Need Advice: Opening a 1975 Ca Cab.

Opening a 1975 BV Latour tomorrow. Have never opened anything even close to this old before.

Definitely using an ah so to open. Not sure on how long to decant. (Not even sure if I should decant).

If anyone with experience would share their thoughts, I’d appreciate it!

Would be best to use a Durand, in my experience the cork will just push through the bottle otherwise. This isn’t a bad thing because I’d recommend decanting anyhow to get rid of the sediment. I’ve had a couple ‘75 Cali Cabs recently, Ridge Monte Bello, Mayacamas, both had tons of sediment and needed some air to blow of the dustiness.

Have a metal mesh coffee filter, on hand. Even 1990s California wines often have crumbling corks, when a standard corkscrew.

I’m sure I haven’t had as many of these as others, but I think the Ah So should work fine if you’re careful. I used it on a 77 BV recently. I wouldn’t feel the need decant for long, but would do it to remove sediment. It may be best (for my palate) in the first hour or two before the remaining fruit fades.

That’s all good advice. A Durand would be the thing if you happen to own one, but otherwise an Ah So should work, just take your time and be gentle.

You could also just stand it up a few days to let the sediment settle, then pour off gently. See once it’s in the glass whether you think decanting would help, or otherwise just let each glass develop with its air and be patient with it.

My best experiences with older CA cab have been with bottles opened 6-8 hours ahead of time and left in cool cellar or other cool place, then gently decanted just before serving.

I opened 3 bottles of '71 Bordeaux last night for my birthday party. Used an ah so to no avail - all 3 soft corks ended up in the bottle.

As Victor mentioned, a metal coffee filter and pouring into a pitcher/decanter will take care of both cork pieces and sediment. I used the plastic grocery bag trick (can be seen on youtube) to get the corks back out of the bottles. Washed out the bottles and poured the wine back into them for the party. (I had done all this ahead of time, predicting problems)

You might want to try a poor man’s Durrand - combine an ah so and corkscrew. Awkward but it works!

I’ve opened old bottles with an Ah So, just have to go in slowly and go back and forth while inserting. If the cork starts going in you could try the corkscrew with Ah So but I’ve never done that.

I would stand up the night before somewhere cool but warmer than your wine cellar or fridge, around 65F. Decant about 15-30 minutes before you want to drink it to remove the sediment. I use the light under the bottle method while decanting to see when there’s mostly sediment left and leave that in the bottle. These older wines can have a short drinking window once they’re open up so I don’t decant them a long time plus you get to see the evolution of the wine after you’ve opened it. Take a sip after you’ve decanted to make sure it’s OK and have a backup bottle ready!

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Stand it up as long as practical. If you can use a corkscrew + ah so, you can do a “poor man’s Durand” to help the cork not fall apart.

Unless you’re double decanting to bring to a restaurant or want to pour out of the bottle for the sake of presentation, I prefer to either decant traditionally for sediment and serve out of the decanter + then pour the last bit through a super fine filter (I like this one: into a separate glass … not that I’m worried about it being that different from the wine in the decanter, but why not do it? I wouldn’t personally intentionally leave it in the decanter for any length of time before enjoying … just follow it in the glass.

Thank you all very much for the great advice!

I very much appreciate all of your thoughts.

Hope everyone has a great Super Bowl Sunday!

I would’nt give it alot of air as it can be aerated in the glass. it probably will have a little funk but should blowoff quickly.

I hope someone got you a Durand as a birthday gift! I googled the plastic grocery bag trick; had never heard of it, looks fascinating, and glad it worked for you. Fingers crossed I never have to use it though. Hope those ‘71 Bordeaux showed well!

If you are really concerned about the cork, there is always port-tongs. More & more I’m thinking there is a reason why those were created for bottles people plan to open that are more than 40 years old.

You too! Let us know how it goes!


As much as I love my Durand—flawlessly executing the “poor man’s Durand” is kind of fun, too.

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This is the sediment from a '96 Dalla Valle tonight as decanted per my post above. Decanted traditionally and then once I saw the first speck of sediment in the neck I poured through the funnel/filter above. This is what the filter looked like, and the glass has no visible sediment at all.

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I’ve found an Ah-So can be hit or miss, depending on the condition of the cork. I’ve never had a problem with a Durand. As far as decanting, this is another tool I can’t imagine not having for wines that need decanting. Only $17!

Stood the bottle upright the day before in cellar.

Cork came out with the ah so perfectly (had the corkscrew on hand jic). Was really impressed with the perfect condition of the cork.

Ran it through a fine mesh strainer, and stopped pouring once I got to a medium-fine smoke.

Gave it about 20-30 minutes before drinking.

Nose: Leather, sun-dried oranges and tomatoes, light toffee, maple, slight vanilla.

Taste: Dried orange, craisins, prunes, anise.

Overall was incredibly happy that it was drinkable. Thanks again for all of the advice!

Wow, that was one crusty wine! I hope it was as good as I imagine it would be.