Thursday, September 04, 2008

Good stuff or vinegar?

I was putting some things in the cellar and thought I might show you my wine stash. I am not a big wine-drinker, and am woefully ignorant of the finer points. But I am lucky to have a few bottles I inherited from my dad. After he died, Mom said, "Take whatever reds you find. I can't drink it."

I also get three bottles every year from Kent at Road 31 Wine Co. (formerly Green Truck Cellars). I know "Cousin Kent" through my friend Karen, and got to help in a very minor way with the harvest a couple of years ago. Kent makes a beautiful Pinot every year that sells out quickly and is featured on the wine lists at some of the best restaurants, including Bouchon.

I save the good stuff for special occasions with people who know good wine. Of my dad's stash, I've opened two in the last 15 years. Both were most excellent.

But both times I wondered if the wine would be vinegar. I have three bottles of the 1971 Chateau Haut-Brion left, a 1973 Beaulieu Vineyard Georges de Latour Cabernet, and a split of 1959 Chateau Margaux Bordeaux. Do you know wine? What do you think? How long can they last?
I guess there's only one way to really find out, but I'm waiting for more special occasions to do so.


  1. Lucky girl. The Margaux is definitely special occasion. Provided it's been stored correctly, it should be good.

  2. I agree with vicki. As long as it has been stored correctly and there is no corkage, there is no way for it to acidify. It needs air to do that.

  3. That's the thing about cellaring wine: you never know. I've had one bottle from a the same case go 'off' and all the rest cellar beautifully for much longer. Trouble is there are a lot of changes besides wine/vinegar and the ones you have there are probably past their prime. I'd say make the opening of the wines a special occasion and see what you've got.

  4. I don't know too much about wines, except that I like drinking them. I think wines are like fine linens and good china... get them out and enjoy them. Don't save them for special occasions. Every day can feel special when you use special things. My mom always saved stuff for special times, but too much stuff never got used. Cheers!

  5. Thanks, all! I was doing a little research after I posted this, and found out that the '71, at least, is still considered a "young" wine. (And sells for about $500 a bottle now!)

    Betts, never fear, those special days appear here and there. Of the two bottles I opened, one was at a New Year's Eve dinner party and one when friends came to visit who really know wine. Both times the response was, "Oh, we shouldn't open this!" But of course we did, and were pleased with the results.

    I won't be like those little old ladies who die leaving a closet full of things being saved for special occasions that were never quite special enough.

  6. I know like nothing about wine, but it sure looks like an impressive stash!

  7. Friends of ours had the wisdom to build a house at Snowmass 30-odd years ago. When we went there a couple of years back, they suggested we open some of the wines that were almost as old as the house. It was heartbreaking to throw out corked bottles of really exquisite wines that would have ANY occasion special if they hadn't been kept that long. I couldn't watch the vintage Chateau Margaux and similar being poured down the drain. So I saw, recruit wine-loving friends and drink 'em while they're still drinkable.

    Claire @

  8. Claire, I do fear that. But I see that you can still buy these vintages, so I'm hoping mine are still good.