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Old 18-07-2004, 12:29 AM
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Default advice sought on buying wine collection

hello all-

i have run across a friend of the family that is selling off a deceased
relative's belongings, including a 400-bottle wine collection. lots of cabs
from the early 80s, bordeaux, rothschild, gilette, etc.
this seemed to have been stored in a room temperature environment, in a lower
level of the house, in an upright, wooden wine cellar.
is there any way to tell if the wines are good or not? I think they have all
been here for at least 19-20 years. is there something I should be looking for
as a tell-tale sign of spoilage? or as long as they have been stored properly (
horizontal) in a dry, room-temp environment, should I trust that they are OK?

Thanks so much for the advice-


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Old 18-07-2004, 03:54 AM
Cwdjrx _
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Default advice sought on buying wine collection

You would have to have much more information to know. First, what is the
average storage temperature, and how much variation is there from the
average on both a short term and long term basis. I would be very
unlikely to buy any wines that had been stored at an average temperature
of much over 60 F for up to 20 years. Also I would not want to buy wines
for which the temperature varies over more than a very few degrees over
a day.

The next thing depends om the specific wines. Some are not made to last
up to 20 years and would have declined even under ideal storage. You
mention Rothschild. There is Lafite-Rothschild and Mouton-Rothschild
that will sometimes improve for well over 20 years with good storage.
However in light vintage years they may not improve very long. Some
Caliifornia Cabernets can last well over 20 years with good storage,
while many others will be in decline. For example, even a 1961
Mouton-Rothschild or a 1959 Lafite-Rothschild should be outstanding with
proper storage at under 60 F with little short term temperature
variation. However many Bordeaux wines from 1984 might now be far into
decline even if stored correctly.

It is a sad fact that many collect large cellars of wines, but do not
store them properly and do not keep track of when they are ready to
drink. Nearly any wine auction house buyer can tell you horror stories
of cellars that would be worth $US 100000. if the wine had been properly
stored, but that are nearly worthless because of poor storage. Someone
who knows some of he wines for sale needs to taste some of these wines.
An auction house would insist on tasting some to avoid buying
storage-damaged wines.

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