Closeout Wines for Keeping

“Paul, I need your input. A friend of mine is a beer distributor. Recently he purchased a “closeout lot” of wine. A beer and wine wholesaler had gone out of business, and he had bid on their in­ventory. Knowing about my interest in wine, he offered me the opportunity to purchase any that I wished at his cost. There are 7 wines:

1.) Chenin Blanc Sec ’79, HMR Vineyards

2.) Cabernet Sauvignon,’76.HMR

3.) Moselblumchen

4.) Vouvray-Sec ,’81

5.) Chateau Belair, ’82

6.) Cabernet D’Anjou, ’84

7.) Amarone,’77

The price is right. They are all $1.50 a bottle. Are there any I should buy for keeping?”

– W.S. Norco; CA

Interesting, somewhat precarious, and educational, if nothing else!

Here is what you do:

Give your friend $10.50 and ask him to bring you a bottle of each. Try them all at room temperature, and make your deci­sion on taste, taking into consideration my comments on each wine below.

No.1: A winery that went belly up about 4 years ago. Their Chenin Blanc was not much, most of the time. I pre­dict this bottle will not be sound. Must be on its way to oxidation.

No.2: Now this could be a different sto­ry for an HMR wine. They did make some superb cabernet vintages. If the wine was well stored, it could have some more life to it, or it might be at its peak. Would be a steal at that price, if the wine was still okay.

No.3: A low end, generic German wine from the Mosel region. Decent when young, somewhat sweet, and with no ageing potential. Since you did not give a vintage date, I cannot comment further. If it is non-vintaged anyway, then let your taste be your guide, and purchase it only for current consumption.

No.4: Most dry Vouvray wines (Chenin Blanc from the Loire region of France) lose their charm after 3 or 4 years. Depending on the maker, I suspect this wine is on its way over the hill.

No.5: Could be one of four by the same name from different parts of Bordeaux. Since you did not give me the appella­tion, I can only say that one is very fa­mous, the other three only average. 1982 was a very good vintage, so if you like the wine, and find it sound, it could be worth laying some down.

No.6: A red wine made from Cabernet Franc grape growing in the Loire Valley of France. Could be rather good, and has some ageing ability.

No.7: This wine can be a gem. Made by a special technique in Italy of using red grapes that have been allowed to partially dry, and then fermented. If you find the wine sound, and you like its style, then it could be a find.

The moral of the story is that you should buy based on your taste, or the taste of someone else who is knowledge­able. If you buy by the label, you run the chance of getting some mediocre to off to downright bad wines that have gone over the hill.

Closeout wines are precarious, because of the “ageing principle” of wine. However, on very rare occasions, I have found wines at their peak of development in the closeout bins!

Taste before you buy!!!

– P.K.

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