Monday we went to Betsy’s sister for a light dinner (salads and cheeses )
and to exchange presents. Couple of wines were opened
2004 Mugnier “Clos de Marechale” Nuits St George 1er Cru
While I’m not especially pyrazine sensitive, I had found a bottle of this
a couple years ago to be seriously flawed by greenie meanies. But decided
to bring one and give it a shot. Surprised, there’s some light pine needl
e and herb notes here, but nothing like what I remembered. Black cherries,
smoke, oregano. Medium acids, tannins receding. Pleasant if not profound. B
Mas de Gourgonnier Rouge Les Baux de Provence 2011
Very herby, pepper, dark fruits, juicy and fun. B/B+
We were planning a quiet NYE, but got a call from Dave and Mary Kate inviti
ng us to her parents’ home- they were cooking dinner. A nice table of 9,
with fish tacos, goat tacos, chorizo tacos (and all the trimmings) , roaste
d kale, arugula salad
2010 Tilia Malbec-Cabernet Sauvignon
Fruit driven, juicy, straighforward and well-done. B-/B
2011 Mark West Pinot Noir
I found this a bit clipped and cloying, others liked more. C+
2011 Occhipinti Frappato
Killer, ripe cherries, earth, iron, smoke. A-
2010 Bosco Falconeria Catarratto
I carried this as I thought MK’s parents and siblings would like to taste
a wine from estate they worked this summer, but it was corked
Home for some oysters we had gotten for an appetizer, with the 2011 Michelo
t Bourgogne blanc. Intensely lemony, green apple, good food wine. B
We puttered around the house, but made it till the ball drop, with a toast
with the NV Pierre Peters “Cuvee de Reserve” Blanc des Blancs. Chalk, p
each blossoms, biscuit dough, bright and refreshing. B+/A-
We got a last minute invite for New Year’s lunch, were greeted with the N
V Tribaut Brut, nice crispness, but a little coarse and a tad sweet. B-
Lunch was saffron risotto (made by a talented 11 year old!), a mushroom/tom
ato salad, and braised endive. I had carried along a 1966 Ch. du Tertre as
it is host’s birthyear, and I wanted to try my new Durand (I liked!). Win
e was showing a bit tired, but still had some interest- leather and wet lea
ves over some black cherry fruit, nice complexity, but some hints of prune
and ashtray make me guess this would have been better 10-20 years ago. B-
New Year’s dinner was Judy Rodger’s chicken bouillabaisse , but of cour
se with blackeyed peas (actually black eyed pea cakes made with corn meal,
a recipe from Atlanta Journal-Con last week) and collard greens. Gamay seem
ed like a nice light way to start year, so we went with the 2011 Chermette
(Domaine du Vissoux) “Cuvee Traditionelle” Beaujolais. A little tight
at first, opens well, full for Beaujolais AC, cherries and raspberries, ear
th tones, good acids, singing. B++
Grade disclaimer: I'm a very easy grader, basically A is an excellent wine,
B a good wine, C mediocre. Anything below C means I wouldn't drink at a pa
rty where it was only choice. Furthermore, I offer no promises of objectivi
ty, accuracy, and certainly not of consistency.
I wanted to try my new Durand (I liked!).
I also bought a Durand old wine bottle opener and it is scheduled to arrive
in2 days if the UPS truck is not delayed by bad weather.
I have a few old wines going back to the early 1800's, so I should be able
to give the Durand a very severe test. I have hopes that both a screw and t
wo side blades will work on more bottles than a corkscrew with only a screw
or 2 blades. There has to be some limit for the Durand though because at l
east a little downward force must be applied to the cork to start either a
screw or 2 blades. I have seen some very old wines that have corks complete
ly free with the wine sealed by only the metal capsule. I would not taste s
uch a wine, since it might not be safe because many old capsules are lead.
There are a few devices to fish a cork out of the bottle, and some work fai
rly well. I also have port tongs which work very well. For me, I would use
port tongs as a last resort, because they require a fireplace or range with
gas burners to heat enough. Else you can start an outdoor charcoal grill t
o heat the tongs.
LOL. Pushing the cork into the bottle is what I always end up doing!
Even if I didn't want to, it ends up happening.
But I'd like to see the Durand (which I never heard of until Dale
mentioned it) in action, even though its price is way too much for me.
The Durand is the perfect Christmas gift. I have admired them as friends us
ed, but there's just no way I would pay that much. However, if I didn't dro
p a hint to Betsy, she was sure to spend $100-150 on something that I proba
bly hadn't wanted/needed. So to me the perfect Christmas gift is something
that I wanted, but felt too expensive.
They are really only intended for older corks, so if one doesn't open those
fairly often even more unrealistically priced.
I would guess that there are some extremely loose corks that might go in at
slightest touch (in which case just decant, of course). But the screw is v
ery sharp and well-angled, so I think 99% of time one can get it set withou
Bill, look forward to your report. One word of caution, just look at (simpl
e) instructions. Some people apparently have tried to re-insert the "ah so"
part in the slot in handle to screw when opening a bottle, that is only fo
used, but there's just no way I would pay that much. However, if I didn't d
rop a hint to Betsy, she was sure to spend $100-150 on something that I pro
bably hadn't wanted/needed. So to me the perfect Christmas gift is somethin
g that I wanted, but felt too expensive.
se fairly often even more unrealistically priced.
at slightest touch (in which case just decant, of course). But the screw is
very sharp and well-angled, so I think 99% of time one can get it set with
Before using any opening device on a very old wine,first remove any sealing
wax and/or metal capsule(usually lead)that may cover the top of the cork.
If part of the cork is above the top of the bottle, slice it off with a ver
y sharp paring knife. Then run a very sharp, small, paring knife tip all ar
ound the inside of the neck for a very short distance down. Then clean off
the cork of the bottle using water if necessary. If you found a metal capsu
le and the wine is fairly to very old, and there is any evidence that the w
ine has come in contact with the metal capsule, please discard the wine wit
Quite a few very old corks just crumble when using a screw only and drop th
ese crumbs into the wine rather than a whole cork. In such a case, filterin
g of the wine may be required. Also the old cork may be stuck just at the c
ontact between the cork and neck. An opener with two prongs will help "un-g
lue" this contact point. The two prongs may have to be given considerable d
ownward force to seat between the glass and cork. Using the small paring kn
ife trick may allow insertion of the prongs with less force. Also just a li
ttle slip can result in a cut finger. Buy your own knife and do not dull on
e belonging to a spouse. Else he/she may solve your problem by using the ba
ck of a meat cleaver that came with an expensive knife set to open the bott
ple) instructions. Some people apparently have tried to re-insert the "ah s
o" part in the slot in handle to screw when opening a bottle, that is only
ere is any evidence
d the wine without
Perhaps - better safe than sorry. Many owners of older wines, having corks
starting to leak or that are feared to start leaking soon,apply sealing wax
over an old metal capsule(often lead). Thus the wine may contact the metal
from the inside. One would have to do a chemical analysis to determine if
the lead content is high enough to cause worry. The allowed lead content fo
r liquids for drinking has greatly changed over many decades. Some even wor
ry about the lead content of wines and spirits stored in high lead content
fine crystal decanters for many years. Many of the substances contained in
wine can react with lead over a long time period. Some organic acids are pr
s starting to leak or that are feared to start leaking soon,apply sealing w
ax over an old metal capsule(often lead). Thus the wine may contact the met
al from the inside. One would have to do a chemical analysis to determine i
f the lead content is high enough to cause worry. The allowed lead content
for liquids for drinking has greatly changed over many decades. Some even w
orry about the lead content of wines and spirits stored in high lead conten
t fine crystal decanters for many years. Many of the substances contained i
n wine can react with lead over a long time period. Some organic acids are
I personally don't store any wine in lead decanters. Leaching increases gre
atly over time, and the higher the alcohol the faster it leaches. I also ta
ke great care to wipe top of any pre-1990 bottle carefully once capsule rem
oved (I realize likely little exposure from wine traveling over lip, but be
tter safe). But I think if what we are discussing is seepage or a saturated
cork indicating that wine might have had some contact, if wine smelled sou
nd I would risk trying. We get some lead even in our drinking water, I thin
k a glass of wine that might have some small contamination is unlikely to h
ave any health effects.
The problem with lead, and any heavy metal, is that it's a cumulative
poison, so repeated consumption of sublethal doses can prove just as bad
in the long term. There's no question that you can have a significant
deposit of lead oxide and lead acetate on the inner rim of older
bottles, so some care to remove the lead salts is certainly in order.
As Dale and CWD Jr say, lead from leaded glass decanters is also a
concern if one stores Port or Sherry in such decanters.
OK thanks for the clarification. But the amount of lead you could
consume from contact with a lead capsule has to be much smaller than
from a high lead content fine crystal decanter. Couple that with my
drinking very few older wines (because of cost, not choice), it's just
something that I don't worry about. And since I'm 76, the risk is
lower for me than it probably is for you.
"Ken Blake, MVP" writes:
I don't think it is something you should worry about, but let me point
out that a few hours in contact with a leaded crystal decanter should
result in _very_ little lead making it into the wine.
Whereas a few years in contact with a lead capsule may result in more
lead (though I expect still not that much) making it into the wine.
Both variables (the lead in lead crystal is harder to get out of the
crystal than the lead in lead foil, and the time of contact in
decanter is generally quite small whereas the time of contact with
foil could be decades) suggest that of the two sources of contact, the
foil one has more potential to be serious.
I definitely won't be giving a lot of old wine in foil capsuled
bottles to my two-year-old.
You are certainly right about a few hours vs a few decades. But on the
other hand (and this is what I meant) almost all the wine is in
contact with the decanter and only a tiny amount (if any) is in
contact with the capsule.