1978 Chateau Pichon Longueville Comtesse de Lalande … and Other Wine

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40 year old wine is always a journey, sometimes into dissapointment, always into variability, and occassionally into greatness. While this 1978 Pichon-Lalande was not at the apex of aged Bordeaux, it was in perfect condition, absolutely delicious, and among the finest examples of old super-second Bordeaux that I’ve ever personally had.

A vintage 2000 Gaston-Chiquet Special Club champagne was perfect champagne (from a favourite grower-producer) in peak form.

A 2007 Forge de Tarte was only mediocre by my standards for the price point and reputation, consistent with a bottle I had about half a year ago.

A corked 2006 Chassagne didn’t add to the conversation.

Why do we chase after old wine? Despite the auction market, I think true wine lovers seek old wine because somehow it seems less commodified and more a magical art-object. It is harder to see this quality in the world of Bordeaux, which has become surrogate for wine-as-wealth and power. But these remain great wines that speak of a style, time, and climate that no longer exists. And that may be the bittersweet truth aged wine gives us: not nostalgia but recollection of another time in which climate-disaster was not upon us – wines that could never be made in today’s conditions. Perhaps this adds to the aesthetic merit of these wines, consumed rather than traded.


  1. Chris Wallace
    October 23, 2018

    Your comment about old wines speaking to another climate is spot on. We just got back from Oregon and climate was a big point of discussion with all the winemakers we met with. Some speculated, after 5 consecutive warm vintages (14 thru 18) that dry farming may not continue to be possible. This is Oregon where the risk was previously always rain at harvest! We see the effect of climate change everywhere and now we are tasting those effects as well.

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