Old ( mature ) wine is the best

Last Friday , we had a fabulous set of wines , many very old . Remarkably , ALL the corks of the red wines served crumbled in hundreds of pieces when trying to open them , but only one was corked ( alas , a Petrus 59 ) . The others were fantastic . When they are good , these old wines develop aromas that young wines do not offer . The power is gone , in favor of complexity , something I enjoy much more getting older . A couple more of these tastings and I will finally start to believe Francois Audouze .

Dom Perignon 1971 : old but not too old . A very rich wine , wil no hints of oxidation . Golden color , brioche on the nose . An oenoteque wine .

Meursault les Narvaux 2002 d’Auvenay : it was in the same league as the 2 next ones , which says something about this villages wine . Lot’s of extract of course , a distinct style , but def a wow wine .
Montrachet 2004 Comte Lafon : a big success , as it was not oxidized . A refined style , complete opposite of the next wine . Lovely acidity , typical for a 2004 . Ready now but will age well.
Montrachet 2001 DRC : a big rich wine . Not much acidity . Did I mention big ? Little honey on the nose . I like this a lot but it is not for purists .

Then to the red ones .
Petrus 1959 : corked , a nice start .
Petrus 1949 : fantastic nose , so complex . Better than the 2 previous ones I had ( from the same case ) . Everybody around the table was silenced. A monument .
Auxey Duresses 1949 Maison Leroy . Still fresh , not complex ( it’s Auxey after all ) but remarkable for it’s age . Fenomenal lenght and purity .
Chambertin 1952 Bichot . I have no words for this . Earthy tones from Chambertin with lovely truffle , sous bois etc… still fresh , which I think is most important . Old Bichot wines can be so rewarding .
La Tache 1990 : I had to include a younger wine in the tasting , just to see how it would compare . This LT 90 was again different from others I recently had : open for business , very sauvage and rich , almost with a Rhone character… ( the previous one I had 2 months ago was completely closed ) . A power wine from a solar year ( une année solaire , as Bernard Noblet likes to say ) .
La Landonne 1978 Guigal . Not sure but I think it was his first one . Still at peak , powerfull but at that age , the difference between Burgundy and top Rhone is fading . Most tasters were in burgundy.Fantastic complexity . As close to any 100 pointer as I will ever taste .
St. Vivant and Richebourg 1976 Charles Noellat . I did not care too much for the SV but the Richebourg was still delicious . A softer version , reflecting the vintage . Great old burgundy .

Yquem 1955 . A more finesse version . Golden brown color , just about right . Def in the first tier of Yquems ever made .
Madeira Bual 1959 ( with the Cohiba’s ) . A bit young …

Overall , these old wines ( that you can find at auction or in Burgundy if you are really looking ) represent not only history but also a complexity of taste that you don’t find with younger wine . It’s not for every day drinking , but it’s more fun . Of course , we did this completely wrong , way too many wines for 8 people … it would have been much better drinking one or 2 bottles during the whole evening with 2 or 3 people . But anyway , another highlight .

you need a Durand and cork issues will be gone.

I tried the Durand , did not work . Very humid corks .

Out of curiosity Herwig. How did the Durand fail exactly?

Thank you for the tasting notes Herwig, it sounds like a wonderful evening. I also found your closing statements quite interesting:

I often wonder about this when I read notes on large number of these sorts of wines opened. How much of a taste is one getting? Would you rather drink ten of these wines and taste only a couple ounces or open three or four bottles with a smaller group and taste a whole glass? I tend to lean towards the latter, but based on many notes I read here, I may not be in the majority. I wonder how others feel about this?

Interesting. I have used the Durand on some very poor corks and it has always worked. Sorry it did not work for you.

Regarding the Durand ; you have to screw the helix in the cork . Now with most bottles ( including the Yquem and the Petrus 59 ) the entire cork was pushed down so I had to stop . I then proceded with pushing the blades ( first the longest one ) between the bottle and the cork . This was very tricky as this procedure also pushed down the whole cork deeper in the bottle . When I started to pull up slowly , the cork broke down . I am extremely clumsy , I admit , but I think age of the cork and the fact that they were all very humid had something to do with it . Next time , I will invite a more experienced person to do so .
Not that it mattered much , the wines were outstanding . I mostly ended up with about 20 % of the cork in the bottle but I filtered it out ( through a decanter… you don’t need to decant the whole bottle , only a small piece ) .

Pat , the problem is we have a lot of great bottles but not enough occasions to share these wines .

EXACTLY the problem with the Durand, which I find highly overrated for old bottles. I too like old wines, and the corks want to go IN, and the Durand does nothing to eliminate that problem. I struggle with a variety of solutions when the corks want to move, with varied success, but I’ve concluded that the Durand does not help much . . .

To me, it’s not just a question of how little of a particular wine one gets, but one’s ability to really appreciate too much greatness in one sitting. When a 30 year old Armand Rousseau Chambertin becomes the 4th “best” wine in a setting, for example… even if in a small crowd, it gets lost. Even if the wine was not showing great…an appreciation of why is, to me, valuable. In a crowded field of potentially “great” old wines…no one will likely even give the hypothetical Rousseau a second thought. And, where there are too many tasters sharing a particular bottle…that’s guaranteed.

Too much sensory overload…at some point…to do “justice” to any group of wines. I don’t suggest a “hard” rule for when that scenario occurs, just a concern that it easily can.

Well here the Durand is a big hit!
It takes a little practice but afther that any cork is no problem [cheers.gif] Even the most oldest Vintage Port is “a piece of cake”

Could someone point me to a Durand on Amazon please, curious about this device



A Durand at a 1970 Bordeaux lunch a couple of weeks ago saved the day. Eight out of the first eight had corks that a corkscrew would have turned to dust.

That’s odd, because a Durand is a corkscrew – separate screw, separate Ah-so, and the worm (or helix) is really no different than any corkscrew worm. Ah-so removers are good for older corks that a standard worm would pull through or as you say “would turn to dust.” But when an old cork wants to go IN (as a good 50+% of old corks do), how does a Durand offer an more advantage than a standard worm along with a standard Ah so (at far less cost)? Or a cork “retriever”?


Love the Durand but it certainly doesn’t work every time.

Great set of wines Herwig, thank you for your impressions.

Best Regards


Is there a more affordable option for removing troublesome corks ? not necessarily old but ones that don’t cooperate with a basic rabbit !!

Try an Ah So. You should be able to find one at any decent wine shop.


My everyday corkscrew is the Coutale Professional. I love it and keep a few in the kitchen and a few in the family room. The screw of the Durand is both wider and has greater pitch.

I don’t think you’re in the minority. It’s just that people tend to post more about big dinners where lots of famous wines are opened, and when they do post about them, those threads tend to get more replies. So sometimes the board dynamic makes it look like that’s the way most people want to drink their wines, when I doubt it’s actually the case.

Perhaps a naive question, but if the cork wants to go in, why not just sink it so that at least it stays in one piece?