I have a bottle of this that I bought at Zachy’s when it was released and put on the shelf in about 1976. I think it was my first First Growth purchase. I know the history of the Picasso on the label and that Parker gave it 65 points based upon a tasting in 1982. Every time I planned to open it, something came up. I am going to open it this Saturday. Mid-shoulder fill. The storage was in an apartment with limited air conditioning for the first two years, a basement with a leaky door to the outside for the next 8 years, a passive cellar with reasonable temps for the next 20 years, and a temperature-controlled cellar for the next 17 years. My expectations are limited at best. I have the following questions.
Has anyone had it recently, just for the sake of comparison.
I have kept the wine facing label up for decades - my one OCD about wine is label up storage. If there is any crud in the bottle, it should be stuck to the glass across from the label. I do not think I should stand it up. I will just decant it while keeping the bottle as flat as possible. Any thoughts on this issue? Obviously, if I do this, an “Audouze” in advance is not practical.
How long before we drink it should I decant it?
If it is really bad, has anyone used an old first growth for stew?
I never knew whether they held the Picasso label until they were elevated to first growth or until he died because he didn’t want to spend the rest of his life going out to restaurants and being asked to autograph bottles. I have heard both stories over the years. I remember when he died in 1973 and everyone said, “Oh damn, there is no Picasso label,” and then when they bottled the 1973, there it was.
Keep an open mind, you just never know with old Bordeaux.
A 1973 Latour I popped a few years ago with @Marc_Frontario was sensational, but admittedly, more for a Chinon-palate.
Marc and I, with Tooch and Corey, also popped a 1965 Mouton on a whim one night at my place. Like your 73, I had been sitting on this wine for eons. From a terrible vintage. Even Levenberg rated it in the 60s. And voila, it was a totally lovely wine. It did fade fast, so keep that in mind on your decanting approach.
I only rely on notes from people I know because even on CT, there are people who like Yellow Tail. Unfortunately, I do not know who those people are and I do not recognize their screen names. That’s why I posted in the first place. I would even prefer to rely on Alf than Joe Anonymous. Would you rely on a TN from someone named after a Japanese video game creature?
Agreed. I take CT notes with a grain of salt if I don’t know the person, though you can often get a sense from the write-up if they have some idea of what they’re talking about.
What struck me was the consistent thread in these notes – that the wine is still alive and even pleasurable, though very much at the end of its life. I thought that commonality was significant. Of course, the storage of your bottle sounds like it was less than ideal.
I have not had anything from 73 but have had several bordeaux from 74 and 75 over the past few years, which were equally bad years. Regardless of where they have fallen in the classification, they all (1) had a ton of sediment where I was glad I stood them upright for a few days beforehand, and (2) would have degraded very quickly if decanted. I normally open them and put them back in the wine fridge for 15 minutes to let that initial old-wine funk blow off but not much more than that.
If you do the “horizontal opening” thing you’ll want to pour out all of the wine into glasses immediately so you don’t have to stand it upright afterwards and hope you dont’ stir up the sediment.
I think you will really enjoy the wine. In the 74-75’s I’ve opened, not one has been in the “60s” or anywhere near that. They were all in great shape and very enjoyable.
Less than ideal is correct, but I know exactly what it was, in contrast to the restaurants I have been to over the years that proudly give me a tour of their passive basement cellar . . . located right next to the heating system for the entire building.
I opened one about 45m ago, and it is wildly exceeding my expectations.
First, a few notes on the bottle: From an 8 bottle lot ex-J. Phelps collection Dec 2020. I’ve been meaning to try one of these but just hadn’t gotten around to it. I finally brought one home maybe a month ago and stood it up. Ullage high to very high shoulder.
Pop n pour-first reaction was really nice nose (maybe 92-93) but weaker (high 80s) palate. But both nose and palate have improved since then, though the relative relationship stands. Probably a 93 point wine overall but mid 90s nose and 90ish palate now. The acid is really pronounced and I suspect is largely responsible for the aging curve. Very Burgundian nose —like a great aged Vosne if you take away some of the spice. I guess it also reminds me of certain older Northern Rhône wines of which I have much more limited experience…but essentially the ones I also think smell Burgundian. 83/85 Guigal Cote Rotie Blonde comes to mind…or 95 Clape Cornas.
Drank a bottle during the pandemic as dinner for two during lockdown seemed a good way to burn through “off vintage” 1st growths. Not a profound wine but better than its reputation, at least from a cold French cellar. I would decant and serve more or less immediately, but it will only fall apart if it’s a heat damaged bottle.