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wines and champagnes
wines and champagnes  
Hi Josh:

My mother-in-law sold her house last year and cleared out the basement--delivering a box of old wines and champagnes to me and my wife.

We're wine novices and would love your advice on what to do with these, listed below.

We're not interested in selling them or finding out their cash value--but simply if they'll be drinkable and if any of them are truly bad or exceptionally good. I imagine a lot of them are long past their prime, but what do I know?!

A bit more info: the wines were stored on their sides in a dark basement for many years, but have been upright for about a year now following her move. And the champagnes have been stored upright all along.

I'll appreciate any advice you might have!

WINES
1976 LaCour Pavillon Medoc (with it's $4.25 original price tag!)
1969 Chateau Kirwan Margaux
1966 Chateau Nenin Pomerol
1972 Chateau Prieure Lichine Margaux
1988 Herederos Del Marques de Riscal Rioja Reserva

CHAMPAGNE
1988 Codorniu Brut Clasico
1986 Cremant do Bourgogne
NO DATE
Piper Heidsieck Champagne
Moet & Chandon White Star
Jean Laurent Blanc de Noirs Brut

One photo attached. Happy to send individual photos if that is useful--and many thanks for any guidance you can provide.

Answer
Josh,
It's an interesting collection of wines. Sadly, none are truly auction-worthy. The fact that they have been standing for such a long time is very bad. You can expect that the corks are quite dry and in many cases have allowed air into the bottles. I'll address each:

1976 LaCour Pavillon Medoc- a petite chateau Bordeaux from an average vintage. Should have been consumed withing 5 years of the vintage. Will not be drinkable.

1969 Chateau Kirwan Margaux- a good Classified Chateau Bordeaux from a very poor vintage. Should have been drunk withing 5-6 years of release. Will not be drinkable.

1966 Chateau Nenin Pomerol- good chateau in a very good vintage. Sadly poor storage has taken it;s toll as we can determined from your photo showing the fill at mid to low shoulder in the bottle. Will not be drinkable.  

1972 Chateau Prieure Lichine Margaux- A good chateau in a weak vintage. Should have been drunk within a 3-5  years of release. May be drinkable but not very good.


1988 Herederos Del Marques de Riscal Rioja Reserva- a Spanish wine from a good producer. This wine may be good if poor storage has not killed it, but it is not an exceptional wine that would attract bidders. Give it a try.

The sparkling wine would show a bit more promise if they had been stored lying down. The CO2 helps to preserve them but it also seeps out quickly if the corks dry.

1988 Codorniu Brut Clasico- an older vintage Spanish Cava. Not a collectible and probably not still good.

1986 Cremant do Bourgogne- This one is a wild card. You don't see much Crmant de Bourgogne in the U.S. You didn't state the producer but either way it's too obscure to attract bids. It may however be good. Give it a try.

Piper Heidsieck Champagne- This is a standard non-vintage Champapagne. It doesn't improve with age and so will not be appealing to a bidder. It may be drinkable if the fiz is not all gone.

Moet & Chandon White Star- This is a less distinguished Champagne that also does not improve with age. I would not expect much.

Jean Laurent Blanc de Noirs Brut- This is a fine Champagne from a distinguished grower. An odd man out in this line-up. Retail would be around $50-$60. But since it is also a non-vintage wine it is impossible to tell if it will still be any good, hence it's not marketable. Definitely worthy trying though.  

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Joshua Farrell

Expertise

I can answer most any question about wine- types, styles, grape varieties, regions, vintages, proper storage, production, wine and food pairing, wine service, decanting, proper glassware, serving temperatures etc. Regarding questions about specific bottles of wine, since I live in the U.S. my focus is on wines imported here. I can't answer questions about spirits and liquor valuations.

Experience

I have over 20 years of experience. I was a wine buyer and sommelier in NYC for many years including 4 years at Windows on the World which was NY's number one wine restaurant. I created and taught a Wine Appreciation Course at Borough of Manhattan Community College. I have worked for the past 15 years for the Wine Enthusiast Cos. as Editor, Columnist, Wine Storage Consultant and am currently Wine Director and Buyer for their online wine website wineexpress.com, I recently judged in the Finger Lakes International Wine Competition. Follow me on Twitter @WEX_Josh

Publications
Wine Enthusiast Magazine, Diversions Magazine

Education/Credentials
Windows on the World Wine School- completed all courses from beginning to advanced. Former member of the Sommelier Society of NY. Competed in the Food and Wines of France Sommelier Competition. Traveled to wine regions in Europe including, Bordeaux, Rhone Valley, Alsace, Tuscany, Piedmont, Veneto, Rioja, and Jerez. Visited wine regions in NY's Finger Lakes, California's Sonoma, Napa and Central Coast and Oregon's Willamette Valley.

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