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Wine/3 old bottles


Hello. I cleaned out my mother's home 5 years ago and took a few bottles that she had kept that were her father's. If you can shed any light on them it would be greatly appreciated. They are the following:

Selected Malmsey - Fine Madeira Wine, Vintage 1906
Bottled and exported by OscarAcciaioly, Madiera Island.

Ruffino Aleatico Dessert Wine SALENTO Vintage 1951
Produced and bottled by I.L. Ruffino Pontassieve (Firenze) Italy

E. Remy Martin & Co Cognac Grand Champagne No. B.27869

I look forward to your response and thank you in advance.

Westport, CT USA

Hi Lauren

These are all interesting...and one could be pretty special.  Let's take care of the easy one first:  The Cognac is quite good, but the alcohol level on this is so high that it really hasn't changed much, for better or for worse, since it was bottled.  The good news is that it is fine to drink and probably delicious.  The bad news is that it hasn't appreciated in value the way some fine wines do.  It's worth about what a nice bottle of Cognac is worth today---maybe $50-75.

The Ruffino is an odd bottle.  I haven't tasted anything like this at this age, and it might well still offer some pleasure--but it probably won't have much value on the auction market.  It's just not well-known enough to attract a big audience.  It's a sweet wine, although much of the sugar may have caramelized by now, and the color will be dark brown as well.  But you might try it with something like a nice cheese or holiday fruitcake--just nothing too sweet.  It should have a nice nutty flavor, and could be very charming.

The last bottle is the Malmsey, by the Acciaioli family on Madeira.  This is a famous old producer and the wonderful thing about Madeira is that it really pretty much does last forever.  I can't give you a specific value on this bottle, simply because they are so rare, but it's not unusual for older Madeiras to sell for more than $200 a bottle, and sometimes much more.

It's illegal for private citizens to sell alcoholic beverages in the USA, so you would have to sell it through an auction house or wine retailer.  I would recommend that if you want to sell it, you should contact a top retailer who really knows Madeira, to make sure that you are working with someone who appreciates exactly what this is--K&L in California is a good one, but there are many others.

Or you could send it to me, because I would be very happy to drink it!

Seriously, open this on a special occasion with family or friends and be prepared for a treat.  Rich flavors, tremendous complexity, with notes of hazelnuts, caramel, cocoa, and toffee.  Serve it with roasted nuts, good cheese, or simply sip it on its own.   It's one of the great wines of the world, and sadly unappreciated by many consumers, but true connoisseurs would get a thrill out of this bottle.

Hope that helps.

Paul Wagner


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Paul Wagner


Wines of the world, wine a food matching, wine and food service questions. I currently teach Wine courses at Napa Valley College, am an international wine judge, written many articles for publication, and have been a guest speaker at way too many wine conferences to remember. 25 years in the business. With Liz Thach and Janeen Olsen, I authored the definitive book on wine marketing: Wine Marketing & Sales, Strategies for a Saturated Market by The Wine Appreciation Guild, which won the Gourmand International Award in 2008 for the best wine book for professionals! With Rick Kushman of Capital Public Radio, I host a radio show and podcast called Bottletalk at, where I answer questions about wine and food on the air.


30 years in the business.

Society of Wine Educators, Academy of Wine Communications, American Wine Society

Vineyard and Winery Management Magazine, Fine Wine Journal, les Amis du Vin Journal, Society of Wine Educators Journal, and more.

I have taught at Napa Valley College for the last twenty years.

Awards and Honors
Spanish National Wine Fair: A lifetime dedicated to wine award. Espaderino della Castelania di Soave in Italy.

Past/Present Clients
Wineries include Caymus, Wente, Parducci, Shannon Ridge, Paul Dolan Wines, Vigilance, and others. Wine regions include the Union des Grand Crus de Borcdeaux, Union des Grands Crus de St. Emilion, Consorzio di Chianti CLassico, Vino Nobile di Montepulciano, Consorzio di Franciacorta, Rioja Alavesa, and others.

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