Wine/Alexis Lichine Nuits Saint-Georges 1979
QUESTION: Hi David,
I have recently acquired a bottle of vintage Burgundy. It is a negociant bottled Nuits Saint-Georges "Les Boudots" 1979 from Alexis Lichine, which I bought on German eBay for only €10 plus postage.
The Label, capsule and cork all appear to be in good condition (although the label does not show the alcohol content, which is odd), and the fill level is only about 5mm below the base of the cork (the capsule is cut to show the bottom of the cork - which is branded, but I can't see the branding). There appears to be a fairly thick sediment which I can see when I hold the bottle near a bright light, which has been thrown up by the fact that it's been posted, so the liquid is quite cloudy.
I am planning on drinking this bottle next weekend with some friends and was looking for some pointers on what to expect and how best to serve it.
Obviously with such an amount of sediment, it's going to be essential to decant it, but should I do so in advance of the meal that we're going to be eating (I figured that I couldn't go too far wrong with boeuf bourgignon as a match), or should I keep exposure to air to a minimum with a bottle of this age?
Would it damage the wine if I were to pass it through a filter paper to minimise the transition of sediment to the decanter and maximise the amount of (clear) wine we get to drink. Also, is it likely that the wine would be suffering from "bottle sickness" after its journey? I am going to leave it standing upright this week to allow the sediment to (hopefully) fall to the bottom of the bottle.
I also wanted to ask was whether it was likely to be a genuine bottle. When the seller was getting €10 for a bottle, it hardly seems likely that it's worthwhile counterfeiting, but I was just slightly surprised that the fill level was so high after 33 years. Everything looks kosher: old, but in good condition, but when I'm reading that ullage of up to 4 or 5 cm is considered 'normal' for Burgundies of this age, it seems a little too good to be true.
Did I get a bargain, or did I get a bottle of vinegar, way beyond its prime? I can't find any reference to this wine online so I have no idea!
The reason I bought this bottle, by the way, is that I recently purchased a bottle of Les Boudots by Mongeard-Mugneret 2009 1er cru from Magnum Wines of Beaune to lay down for my 5 year-old son, and I wanted to see what sort of flavours I might expect when we open it together in twenty years or so...
Finally, do you have any idea exactly where Les Boudots might be? I know it's just North of NSG, near vosne-romanee, but I can't find a map of where it actually is anywhere!
Thank you so much for your time, I hope I haven't asked too many questions,
ANSWER: Hi Matthew,
NSGs from this vintage are always a gamble as much depends on the actual path of the hail storms that damaged many vineyards that year. (You may be lucky though as Les Boudots is right at the northern border of the appellation and a couple of UK merchants list other negociants' versions in the £60/80 range, plus VAT, which bodes well.)
The vendor could presumably have set a reserve figure higher than the £10 you paid so I wouldn't be concerned about possible forgery. It might have suffered from poor stoage though - but that's a risk you took (rightly!) when you bid.
Personally, I don't like decanting Pinot Noirs far in advance of pouring so I'd keep the bottle standing upright until I was ready to sit down with my guests and decant it then through a couple of layers of fine clean muslin - rather than a coffee filter.
It should go perfectly with Boeuf Bougignon - although some authorities recomend a Chambertin!
---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------
QUESTION: Hi David,
I said I'd write back when I'd tried it,and, well I opened the bottle last night. To my surprise, the foil capsule was made of lead! The cork was in fine shape with a slight dusting of green mould on the top surface. Once pulled, the cork held up well and showed no sign of degradation - the surface even had a slightly waxy feel. One side was slightly more stained than the other, indicating which side the bottle had been lying on for the majority of its life (perhaps also indicating stable storage). I took your advice and decanted it immediately prior to drinking, through a couple of layers of muslin (although to be honest, I don't think they were necessary in the end as the wine was so clear).
After having stood unopened for several days, the liquid was clear and decanted easily, showing an orangy-brown colour, with no noticeable colour difference between the edge and the middle of the liquid (I'm not quite sure about the technical terms, but I'm sure you know what I mean).
The wine did not smell vinegary or sherry-like (towards the end of the night, one of my friends said that his long-poured glass had started to get sherryish notes though) and I guess we lost about half an inch in the bottom of the bottle to sediment (I later passed this through an extremely fine lab-grade filter paper and drank it (a coffee filter had no effect at all because the sediment was so fine), although this filtered sample (a small glass) had a much stronger "pencil shavings/graphite" taste to it than the rest of the bottle, despite being completely clear.
The wine still had a good fruitiness to it, and was surprisingly powerful and filled your senses with flavour - my friend described it as being "like it had an atomiser inside your face", perhaps slightly drunkenly poetic, but it seemed to be quite fitting.
There were notes of redcurrants and cranberries, as well as a minerality expressed by the aforementioned graphite flavour. I'd heard about wines tasting like pencil shavings before, but never actually experienced it!
A lovely experience, all in all, and a nice birthday treat. All in all it was a lovely bottle of wine - definitely glad I took the gamble. (Oh, and the boeuf bourgignonne was delicious and went really well with it, even if I do say so myself).
Thank you for your help,
Thanks so much for coming back with such detailed and expert tasting notes.
I particularly admire: "like it had an atomiser inside your face"
ss I've never heard that description before but I understand exactly what your friend meant.
Not a bad outcome from a €10 gamble!
Well done again and regards - to your friend too.