My Epiphany Wine

1982 Chateau Poujeaux


Purchased winter of 1985 for approximately $4.79 at Astor Wines in New York City.

Enjoyed shortly thereafter in my Upper West Side studio Apartment

I was well on my way to ruin by the winter of 1985, though it had not yet become apparent to me. My days as a wine-loving college student were fairly routine, though my routine was anything but routine. You see, I was a budding wine lover who had started out life slightly unbalanced and was simply applying that philosophy to my latest endeavor, and that endeavor was learning about wine.

So what was I doing, and how did I go about this. I had a simple plan actually and considering my typical mental state, it was shockingly methodical. You see, I had sort of decided to learn about one great wine region at a time by focusing on that region’s wines for a set period of time. This winter of 1985 it was to be Bordeaux, not just any Bordeaux mind you, but many of the exceptional 1982s that were then hitting the market.

But I lie. In fact, it wasn’t that many 1982s, there were also quite a few 1981s and 1979s in the mix. I didn’t plan it that way, economics did. You see, along with my slice of pizza piled high with mushrooms and prepared by Jimmy Page’s doppelganger (that I ate almost every night), I enjoyed some wine. I couldn’t afford to spend $5 a day on wine (that was real money back in the day), so I had to augment my drinking with $1.50 bottles of Serradayres and $2.50 bottles of Salice Salentino; but I was focused on Bordeaux.

It was back then that I realized that a really good bottle of wine comes in a single serving size. And if we were to be intellectually honest, we would, in fact, rate wines by how much of any particular bottle we consumed. We could even apply the 100-point scale to this scoring methodology, but I digress.

I would buy my Bordeaux by the case (had to get those mixed case discounts, you see). And I would spend hours, days even, planning out my next two cases, which would require me to scour the city, mark down prices, go back home, and add, subtract and divide all night long until I found the breakdown that allowed me to add 24 bottles of wine to my "cellar."

Once the wines were purchased and safely home, getting them there frequently involved me hiking across Central Park with a wooden Bordeaux case perched on my head; I did what any sane person would do. I removed all the capsules, put masking tape around the necks while wrapping each bottle in discarded newspaper! I was, to put it politely, a blind tasting madman.

And that’s how I tasted wine. I had a fair idea what I was tasting, but never knew the bottle, but slowly I did notice that one wine might have been leaner or richer than the last. I learned to feel the vintage in each wine. So what if I frequently got it wrong? That wasn’t the point. The point was to let the wine speak without any mental interruption and to that end, my system worked brilliantly.

And while I enjoyed Bordeaux, I failed to see what the fuss was all about. I mean, I was spending good money on this stuff, $4 or even $5 a bottle, so to put it in today’s vernacular, "WTF?" And then it happened.

Now don’t ask me why exactly, because I don’t exactly remember, but I ended up sitting on the toilet with a glass of what turned out to be 1982 Chateaux Poujeaux in my hand. I kid you not. The lights were off, as was the television, and I was alone with my wine. I took a sip of the wine and in what was certainly but a few seconds, my life changed.

Those few seconds are still clear to this day. Not only did the wine speak to me, but a torrent of what will be poured forth from that glass. In those few simple seconds a curtain was lifted and I saw that behind the tannins and under the acid was this beautiful blanket of fruit that had just been drawn back in anticipation of its grand unfurling. Like the snap of a wet towel, I saw the trajectory the wine was to take, and in one moment I finally "got" Bordeaux. Now I might be overstating my case a bit there, but I would say that that sip was the keystone of my understanding of how wine ages, and why we age it.

I bought a case of that 1982 Ch Poujeaux, actually got it as a Christmas gift since I couldn’t really afford a case of it, and I still have a handful of bottles in the cellar. They’re still quite good but certainly on their downslope. That wine certainly has changed, evolving, growing up and now growing old, but I have stayed much the same. A bit unbalanced, perhaps, and certainly far too sentimental to do what must be done with the remnant of the first case of Bordeaux I ever bought.

Want to submit your own epiphany wine experience and enter our contest? You could wine $250 - just read Your Epiphany Wine Contest on Snooth for all the details.

Mentioned in this article


  • Snooth User: Mark Angelillo
    Founding Member Hand of Snooth Voice of Snooth
    2 5,355

    A real coming of wine age story, GDP, and a very enjoyable read. Funny to think about how much has changed since then - but it's clear that your appreciation of the great juice has not wavered.

    Aug 11, 2011 at 2:30 PM

  • A great read, your passion comes through. Yes, it's moments like the above that keep us coming back for more of the "great juice."

    Aug 12, 2011 at 10:01 AM

  • Snooth User: Gregory Dal Piaz
    Hand of Snooth Voice of Snooth
    89065 238,748

    Indeed it is! Like I said I've got a bottle or 2 left, maybe we can plan a Snooth tasting to share it some day!

    Aug 12, 2011 at 10:47 AM

  • Snooth User: Nicki Gig
    Hand of Snooth
    178306 4,217

    really enjoyed this article and getting a glimpse of your life and passion of wine close to 30 years ago!!

    Aug 12, 2011 at 11:52 AM

  • Snooth User: Steveski
    Hand of Snooth Voice of Snooth
    129887 80

    Mine was a bottle of Bouchard Pere et Fils Beaune Teuron. We were the importer and I hadn't had much involvement or exposure to the Burgundy portfolio, but heck, we were able to buy it at acquisition cost, so for a bout four bucks I had a bottle of good stuff. Made lamb that night and the pairing left me dumbstruck. a loss for words...I was was Soooooooooo indescribably fantastic I just ate and drank and enjoyed. I've had La Tache and Échezeaux since, but gotta say, that was that hooked me.

    Aug 12, 2011 at 11:56 AM

  • Snooth User: diapalino
    286379 0

    OK, this is a little more than simply coming of age wine-wise. The scene is Wash DC, a hot, sweaty July night, at a friend's house, everybody boogying....the high water mark of the disco era....I am about to give up on the evening but invoke the "three tequilla shot" rule....if you have no action by 11PM, either go home or take 3 tequilla shots and its back to the dance floor. I chose the latter. I see a cute, girl next door type in the corner -- remember circle pins? -- and say, OK, let's give it a whirl. After about five minutes of "the bump" she says: "Hey, all I'm gettin is ass, don't you have any fun parts?" I say thank god for tequilla.....three days later when we come up for air, we go out to dinner, have a bottle of Mouton Cadet, and like it....she says "wanna split a case?" I didn't know what those words meant.....anyway, you asked....that's my story and I'm stickin to it.....

    Aug 12, 2011 at 4:01 PM

  • Mine was a 1965 Inglenook Cabernet Cask G-25. My wife and I were celebrating our second wedding anniversary on October 12, 1968, at a restaurant (name long gone) in Sacramento, California. It was a pretty big purchase for us at the time. I was a captain in the Army, and the pay was not that great.

    I grew up in northern California, so I had been around wine all of my life. I had an uncle who made his own wine in his garage, and we would gather at his house every Easter to uncork his newest vintage. We either shared a great wine or took home several bottles of great wine vinegar!

    The Inglenook cask wine was the best wine we had ever tasted. The setting was memorable, and the meal was superb. While we had enjoyed wine together since we met in college, I think this truly cemented our love of good wine. My wife and I have been married for 42 years and have many great memories of good wine shared together.

    Three days after having the Inglenook cask cabernet, I shipped out to Vietnam. During my time there, my wine drinking was limited to Lancers and something disguised as a chianti. As an intersting side story, one of the troops that served in the unit that I commanded turned out to be the son of the vineyard field foreman at Inglenook. My wife wrote me a letter one day to tell me that someone had left a case of Inglenook wines at the door of her apartment.

    Today, what was Inglenook is now Rubicon. We have some of the Rubicon Cask cabernet in our cellar and are looking forward to tasting it when we celebrate one of our upcoming anniversaries.

    Aug 12, 2011 at 5:24 PM

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