Wine Talk

Snooth User: playedwhatihad

1930's to 1950's old crate of Sauternes wine..need some help please

Posted by playedwhatihad, Oct 4, 2011.

I am using these dates based on the Illinois tax stamp of 15 cents.  We ran across an old crate marked Still Wine Sauternes F. Chauvenet Negociant A Margaux (Gridone) France.  It was imported by Corllion New York.  Bottles intact. We have no wine knowledge..so researching this was confusing.  I understand the region form where the wine came from, but I cannot find ANYTHING on this vintage wine.  Anyone ever heard of it? Is it drinkable? I have pics if anyone would like to see them. If you would prefer to answer me via email it is playedwhatihad@aol.com. All help is very much appreciated.

Replies

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Reply by ScottLauraH, Oct 4, 2011.

What are you trying to find out about the wine?

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Reply by playedwhatihad, Oct 4, 2011.

Because we found it in storage and we don't know anything about the wine.  Is it any good since its that old? Should we toss it..is it worthless or worth something? Keep the crate?  Who knows..just thought this forum might be the place to find out about it..internet research is tedious.

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Reply by outthere, Oct 4, 2011.

Toss it out. I'll be on the curb ready to catch it. Ha!

What is written in script under the F. Chauvenet? Not finding a Sauternes from them anywhere. The condition of the wine is dependant on how/where it was stored. If it was in a cool basement somewhere it may be areal nice find. Sauternes ages extremely well. What does it look like through the bottle? Is it golden or dark like molasses?

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Reply by playedwhatihad, Oct 4, 2011.

In script it is just the signature F Chauvenet

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Reply by playedwhatihad, Oct 4, 2011.

There is no sediment in the bottles.  It is like a bourbon--light carmel color

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Reply by Gundersen, Oct 4, 2011.

Where has the case been stored all this time - what conditions?

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Reply by playedwhatihad, Oct 4, 2011.

In dark storage underneath some junk..thats where it was for the last 20 years, and no clue where it was before that. 

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Reply by outthere, Oct 4, 2011.

What I would do at this point is open one and see if it's any good. No sense going any further if it's cooked from heat or simply past its' prime. It's a sweet dessert wine and if still drinkable would be quite nice. 

What size bottles? Are they 750's or 375's?

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Reply by playedwhatihad, Oct 4, 2011.

importers label says 1 pint 8 oz. 13% alcohol. I'm trying to find out more about this wine, and if it is indeed worth anything.  I would hate to crack open a bottle at this point in time. I just can't seem to find a source that lists F. Chauvenet as making a Sauternes. I also can't find wines from the 40's and very few in the 50's.  Still searching.

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Reply by Gregory Dal Piaz, Oct 4, 2011.

F Chauvenet, big negoce under the Boisset umbrella. From the color these sound like they are still intact, agreed that you should open one just to se what you have. If you cut away the capsule from the bottle neck is there a vintage on the cork by any chance?

 

 

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Reply by playedwhatihad, Oct 4, 2011.

I have contacted Boisset today, and have not heard back from them as of yet. I will let you know about the cork and tasting.

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Reply by Richard Foxall, Oct 4, 2011.

Wow, way more interesting than Al Capone's tomb... wait, that was a bust.  Okay, more interesting to me than Raiders of the Lost Ark.  In any case, even though I don't have much taste for sweet wines, this should be fascinating.  Let us know about the tasting and results from the folks at Boisset.  (Amazing the stuff GdP knows.  Guess that's why he gets paid to do this.)

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Reply by dmcker, Oct 4, 2011.

What was the temperature range over the course of a year for where that pile of 'junk' was stored?

As outthere said, sauternes in general can age well over several decades. However that's assuming they were a) well made in the first place from good grapes, b) from better vintage years, and c) stored well. The color you describe doesn't necessarily signify disaster, at all, but what are the conditions of the capsules, level of the wine in the bottle, etc.?

I'm most familiar with Jean Chauvenet in Burgundy these days. He makes very good wines in the Cotes de Nuits. Francois Chauvenet (don't know without a bit of research if they're related) used to make more than decent wines from Burgundy that I would run across back in the '80s, though I don't see them much anymore. 'F Chauvenet' is a label I've seen a couple of times for cheap chablis but also reds from Bordeaux even fairly recently. Outlying regions, no chateau or vineyard designations.

In effect they're a 'negociant' behaving like how wine's often packaged in Burgundy, but in Bordeaux. Cordier is another example of such activity in Bordeaux but they have a more public record and have owned a few real chateaux.

My guess is that F. Chauvenet's operation bought a bunch of cheaper sauternes grapes and bottled them for lower-range distribution to unstarred restaurants, the general export market, and the like. That's just a guess, but if true would likely mean that the bottles won't age as well as second or third-tier (much less first tier) sauternes or barsac from recognized chateaux. However, if the vintage is a good one, who knows? Maybe the semillon wine in those bottles might still hold some pleasant surprises.

I wouldn't expect there's much market value for what you've uncovered, but there could be many pleasant after-dinner drinks for you and family and friends from them, even if an occasional dead bottle that might not even be useful to cook with. So when the occasion seems right, crack some open and start drinking. Be sure to stand up the ones you want to drink a few days ahead of time to settle any sediment that may have developed, and to rest them from the trip up from the cellar or wherever that pile is. Keep the ones you haven't yet drunk on their sides in a dark, cool, restful (no vibration) place.

Finally, what are the actual vintages? That would be useful information.

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Reply by outthere, Oct 4, 2011.

The word I'm getting from the wine community is that it's no big deal. Lots of tongue-in-cheek offers to help find out in a tasting but no monetary value to make it worth trying to resell. Not a special wine by any stretch so give them a shot and maybe you will enjoy one of them. Keep us posted on your results, How fun!

I had a 66 CVNE Rioja that I received from a friends wife after he passed away. We popped it with her on a special evening and it was worse than death. But the excitement surrounding the opening was well worth it.

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Reply by playedwhatihad, Oct 5, 2011.

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Reply by playedwhatihad, Oct 5, 2011.

Thank you everyone! Have this bottle standing up for a couple days before opening.

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Reply by dmcker, Oct 5, 2011.

Color looks fine. Enjoy!

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Reply by Richard Foxall, Oct 6, 2011.

Even if it's no good, I'd consider saving one and the original case for curiosity.  You could also rent them out as props for movies, TV shows and the like.  You'd be amazed what my friend who is a set decorator/lead man/designer goes looking for.  In fact, he started a vintage cloth covered wire company because he had trouble finding it for sets.  (The wire inside is modern, but it looks exactly like old wire.  If you have a Nordstrom near you, it was in all their windows this summer for the "unplug for summer" theme.) Anyway, I'm sure someone will go looking for really old French wine for a show sometime, and, while they can fake labels and the like, they often want the real deal because it's easier than doing the research and coming up with something that they think looks right.

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Reply by EMark, Oct 6, 2011.

Played--

When you do try it, please come back to us and let us know the results.  Expiring minds want to know.

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Reply by dmcker, Oct 6, 2011.

However, Fox, most movies, and TV shows particularly, make no real effort towards realizing realism in their portrayal of wine bottles and their use during shootings. Whether it's off-colored koolade in the glasses, or labels made on a printer that says Bordeaux 1997 and nothing else in oversized stylized fonts crossing the label diagonally from lower left to upper right, there's a lot of unfathomably lazy props prep that goes on...


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