. I think many on here have been on both sides of that proposition. The seepage doesn't look heavy and can be normal for the many of the previously stated reasons. I'd just stress letting them sit for a bit before testing one out given they just arrived.
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Re: Wine seepage in transit- 1972 stag's leap- overnight priority ship

#26 Post by MikeL238 »

JIMCOH wrote: October 30th, 2020, 4:04 pm I'm guessing that these would have been better off being shipped ground. It may be that the pressure differential in an unpressurized cargo air shipment was too much for the old corks. No problem with the seepage, but upon returning to normal external pressure they may have sucked in a bit of air, or maybe just the cork a bit.

They are still likely fine.
Interesting, I always thought overnight air air shipment was the best/safest way to ship wine, but maybe it's not?
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Re: Wine seepage in transit- 1972 stag's leap- overnight priority ship

#27 Post by jordan jacobs »

B. Buzzini wrote: October 30th, 2020, 8:30 am Are there any signs of seepage on the bottles themselves? The stains could be from other wines shipped prior, as a reused shipper?
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Re: Wine seepage in transit- 1972 stag's leap- overnight priority ship

#28 Post by Arv R »

I've had bottles start seeping just because they were moved, especially if they had a couple of decades on them.

Maybe you'll be able to get a refund, but I doubt it, and I'm not really sure - if one was being fair - that its warranted.

Wines that are at the half century mark are always going to have some risks, no matter what precautions you might take. Those will tilt the odds in your favor towards a good experience, but there aren't guarantees. And it seems like the seller represented the items fairly. FedEx and UPS are not awesome nowadays, and we had a severe cold snap across the northern high Plains the last week.
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Re: Wine seepage in transit- 1972 stag's leap- overnight priority ship

#29 Post by Wes Barton »

JIMCOH wrote: October 30th, 2020, 4:04 pm I'm guessing that these would have been better off being shipped ground. It may be that the pressure differential in an unpressurized cargo air shipment was too much for the old corks. No problem with the seepage, but upon returning to normal external pressure they may have sucked in a bit of air, or maybe just the cork a bit.

They are still likely fine.
That was my first thought. A couple other good possibilities posted. I'll add one more possible factor. Perhaps the corks were fully saturated and dried out a little while they were stood up in processing. But, because there'd been no previous sign of seepage, and the leaking took place over such a short time, I doubt the wines were damaged in shipping. That wouldn't be enough oxygen ingress. Chuck's advice is good.....to make sure there's no further harm. But, if the wines were stood up too long, at some point, with oxygen getting in over an extended time, the wines were bad before shipping.
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Re: Wine seepage in transit- 1972 stag's leap- overnight priority ship

#30 Post by Sarah S »

I should have mentioned the outcome here. I stood the bottles up for three days, then wrapped the necks in tissue. No further seepage has occurred. I also spoke to someone at the retailer, he documented the case, and said that if when I open a bottle I have an issue, they will make it right. I didn’t want to mention them when asking for advice but now I’m going to “out” them as K&L because their service was, as usual, outstanding. The person I spoke to gave me his personal cell phone number so I can contact him if I have any issues, and I have already placed another order!
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Re: Wine seepage in transit- 1972 stag's leap- overnight priority ship

#31 Post by tpetty »

I've never ordered from them, because they can't ship to Illinois, but that does sound like great customer service.
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Re: Wine seepage in transit- 1972 stag's leap- overnight priority ship

#32 Post by John Glas »

Interesting, I always thought overnight air air shipment was the best/safest way to ship wine, but maybe it's not?
If temps were hot it would be but ground is always my preference due to the lower cost and this time of year most places are good for shipping.

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Re: Wine seepage in transit- 1972 stag's leap- overnight priority ship

#33 Post by D@ve D y r 0 f f »

I thought we had discussed the pressure issue before and the answer was that planes with unpressurized cargo areas aren't really a thing when it comes to FedEx/UPS/Etc in the US?

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Re: Wine seepage in transit- 1972 stag's leap- overnight priority ship

#34 Post by David Glasser »

D@ve D y r 0 f f wrote: November 6th, 2020, 3:56 pm I thought we had discussed the pressure issue before and the answer was that planes with unpressurized cargo areas aren't really a thing when it comes to FedEx/UPS/Etc in the US?
My understanding is that air cargo holds are pressurized similarly to passenger compartments, at about 8,000 feet or lower. They’re also kept above freezing. Air shipment is not a risk for pressure or freezing to my knowledge.

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Re: Wine seepage in transit- 1972 stag's leap- overnight priority ship

#35 Post by Robert.A.Jr. »

Maybe I missed a post, but does the condition with “depressed cork” cause anyone pause? I normally move on when I see that. Not sure if it suggests some cork movement in the past, but raises my eyebrows. That they leaked, perhaps correlated.
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