Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Who Loves an Old Wine?

The resounding silence on my earlier post regarding the locating of older wines leaves me with the impression there is little interest in such wines. Either that, or no one is reading.

Is this thing on?

Certainly, the price and hassle associated with purchasing "old" wines causes some wine lovers to decide, as a friend put it, "to save my money for Cristal and the [ladies]." New World wine drinkers are notorious for loving young, vivacious wines, but there is still a brisk trade in older vintages, both online and in bricks-and-mortar retailers.

My concerns are about pricing and bottle condition. 1969 was a good year for red Burgundy, but I really don't have four grand to put towards a bottle of wine. It was an off-year for Bordeaux, but the prices are still restrictive.

It's my good fortune, however, that the year of my birth was a good year in the Rhone. Maybe I'll be drinking 1969 Hermitage? Maybe 1969 Côte Rôtie?

But, I’m looking at other options. Cognac, Armagnac and any long-lived wine, such as Cahors, are possibilities. But, the last thing I want is an expensive, poorly-stored bottle of wine. I need to know that every effort has been given to proper care.

Thanks to Golly, of Golly’s Wine Drops, for suggesting Berry Bros and Rudd, a company that has a long history of dealing in older vintages. I believe I’m a little too far away for their services, but you never know.

Maybe they’ll send me a sample.


Nate said...

Sorry you aren't feelin' the love with any comments about older wines, but I think you're right - I don't think there's that much interest in older wines, certainly not amongst the demographic that reads or writes wine blogs.

I know I couldn't personally imagine any reason I'd shell out hundreds (or thousands) of dollars for a single bottle of wine: a) I just think of the number of really excellent $30-$50 bottles I could buy for the same price, and think I'd get more enjoyment out of multiple good bottles than one fantastic bottle; b) I think I've got some Puritan guilt complex about "wasting" so much money on something so fleeting as a single bottle of wine; and c) I honestly don't think I want to know just how good that uber expensive bottle of vino is - it could mess up my palate for the wines I will be drinking throughout my lifetime! "If I'd never seen such riches I could live with being poor".

Anyway, just wanted to let you know I was reading, just didn't have much to say about 40 year old wines!

John said...

Thanks for an insightful comment, Nate (and thanks for reading). I certainly want to hear as many opinions as possible on this topic.

The money vs. enjoyment factor is a big issue for me as well, really the central issue. How much is it reasonable to pay for a "wine experience?"

I'm not worried about spoiling my palate, however, because even if I had the money, I'm sure I would crave young wines as well as old. This "research" project is more about understanding how wines evolve in terms of taste and value.

Sonadora said...

Hey John-

I'm reading! I just have nothing to add...given that I think the oldest wine I have ever had was perhaps 15 years old. A touch out of my price range these days! Good luck with your search, I'll be interested to hear your results!

John said...

Thanks for the shout and thanks for commenting, Sonadora. Everyone's comments are welcomed - even just to say, "I have nothing to add." I'll definitely do a comprehensive post to wrap up this subject. Hopefully, it will involve a great bottle of wine.

farley said...


It's a good idea but a hard one to execute. I wish my parents had been wine drinkers and bought me a case of wine, vintage 1977. That was a great year for Port, but I'm not sure what else.

Now, you've got me thinking. Which is bad cause that always leads to spending...

John said...

Thanks for commenting, Farley. It is a little daunting, but I'm learning quite a bit about tracking down such bottles. I hope to have more to share on this subject soon.

No one ever said being a wino is easy....