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Wine/Late 70s Burgundy Wines...


Hello! We recently went through my grandparents' wine cellar and while the vast majority of bottles were easily discarded, we came across a few that looked promising (list below). Any suggestions on how to best set up a wine tasting (i.e., should the wines be aerated and/or allowed to breathe before being served; should we do one or two bottles per tasting event, etc.) on the drinkable bottles, along with any suggestions of wonderful cheese pairings would be much appreciated. Thank you!

* Cuvaison
 Napa Valley

* 1980
 Napa Valley
 Cabernet Sauvignon
 Robert Mondavi Winery

* 1978
 Les Cèdres
 Paul Jaboulet Ainé

* 1979
 Joseph Drouhin
 Chassagne-Montrachet (rouge)
 Appellation controlée

* 1978
 A Monsieur Henri Selection
 Une sélection Piat Père et Fils
 Mis en Bouteilles par Piat Père et Fils

Hi Lara

This is an interesting collection of wines...!

The Moulin-a-Vent is a top level Beaujolais, and it is almost certainly over the hill.  You wouldn't have anything to lose by opening it up and finding out, but it's probably tired and faded. It started with more delicate fruit to begin with, and it will probably have the least oomph now.  I'd serve it with something rather delicate, so as not to overwhelm any life that is left in this bottle--maybe just some simple crackers or a delicate cheese.

The Cuvaison Zin is a wine I know very well.  I used to sell that in my first job in the wine industry more than 35 years ago.  It should have an interesting black pepper character.  Again, it's quite tired but I would be fascinated to know how it's holding up.  Zins usually don't live this long, but that wine was made with long-term aging in mind.  The big fruit in this wine will have faded, and it might well taste more like a drier style of port than a Zinfandel.  Maybe some Serrano ham to match with this? ( I would decant this one because it almost certainly has a good dose of sediment.  Stand the bottle upright a couple of days before serving it, and then carefully pour into a decanter until you start to see the sediment in the neck...)

The Mondavi Cab is a pretty classic wine, and if the storage conditions were good, this one could be the best of the lot.  Since it's not the unfined/unfiltered reserved, I'm not sure it needs decanting (you could hold the bottle up to a bright light to see if there is a line of sediment on the side.)  For a cheese, I'd look for a mature but delicate Brie or Camembert...but I also like this wine with a nice slow-cooked beef or lamb dish.  

The last wine, the Chateauneuf, is the most complicated.  Bottle variation here is going to be an issue, and this wine could be anywhere from undrinkable to stunning.  In terms of style and character, I'd look for it to be more like the Zin than the Cab, but with more earthy, complex notes. Decant this one, maybe serve it with a young, fresher Manchego cheese....or compare it with the Mondavi Cab at a dinner with a nice lamb stew...

WhooopS!  My previous answer didn't include the Drouhin Chassagne-Montrachet.  Not a great year, but this was a good wine.  It is now right at the end of its possible life, but once again, you have nothing to lose!  I wouldn't decant this one, just pour it carefully into glasses.  It may be too delicate to last long once it's opened.  You'll know by the bouquet--if there is any fruit left, then you're in great shape!   As with all of these wines, aim at a food pairing that is not as rich or powerful as the wine, or you'll overwhelm it.  

Hope that helps?  Sounds like you are going to have some fun!

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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