Recently, at auction, Aussie Wine Guy won four bottles of vintage Australian wine. The four bottles proved to be a mixed bag in terms of condition, only time will tell if (at $20.50 per bottle) it was a sound purchase or not.
The four bottles were as follows:
1966 E.S Dennis, Bin 60, McLaren Vale, Dry Red (Hermitage)
Label is in brilliant condition, no tearing, stains or discolouration. Hard to observe the cork due to the capsule (foil at top of bottle), will remove it and take additional pictures to determine if there has been any seepage.
Turning the bottle onto the side, there is no increase in bubbles, and no liquid escapes. The bottle is in excellent condition – even amazing – for a bottle from 1966. Chances are high that the bottle is good. Liquid level is a tad lower than we’d like, but seems within normal parameters.
Stripping back the foil (capsule) from the top of the bottle revealed a fairly bleak outcome for the cork. There was a slight build up of crust, but no complete indication of seepage. Given the situation, I managed to remove the cork without corking the bottle (a very difficult task) as the cork was only offering slight resistance to the corkscrew.
We managed to remove the cork in three parts, and found that the cork had managed to maintain a seal! We double decanted the wine into a Riedel decanter, stripping out the sediment (which was numerous and very fine.
The decanter has been left to breath, but an initial tasting reveal the wine has not gone off, in fact there was only the slightest traces of vinegar/high acidity. It’ll need a lot longer to breathe before a realistic tasting can take place – the wine is well over forty years old. It’s, frankly, a miracle that it still lives!
1970 Hardy’s, Nottage Hill, Claret
This bottle, by far, is in the worst condition. Label is fairly mangled (as can be seen), the cork is partially exposed and crusty. When the bottle was placed sideways into a wine rack, there was minor seepage (meaning the seal has been breached).
This bottle also had the worst ullage (distance between cork and level of the wine) of the four bottles, indicating that there is a very high likelihood that the cork has been compromised. Capsule was partially torn, cork exposed.
Shot. The cork was unable to retain a seal and, as a result, seepage and air contaminated the bottle. We were unable to cleanly remove the cork, so we corked it and double decanted the wine. Unfortunately, the effects of the loss of seal from the cork had caused the wine t turn to vinegar.
Down the sink. Which is a shame because the wine had all the hallmarks of a superb red, there were still heavy and lasting traces of tannins, oak and red currants. The bouquet was quite pungent (even considering the seepage) and heavy, much like the 1976 Grange we opened several years ago.
Note: Another bottle of this is selling here in much better condition for $74.95!
1970, Southern Vale Wines, Private Bin 34, Cabernet-Shiraz
A second bottle from 1970, second best of the four wines. Bottle appears to be in decent condition, label is a bit scuffed but more or less intact. Hard to determine if there are any problems with the cork – will need to remove packaging and observe the cork condition.
Liquid level (ullage) looks good (coming in just under the neck of the bottle, above the shoulder). Depending on the state of the cork, this could be a salvageable wine, even though it is over 40 years old… who knows for sure?
Stripping back the foil revealed that the cork is intact! The foil (capsule) was in much better condition than the previous two bottles, and has remained in decent condition. What luck!!
Shelved to be reviewed later.
1979 Chateau Tahbilk, Cabernet Sauvignon
Bottle is in excellent condition – best of the four, label is slightly marked, but whole. The ullage is right where it should be, and the mouth of the bottle looks brand new. Definitely no signs of wear and tear, or seepage, this bottle could be the best of the bunch.
Revealing the cork by stripping back the foil revealed a fully intact cork. No signs of seepage and plenty of resistance when tested.
Shelved to be reviewed later.
Wine Tasting Notes
Check back for updated notes as we uncork these four bottles, in the hopes that they have survived intact! This will be must-read stuff!