1986 Clerc Milon

Funky old aroma immediate on opening, bright red cherries side-by-side with a lot of age, not maderized, just smells old. The palate reprises the cherries but not so much the age. This has plenty of fruit, tannins fully resolved, light to medium in body, the cherries are joined by hints of black pepper and iodine, with some conifer in the background and a touch of dead leaves only in the finish. My last bottle about 2 – 3 years ago was young and tannic. This is on the downside, but still a nice glass. Rated 88.8. Drink up. I’ve got one left, will pencil it in for late winter.

Nice note on a good wine, Dan. Love some claret on a cool evening.

I’m a fan of Milon, have already been through several bottles of the 2010. After reading your note I dug into CT and it looks like the 1990 is singing…my next purchase maybe. Are you looking forward to drinking that last bottle of the 86?

Sometimes giving a bottle a couple of hours of slow-ox will allow that “old smell” blow off and let the wine come together. You might try it with the last bottle.

Dan, this sounds definitely like a bottle that hasn´t been stored perfectly … at least too warm for a certain period.
My experience is more likely yours 3 years ago, still slightly tannic, but not that far away from maturity.

Slow- oxing a bottle like this might help a bit, but the harm has already been done …

to all:

Thanks for the comments.

This bottle was relatively quick-oxed, decanted a good hour before serving. The old smell was not bad at all, the dead leaves at the end were not abnormal in any way. I use slow-ox often, but in this case not when the last bottle was young just a few years ago.


I purchased this case as futures. It was stored in my business warehouse at a steady 58 degrees F (14C), until moved under perfect conditions to my passive basement in Maine in 1996, where it has been ever since with temps ranging from 40 - 62 F (4 - 17C) from winter to summer. Bottle variation happens under any conditions with 28 year old wine. We live with it.

Dan Kravitz

sure bottle variation, but the question is why.
could have been a less tight cork, could also have been a single bottle that stood aside and got direct sunlight (I once watched this in a winery, several bottles in the bright sunshine coming in through a warehouse window … they had at least 30-35° C when touched … ) … or whatever …

So who knows, but a sound bottle CM 86 shouldn´t be that mature … (smmmells old, … dead leaves et …)

For what it’s worth 86 Duhart Milon was showing some secondary notes but still had plenty of delicious dark fruit. Nicely resolved and seems to be on a long plateau.


Thanks for the note. I repeat, bottle variation happens at this age. I have never visited Clerc Milon, but I assume that when wines are bottled at this property, they are packed immediately into cases, not stood up in direct sunlight.

I do not believe this bottle was mistreated. It certainly was not in my possession, which occurred on release.

As to the ‘why’, nobody knows. All I know is that bottles from the same case begin to show differently with age. Corks are certainly a likely reason. A difference of a millilitre or two in fill can also affect things.

Dan Kravitz

Opened a bottle of Clerc-Milon 1986 today:

1cm into neck. Slow-oxed for 4 hours, decanted for 10 min.
deep ruby red with slight orange rim, dark center, almost no browning.
Full but soft nose of black and red fruits, plums, even marones, a bit of smoke/soot, very Pauillac, hints of forest floor, quite soft on the palate but good length, tannins mostly resolved, just enough to give a nice bite to the finish, full and very mouthfilling, really chewy and satisfying texture, slightly lacking power for outstanding, so 89 points.
Will keep for another 6-8 years, but not really improve, just change …

Sadly the next bottle, a Clos Vougeot 1989 (negoc.) was badly corked, so I had to grab something unprepared, I took

Cotes-du-Rhone 2007, Chateau-des-Tours …
a real winner, primary fruit (strawberries and cherries), but expansive on the palate, sweet and long, if not really deep, went well with cheese and later the cakes … opened up in the glass,
a completely different wine, less intellectual, but more emotional satisfying, cannot help to give it also 89 points …

Afterwards we took a sip of Tawny Port … and a Malt …

I helped host a dinner with Clerc Milon last year during which we drank the '86, '96, '05, and '10. All excellent, though I enjoyed the '86 and '10 most of all. The former for its full maturity and grace in relative old age, the later for its boisterous youth and vigor. The two teenagers in the middle were a joy to drink as well. We had a case of each, straight from the Chateau, and I can confirm that among the '86s there was certainly bottle variation, though most seemed more alive than your bottle. The joy and danger of old wines! I have a bottle of the '86 left to open up, and this threat leads me to believe that I might as well do it sooner rather than later.

I made the experiment yesterday myself,

really full colour which looked like a 15 year old wine, like a 1999, deep nose with a lot of blackcurrants and cassis, leather and underwood, all presented quite softly with a good flow and velvet tannins, chewy is a good word, mouthfilling another, medium long, no really hard edges, drinking great now, no need to hold, no hurry either. I would rate it 90/100 p.