Amanda Schuster

Wine and spirits writer/consultant/marketer. Spirits expert w in depth knowledge of Spanish, Portuguese and Loire/Languedoc wines (you might say "bi-spiritual.") NYC born and bred food lover. Sometime jewelry designer. Overall broad about town.

Drinking From Someone Else's Cellar

Rank Wine Rating Price
1 Château Talbot Red Bordeaux Blend St. Julien (1982)
Comments: I've had the luck to taste several Bordeaux from this vintage in recent years. I think this one had the most life. The dark fruits were still very present, with purple flower aromas, and even a bit of a meaty presence. The finish fell a bit short, letting us know it had crested the hill and was on its way down. Still, it was a pleasure to drink.
Average price: $317.75 from 9 stores
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2 Chateau Pichon Lalande (2005)
Comments: Yeah, there are days I really love my life. Getting to taste wines like this is a part of them. Very generous on the nose, with violet, plum and thyme aromas. On the palate it's rich without feeling weighty. Darker fruits, more earth, a hint of cocoa nib, flowery aromas have more expression. Kept evolving and giving in the glass. So happy this was opened at the right time. This will keep getting better for the next few years, but don't wait too long.
Average price: $99.99 from 56 stores
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3 Château Carbonnieux Sémillon-Sauvignon Blanc Blend Pessac-Léognan Blanc (1988)
Comments: This is my first Bordeaux blanc with some real age to it. It's oxidized to become more like Heredia white Riojas or white Musar from Lebanon, with some mushroomy, nutty flavors (which to me is not at all a bad thing). Still some acidity left, though more like a caramelized lemon than a fresh one. Not the classic way to drink it, I guess, but I quite enjoyed it.
Previously available for $40.00
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4 J. Vidal-Fleury Gigondas (1989)
Comments: Fruits are still very much alive, with some characteristic grenache cocoa. The spice that might have once been there is a little muted. Some rhubarb-like minerality balances it out. Was definitely a value for its time if it lasted this long.
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5 Château Lafaurie-Peyraguey Sémillon-Sauvignon Blanc Blend Sauternes (1988)
Comments: Fantastic aged Sauternes. Warm candied fruit flavors, cashews, burnt sugar but acidic grip hangs on like its climbing Everest. Such a treat. Was amazing with creme caramel. Would probably still be very much alive for years to come.
Average price: $103.00 from 12 stores
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6 Von Schubert Maximin Grunhauser Abtsberg Auslese (1983)
Comments: This could possibly be one of the most gorgeous wines I've ever tasted, and gets a solid full glasses. Apricot, honey, caramel, hazelnut, ending in a rich, nearly oxidized finish. There was still an acid balance mingling with the perfumed aromas and sweetness. Such a beauty. Not sure how much longer it will be this powerful.
Average price: $43.20 from 1 store
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7 Castello di Querceto Chianti Classico Riserva (1990)
Comments: This wine was surprisingly giving and alive, despite its advanced age (these things can go either way, as we know). Thankfully, this bottle aged with grace, and kept getting better in the glass. Excellent perfume and structure, with lip-smacking cherry, bark and almost hamlike, meaty flavors with some good residual acidity. If you're lucky enough to have a bottle of this, drink it soon.
Previously available for $195.00
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8 Château Gruaud Larose Red Bordeaux Blend St. Julien (1975)
Comments: Maybe the bottle I drank wasn't as well stored as some others. Generally, G-Larose has incredible longevity, retaining fruit and structure for decades. Upon opening, the fruit and perfume was still present, but muted. After a while, it just turned to soy sauce. Still, a worthy effort from an "altacocker" such as this.
Average price: $153.57 from 9 stores
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9 Ridge Vineyards Zinfandel Howell Mountain (1982)
Comments: Surprisingly still full of life for the first hour it was opened. Tart berry fruit and spice fighting for survival on the palate and nose. Started to die out, but very fun to drink while it lasted. Sure it was amazing in its prime.
Previously available for $39.99
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10 Iron Horse Vineyards Pinot Noir Green Valley Estate Rosé de Pinot Noir (2010)
Comments: Gorgeous sparkler. Vibrant strawberry and tart cherries, delicate bubbles, slightly biscuity. A perfect aperitif!
Average price: $44.49 from 57 stores
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