Hello there! I'm Dr. Vinifera, or "Vinny" for short. Ask me your toughest wine questions, from the technical aspects of winemaking to the fine points of etiquette. I hope you find my answers educational and even amusing. Looking for a particular answer? Check my archive and my FAQs. You can also follow me on Twitter: @AskDrVinny.
Dear Dr. Vinny,
I opened a bottle of Léoville Las Cases 1989 which had been cellared since purchase. In the glass, there were hints of brown on the edges where the wine contacted the glass. The wine was good but seemed past its prime. I have tasted another '89 Las Cases that was vibrant and definitely had not reached its peak. What could have caused this particular bottle to less than expected?
—Greg H., Midlothian, Va.
There's a saying in the wine world that "there are no great wines, just great bottles." It's hard to pinpoint the exact cause of bottle variation, but it sounds like you may have had a slightly defective cork that allowed some oxygen to get into the bottle, causing it to prematurely age. As a wine matures, it becomes more pale and takes on those brown tones you noticed. I hope your next '89 LLC is more like your first.
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