Wine Talk

Snooth User: Greg Jolliff

1978 Wines Found

Posted by Greg Jolliff, Dec 30, 2016.

While going through my grandmother's basement, we found 2 cases of wine. The first, 1978 Liebfraumilch Qualitatswein (with black pieces floating in it and an internet search that deemed it garbage even when bottled), and the second, Paul Masson Monterey County Chardonnay 1978 (Second Bottling). I've not been able to find anything out about the latter. I am not a Chardonnay drinker, but was wondering what, if any, value there was ~ 40 years later for the Paul Masson - or should it meet the same disposition fate of the Liebfraumilch?  Or does either have any value simply due to age (from collectors) regardless of drinkability?
Thank you!


Reply by rckr1951, Dec 30, 2016.

In all probability the PM is in the same state as the Lieb.  The bottles - unopened - may bring a few bucks to the avid collector, but I'm guessing probably not.  Keep a bottle of each for memories, open a bottle of each to wrinkle your nose up at and try and finally recycle the glass.

Good question though - thanks for posting.

Reply by dvogler, Dec 30, 2016.

Good advice Paul.

Reply by dmcker, Dec 31, 2016.

Don't automatically think the '78 Paul Masson should be dumped. Open a couple of bottles, drink, let sit awhile then drink again. There's definitely chardonnay that is still drinkable after 40 years, though it would need to be made well and stored properly. Odds aren't in favor, but stranger things have happened.

Also have another bottle handy you know you'll want to drink if the verdict is thumbs down on the '78. If thumbs up it may be useful for gifting to people who are open to being pleasantly surprised. It will never command any kind of price in the marketplace. Doesn't mean it can't be enjoyed as a drink if it is in decent condition.

Any idea how the cases were stored?

Liebfraumilch is never meant to be aged and should be quaffed when young. Not necessarily garbage, just cheaper, fresher wine. Can be nice out of barrels at drinking establishments in Germany, similar in some ways to drinking beer from tap.

Reply by Richard Foxall, Jan 4, 2017.

Were those cases stashed for posterity or just forgotten? 

Let's see, in 1978, I moved from California to MA.  The Red Sox and Yankees had a one game playoff.  Bucky Dent hit a home run to win it for the Yanks.  Keith Moon died that fall.  Earlier in the year there was a big blizzard in Boston.  (Part of how we came to live there.)  I crossed the country by car for the first time to make the move.

Oh, and Orson Welles was doing those Paul Masson commercials.  Somebody liked them enough to buy a case of Chardonnay. 

Reply by dmcker, Jan 5, 2017.

Forgot to post the Orson Welles link--glad you did, Fox! Definitely will help in enjoying that wine...  ;-)

Reply by rckr1951, Jan 5, 2017.

I had forgotten that commercial entirely and loved watching again.  Thanks for the memories.

Reply by Richard Foxall, Jan 5, 2017.

So this wine goes from not being sold before its time to being drunk well after its time.

If the OP comes back and wants to update his profile or PM me his location, I'll try this with him should he wish to share and provided he lives in one of the 7 Bay Area Counties.  I'm mildly curious. 

Paul Masson used to sell some of their wines in these carafes with a pop-off metal lid.  My parents bought a few for the carafes--they also drank a fair bit of that kind of wine at the time.  They might even still have the carafes.  I don't think varietal wines were packaged that way--there's no way a wine bottled like that lasts longer than it takes to ship, sell, take home and drink. 

Reply by dmcker, Jan 6, 2017.

They bottled several wines that way, including a 'Chablis' and a 'Burgundy', though I, too, can't remember any true varietals. I also bought some just to be able to use those carafes. They functioned well, in the bigger sizes even as decanters. Add in the time to ship overseas and transit the distribution system in a foreign country, and the wines were still drinkable back then, so they were pretty OK to start with. Market was very different then and there were plenty of lower end offerings that were diamonds in the rough.

Reply by Richard Foxall, Jan 6, 2017.

At least one of the images that came up right away was that "Chablis."  Some of those PM wines were pretty sound, which is why I volunteered to go taste them if they are in the Bay Area.  The carafes? I suppose the lids had to be pretty air tight, since they also had to avoid slopping over, and there's not a lot of ullage there.  More surface area, though.  I didn't find images of the varietal wines in carafe, but it doesn't mean none existed.  Some of them clearly came in regular bottles, because there were lots of images of those.  (I know, could be photoshopped, but who would bother?) There were also lots of images of "fruit wines." 

My oldest sister was married in '79 in Calabasas. We were living in Boston.  After the wedding, we came north to visit friends and, on the way to the airport, my father bought a mixed case of wine at Ernie's, which used to be a chain of liquor stores.  At the time, MA had very restrictive laws, leading to bad selection (lots of Soave) and high prices.  So my dad stocked up and we shipped the case as luggage, or maybe even carried it on the plane. I don't think there were any PM carafes in that.

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