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Wine Searcher & Branaire-Ducru 1966

I’ve just realised – last night in fact – that my wine searcher page was broken. I have no idea how long for, but I suspect for several months. It is now fixed of course, ready once again for your wine retail or wine value enquiries.

This was brought to my attention by Brian, who wrote:

My wife and I would appreciate your comments and thoughts on a single bottle of wine discovered in a corner of her father’s house after he died a few years ago and, since then, it’s been sitting in a corner of our house in Perth, Scotland. We’re inclined to send/deliver it to a specialised auction rather than opening it.

From the top, the label reads: Grand Cru Classe; new line – 1966; new line Chateau Branaire; new line (Duluc-Ducru); new line St Julien Medoc; new line (Appellation Saint-Julien Controllee; new line : J. Tapie, Proprietaire (Gde); new line Mis en bouteille au chateau and I’ve left out accents and some capitals etc.

While the red seal is not complete (ie its tidy but shorter than when it was applied) the seal remains fully effective and while there’s a small amount of bits of gubbins inside the neck of the bottle below the cork there seems to be no dregs or whatever inside the bottle at the bottom which, since we’ve had it, we’ve stood upright.

As a long-standing member of the Wine Society I’m asking the folk there for their comments but we came across your details on the web and we’d appreciate any thoughts and comments you might have.“

And my response:

Hi Brian

You have a cru classé claret from Branaire-Ducru, an estate about which you can read in my profile.

Your storage is likely to have been the death knell of this wine, sadly, as what it needed was a cool place with a stable temperature where it could be left lying down, thus keeping the wine in contact with the cork, keeping it moist and fully expanded and thus protecting the seal. It sounds as though you have stored it upright for several years – the exact opposite of this. In addition, does a “corner of our house” mean a room where it can be seen? The temperature in an occupied room – being typically 20C or higher – is too high for the storage of this wine, especially as it swings about with the central heating going on and off.

You mention the red seal being “shorter than when it was applied” which sounds unusual. Do you mean it is shorter than most capsules on modern wine bottles, so short that you can see the cork? Back in the 60s (and certainly on some bottles I have had from as recent as the early 80s) the capsule (which was probably lead in those days) were shorter than you would expect to find today.

The presence of “gubbins” is neither here nor there and should be expected in old wine. It could be decanted off.

As for auctioning this you could look at retail values through my wine-searcher link on the home-page. Note though that this will incur carriage costs and also there will be commission, so for a single bottle would it be worth it? The price, if it reflects the provenance here which is not good, will not be anything like the retail prices you see. I would also question the probity of an auction house that took on a bottle with such a dodgy history unless it made that history clear in the catalogue.

Hope this helps, sorry that it is perhaps not what you wanted to read.”

Brian then replied to confirm my suspicions about storage in the living room, and also to talk more about the capsule (what he meant by seal) which seems to have been mostly removed in the past perhaps to inspect the cork, although the label seems legible, so why should this be?

And then he mentioned that the wine value thingy didn’t seem to work. And as I said at the start of this post, I’ve fixed it. My apologies if anybody else had found this to be broken.

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