Swallowed: ’52 Burgundy & ’82 Rioja


Opening a 1952 anything should be a pretty special treat. Unfortunately, after opening two bottles of 1952 Joseph Drouhin Clos Vougeot, one as an experiement and one with very high hopes for greatness, we were left pretty dejected. Gold amber colors and subtle yet slightly captivating smells only served to mask what has become a lifeless, completely dead wine.

I had two bottles of this, one that was only filled about ½ way up the bottle, and one with a descent fill for how old it was. Of the two, the complete oxidized one had a strong nose of raw meat and pond water, the slightest hint of musty grape skins and a touch of chemicals. The aroma was subtle but definitely there. The bottle with a good fill smelled very slightly of wet dog and damp newspaper, but for the most part had no smell to speak of.

The ‘good’ bottle was first up for the tasting. Good glasses, decanted it a bit through a coffee filter and into a decanter (this takes quite a bit of time, ½ the bottle ends up moving through the coffee filter in single drops). Swirl and sniff, again and again. I was almost doing lines of this wine my nose was jammed so far in the glass trying to coax out any kind of smell, but it just didn’t have one. And finally a small taste. It tasted like…   water. What the hell? Slightly chilled water with a very feint finish that pretty much just reminded you it was once wine. Maybe calling it fortified water would have peeked our interest, but since it was wine we quickly poured out our glasses and moved on.

The experimental bottle proved pretty obnoxious to drink. It wasn’t acidic or scortched the way some other older bottles I’ve had have turned out. This had that same odd characteristic of not having much flavor, then some cedar, then a freight train of disgusting musty dusty attic. Like hacking up a dusty mouthful of phlem after cleaning out the attic all day. We couldn’t even take another sip, but as it was simply an experiment to see how the wine had done I guess it was a slightly successful experiment. Because it didn’t kill us. And it very well could have, it was that bad.

We moved on in the interest of actually having a descent bottle of wine to the 1982 Miguel Torres Gran Coronas Reserva Black Label. Decanted through a coffee filter though this proved unneccessary as the wine had descent ruby color and not much sediment to speak of. Swirled in the glass and got a little bit of barnyard, some cranberry, possibly a tiny hint of dark stewed cherry, but overall very limited in it’s fruit profile. Very underwhealming.

Embibing these wines was a chore. We put in a shift trying to drink the rioja, and got through almost an entire glass before we gave up. Moved to delicous white russians and an 08 Laville Haut Brion that I had tried at the UGC the year before and earmarked as a solid daily drinker. I only got a quick sniff and taste before my wife and guest polished off the bottle, but I remember thinking it was descent and a solid QPR.

After dinner was served, and we were a little drunk, we muscled back through the 52 and 82. With food and time both had at least a faint whisp of something going on at the beginning middle and end, but to be fair neither was really worth paying that much attention to, and in the state we ended up in it would be a disservice to describe it as anything other than drunk recollections.

I’m still fascinated by older bottles of wine, but my experiences with aged burgundy thus far have done little to alleviate my general fear of the entire region. For now I’ll bask in the safety of aged cabernet, it may not hold all the intrigue that apparently some burgundy possess (like that ’45 romanee I had a few weeks back) but they tend to have much sturdier life spans, and are just plain delicious. My fears of burgundy I’ll save for another post.

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Comments (1)

  1. 02/26/2012
    Ben C said...

    Still a pleasure to be a part, attic phlegm notwithstanding.

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