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Pol Roger Extra Cuvee de Reserve 1976

So my elderly neighbour discovered this buried at the back of his closet, and gave it to me as a gift for helping him out.

It’s in relatively good condition and well sealed, though having not been stored in a temperature controlled environment for the past 45 years, one does wonder.

To those of you with experience of such things, do you think it’s likely to be:

a) drinkable, at all?
b) enjoyable?
c) worth anything?


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Ooooh! I love me a game of fine wine or vinegar!

Can a good champagne last that long? Definitely. It’ll accentuate the toasty/autolytic notes and become honey’d and much nuttier. This is a vintage champagne from a good house, so there’s definitely potential.

Has this one survived? Only one way to find out! Have some fun (and a back up).

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My closest personal comparison would probably be the Pol Roger Cuvee Sir Winston Churchill 1979. We drank a bottle of that at Christmas and it was excellent. It had lost some of its fizz but was long, nutty and complex. So definitely 1970s Champagnes can still be good.

Michael Broadbent rated the 1976 champagne vintage highly and I recall many good wines - especially Dom Perignon and Ruinart Blanc de Blancs. I have no notes on the Pol Roger.

I agree with @strawpig - got to be worth trying!

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Someone here once suggested having a young, fresh NV champagne to hand, so that if the ancient bottle is past it, the two can be mixed. Apparently you can get the best of both.

I hope it’s been stored lying down!

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I’m going to hope you enjoy it, even if it ain’t all that. Old wine is a treat, and there is no reason why it couldn’t last that long. Please let us know how it was.

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How exciting! Even if it’s horrible, just the label and the cork, once opened, will bring joy. We all worry about storage, but when my father in law died a few years ago we shared a variety of very minor clarets from the 1960s and 70s, plus a bottle of port from the 1920s. Yes, some were past it, but a couple were fab. And all were a treat as they were a bit of history. Give it a bit of theatre and I’m sure the experience will be enjoyable. You don’t get these opportunities often.

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[School yard chant] Drink it, drink it, drink it

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Definitely worth opening, champagne can be surprisingly hardy as long as it hasn’t be subject to light strike.

I would advise having a bottle of Pol white foil NV on hand. If it is a bit flat and somewhat overly mature, but not actively unpleasant, you can try perking it up in a 50:50 blend. If it is stuffed, you can drink the white foil.

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Is this necessary for a fizz ? I’m pretty sure JR has advised storing them upright. Apparently there is that layer of undissolved CO2 which protects the wine. I’ll try and dig out the reference but it was years ago I read it.

Edit - JR writes in the OWC that there is no evidence either way but there was a thread in the JR forum about this in 2016 and none other than Brad Greatrix contributed :-

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Here’s one view

“How to store Champagne at home - ask Decanter” How to store Champagne at home - ask Decanter

There are undoubtedly other opinions out there, and personally I don’t have experience of keeping champagne for this long, but I’d have thought that 40 years standing in a cupboard might well dry out the cork.

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i think, @joem there is no excuse now for not popping it and telling us all !

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I’m in agreement, for shorter term storage it seems fine to store upright but for extended ageing over years laying down will be better to keep the cork from drying out .

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Can’t resist being a bit nerdy, but I can’t see how that would make any difference. The amount of oxygen trapped in the bottle is unchanged, regardless of how much CO2 comes out of solution - once the cork goes in, it’s got nowhere to go. Whether or not it’s mixed with carbon dioxide is irrelevant, and the whole lot will just mix by diffusion and become homogeneous - the CO2 isn’t going to form a protective layer for very long, if at all. And it matters not whether it’s on its side or upright - the volume of gas will be the same.

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Just recalling what I read some time ago, it’s not my own “theory” !

but thinking it through surely a sparkling wine being corked immediately after disgorging is still effervescing at the time and the concentration of regular air (mainly nitrogen of course) in the neck headspace will be reduced, plus there will be a stabilisation of that gas in the neck which would be affected by the partial pressure of CO2 being released into it from the wine until the pressures equalise. It’s what, six atmospheres and all the additional gas comprising that will be CO2 ? Any physicists who know what they are talking about out there ?

No. Such a thing does not exist (except possibly in at a single point in a vacuum in frame of reference S). What’s this got to do with champagne? (not my area of expertise sorry)

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Physical chemist, not physicist, surely :wink: I’m not one, but I’m married to a chemistry teacher.

It’s possible that the fact that sparkling wine is effervescing when corked will make a difference to the amount of oxygen that’s trapped (all air is mostly nitrogen, whether or not the wine is sparkling - it’s the oxygen that matters). But there’s no effect of “stabilisation of that gas in the neck” that affects the concentration of oxygen - where do you think it goes? Carbon dioxide comes up to join it, but that’s all.

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yep, you and @strawpig have eloquently and comprehensively demonstrated that I have no idea what I’m talking about. This is not a new experience for me though.

And, tbf, those few bottles of sparkling currently in my possession are in the standard horizontal position due to custom and convenience.

Sorry! I was snarking at my training/former career and the concept “physicists who know what they’re talking about” rather than you.

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