Recorking and wine quality

I recently purchased a magnum of an older first growth at auction, with the notation “loose capsule reveals rebouche au chateau en 1991.” I understand that this may be a not-uncommon practice for older Bordeaux, but wonder what the impact of the process on the wine might be. On the one hand, I suppose it implies that the wine was sound as of the date it was opened, while on the other merely the act of opening the wine introduces the possibility of some damage.

What’s the process by which a chateau recorks older wine…just pop, possibly top, and stop? Any attempt to reduce the wines exposure to oxygen while the wine is uncorked, or is it accepted that the minimal exposure will do no harm?


Recorking and very late release wines (looking at you Borgogno!) are always fun topics. One can get remarkably fresh wines with both.

The practice in Bordeaux, I believe, is to top up the wine with a more recent vintage, which should more than compensate for a brief exposure to air during the recorking. Lafite used to offer this service in the US, as I recall.

I don’t remember the drill with Borgogno Riserva Barolos. I think it was similar. Or was the wine kept in in large glass demijohns and then bottled closer to the time of sale? In any event, you could be sure of a good fill if you bought one of these that was recently released from the cellars.