Summer of ’69 | Château Margaux 1969

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Chinese New Year always means a busy January at Arden Fine Wines during a lull in our domestic market (dry January, no money left after Xmas etc etc).

We were tasked with getting a bottle (among others) of 1969 Château Margaux to Hong Kong for the New Year – but with not much notice…

This late-’60s Bordeaux vintage was the second-smallest crop of the decade after 1961.

The low yield and rampant inflation meant high prices when they were released.

This precious bottle was dispatched from London on a Friday afternoon and arrived in Hong Kong – via Paris, Mumbai, and Guangzhou – on Monday night (GMT).

Not bad going – but a bit of notice is always appreciated… 🙏

In the meantime, other vintages of Château Margaux are available from Arden Fine Wines.

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The 2023 anniversary vintage wines are a mixed bunch…

A year that began in crisis, 2022 did not conclude with peace and goodwill.

The biggest armed conflict in Europe since World War II rages on as Russia, with barbaric intensity and kamikaze drones, seeks to eviscerate its neighbour Ukraine.

Covid, diminished but not destroyed, continues to kill people across the world.

Annual inflation in the USA is running at more than 7%; in the Eurozone at over 9%; in the UK it is over 10%.

(It could be worse. In Zimbabwe, inflation was at 244% in December 2022.)

Planet Earth, understandably, remains in a sour mood.

There is more cause than ever, during these gloomy times, to break bread and open bottles with family, friends and neighbours.

How about an anniversary bottle?

The 2023 anniversary vintages wines are a mixed bunch.

Forty-, 60- and 70-year olds will be happy with what‘s on offer.

But 20-year and 50-year olds might be underwhelmed if and when they open a bottle of their birth-year vintage.

Here we go…

2013: Hanging on, Ten Years Gone… 

For tenth anniversary (not birthday!) celebrations in 2023, the best wines come from  Italy (great reds were made in Piedmont and Tuscany); California; South Africa, Australia; New Zealand; Argentina; and Chile.

The classic regions of Europe were hit and miss. The red wine regions of Bordeaux endured wet weather and hailstorms, though Sauternes produced nice wines.

Ten-year old examples from Champagne, Burgundy, and the Rhône Valley should all be good.

  • Soldiers enjoying Champagne Pol Roger
    2013 Pol Roger Vintage Champagne (6 x 75cl)
  • Soldiers enjoying Champagne Pol Roger
    2013 Pol Roger Vintage Champagne (3 x 150cl magnums)
  • 2013 Chateau Musar magnum
    2013 Chateau Musar (1 x 150cl magnum)
  • 2013 Domaine des Comtes Lafon Volnay Santenots-du-Milieu (1 x 75cl)
    2013 Domaine des Comtes Lafon Volnay Santenots-du-Milieu (1 x 75cl)

2003: Some Like It Hot 

The quality (or otherwise) of this vintage is a matter of taste.

The 2003 European heatwave was the hottest summer recorded in Europe since 1540. France was hit especially hard.

In viticultural terms, this very hot year meant fast ripening of the grapes; early picking; low acidity; and often high alcohol levels (14%+).

The resulting wines – in Bordeaux, say – were atypically “fruit-driven” and closer in style to modern Napa wines – which meant that they found favour in the USA.

Some years ago I was able to taste Château Pavie 2003 from a large bottle – a six-litre Imperial, I think.

The wine was an abomination, so drenched in new wood that it was a fire risk. The tannins were like barbed wire. It was no more drinkable than the contents of a fish tank.

As the late Clive Coates MW declared: “Anyone who thinks this is good wine needs a brain and palate transplant.” Of course the US wine critic Robert Parker loved it.

The good 2003s are like orchids in the desert. I have had much better experiences with Pichon-Lalande 2003 and – especially – Petrus 2003, which was an exceptional effort for the year. The moisture-rich clay soil at Petrus mitigated the extreme heat and meant that the resulting wine was not overcooked.

  • 2003 Petrus wine for sale at Arden Fine Wines
    2003 Petrus wine for sale (1 x 75cl OWC) SOLD

2002: “When we’re holding each other / I’m taken back to 2002…” 

For a 21st birthday or anniversary, excellent wines were made in Germany and Austria in 2002, though the classic regions of France and Italy were mostly undistinguished, with the exceptions of Burgundy and Champagne.

  • A 12-bottle wooden case of 2002 Chateau Latour
    2002 Château Latour (12 x 75cl wood case)
  • 2002 Croft Quinta Da Roeda
    2002 Croft Quinta Roêda Vintage Port (1 x 75cl)
  • 2002 Bunnahabhain Spanish Oak Finish | Fèis Ìle 2018 (1 x 70cl)
    2002 Bunnahabhain Spanish Oak Finish | Fèis Ìle 2018 (1 x 70cl)

1993 vintage wines: Slippery When Wet

A variable and very unfashionable Bordeaux vintage, the wines of which are rarely seen nowadays – mostly drunk-up, probably.

Sauternes was drenched in rain during the grape harvest and very little wine was made.

It was a decent year for red and white Burgundy from good producers who picked before the rain.

Tokaji was great.

  • The Macallan Sherry Oak 18 Years Old 1993
    The Macallan Sherry Oak 18 Years Old 1993 (1 x 70cl)
  • 1993 Screaming Eagle Cabernet Sauvignon
    1993 Screaming Eagle Cabernet Sauvignon (3 x 75cl in wood case) SOLD
  • Romanée-Conti wine label
    1993 Domaine de la Romanée-Conti | Romanée-Conti (1x75cl) | SOLD
  • 1993 Balvenie 23-Year-Old | DCS Compendium Chapter Three
    1993 Balvenie 23-Year-Old | DCS Compendium Chapter Three
  • View of vineyards at Vosne-Romanée in Burgundy
    Domaine de la Romanée-Conti Romanée-St-Vivant 1993 (six-bottle case) SOLD

1983 vintage wines: A Margaux I Should Turn To Be

A tremendous year in Margaux and Sauternes, inevitably always overshadowed by its glamorous predecessor the year before.

My favourite wine of this vintage is Château Margaux, the plump richness of which I have always enjoyed: drinking it was like diving onto a big, soft bed.

Palmer was also very good in 1983, though not as dense as the Margaux.

The 1983 Burgundy vintage was troublesome – frost, hail, heat, rain, rot – and yielded hard, tannic wines.

It was a good Rhône vintage and another big harvest in Champagne.

Vintage Ports from 1983 are often outstanding. The de facto “House Port” at Arden Fine Wines is 1983 Warre’s, several bottles of which have been enjoyed with friends and clients over the last couple of years, and it never disappoints.

  • 1983 Fonseca Vintage Port
    1983 Fonseca Vintage Port (1 x 75cl)
  • 1983 Chateau Beychevelle 4th Cru St Julien
    1983 Château Beychevelle (1 x 300cl double magnum) 龙船 葡萄酒
  • 1983 Warre Vintage Port
    1983 Warre Vintage Port (1 x 75cl)
  • 1983 Smith Woodhouse Vintage Port
    1983 Smith Woodhouse Vintage Port (1 x 75cl)

1973 vintage wines: America Triumphant 

Not great for red Bordeaux or red Burgundy and a difficult wine market at this time.

White Burgundy was better than 1970 but not as good as 1971. It was the second biggest Champagne vintage of the century and the wines were ok.

From California, it was the 1973 vintage of Chateau Montelena that triumphed over the French Chardonnays in the 1976 “Judgment of Paris” blind tasting.

  • 1973 La Rioja Alta Arden Fine Wines
    1973 La Rioja Alta Gran Reserva 904 (1 x 75cl) SOLD
  • 1973 Delamain Cognac | Early Landed | Bottled 1976 (1 x 70cl)
    1973 Delamain Cognac | Early Landed | Bottled 1976 (1 x 70cl)
  • 1973 Robert Lajane Volnay (1 x 75cl) SOLD
    1973 Robert Lajane Volnay (1 x 75cl) SOLD
  • A bottle of 1973 CVNE Imperial Gran Reserva
    1973 CVNE Imperial Gran Reserva (1 x 75cl bottle) | SOLD
  • Château Mouton Rothschild 1973 label by Pablo Picasso
    Château Mouton Rothschild 1973 (1 x 75cl bottle) 牛 PLEASE CONTACT US IF YOU ARE LOOKING FOR THIS WINE
  • Pétrus Pomerol exterior view
    Pétrus 1973 (1 x 75cl bottle) 牛 SOLD

1963 vintage wines: “life was never better than / In nineteen sixty-three…” 

Philip Larkin’s poem “Annus Mirabilis” begins:

Sexual intercourse began

In nineteen sixty-three

(which was rather late for me) –

Between the end of the “Chatterley” ban

And the Beatles’ first LP.

(I quoted another line from the poem in this section’s title. I wouldn’t want anybody getting the wrong idea…)

Vintage Port didn’t begin in 1963 – but it sort of restarted.

It was a watershed vintage of high quality and high volume (like 1927) that marked the turnaround of Port’s fortunes after post-war struggles. Some producers sold more wine than since the 1896 vintage.

Well-cellared examples of 1963 Port can be great wines for 60th birthday or anniversary celebrations in 2023.

Elsewhere, it was an abysmal Bordeaux vintage, including a notoriously bad d’Yquem that some contemporary wine buyers thought should not have been released.

Burgundy made very unlikeable wines.

But oh those Ports…

  • Chateau Mouton Rothschild 1963 label by Bernard Dufour
    1963 Chateau Mouton Rothschild (1 x 75cl) PLEASE CONTACT US IF YOU ARE LOOKING FOR THIS WINE
  • Billy Budd with Port labels by Valentino Monticello
    1963 Mackenzie’s Vintage Port (1 x 75cl)
  • Billy Budd with Port labels by Valentino Monticello
    1963 Offley Boa Vista Vintage Port (1 x 75cl)
  • Billy Budd with Port labels by Valentino Monticello
    1963 Cockburn Vintage Port (1 x 75cl)
  • 1963 Quinta do Noval at Arden Fine Wines
    1963 Quinta Do Noval Vintage Port (1 x 75cl) SOLD
  • Billy Budd with Sandeman labels by Valentino Monticello
    1963 Kopke Vintage Port (1 x 75cl)
  • 1963 Warre's Vintage Port (1 x 75cl) SOLD
    1963 Warre’s Vintage Port (1 x 75cl) SOLD
  • 1963 Taylor Vintage Port
    1963 Taylor’s Vintage Port (1 x 75cl)

1953 vintage wines: Coronation Street

A classic Bordeaux vintage in the year of the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II – one of the best of the 2023 anniversary vintage wines.

Some of the red wines and sweet whites could still be very good if they’ve been well looked-after.

Attractive red Burgundy was also made in 1953, though they are extremely rare nowadays.

  • Petrus Pomerol by Valentino Monticello in Bacchus and Ariadne
    1953 Petrus (1 x 75cl) PLEASE ENQUIRE
  • Chateau Mouton Rothschild 1953 label by
    1953 Château Mouton Rothschild (1 x 75cl) PLEASE ENQUIRE
  • 1953 Château Doisy Daëne SOLD
    1953 Château Doisy Daëne SOLD
  • Château Talbot 1953
    1953 Château Talbot (half-bottle) SOLD
  • 1953 Strathisla | 65 Year Old | Gordon & MacPhail Private Collection (43.5%)
    1953 Strathisla | 65 Year Old | Gordon & MacPhail Private Collection (43.5%) SOLD
  • A half-bottle of 1953 Château Lafite Rothschild
    1953 Château Lafite Rothschild (1 x half-bottle) SOLD

1943 vintage wines: Wor Vintage

The best of the wartime vintages, with most French wine regions making good wines in difficult circumstances.

A beautiful bottle of 1943 Château Margaux was acquired by Arden Fine Wines from a Newcastle auctioneer in 2022.

There was a wartime shortage of chromium, which gives glass a deeper green colour. Chromium was used – with iron – to make stainless steel rather than wine bottles. So wartime bottles like this Margaux are a pale green-blue.

From 1935 – when AOC was established – until 1952 Château Margaux had (unexpectedly, to modern eyes)“APPELLATION HAUT-MÉDOC CONTROLÉE” on the label. The Margaux AOC was not formalised until 1954.

1933 vintage wines: Down And Out In Bordeaux And Burgundy 

Light, attractive Bordeaux and Burgundy red wines can be sought out for 90-year olds as one of the 2023 anniversary vintage wines.

1923 vintage wines: Egyptian Nights

In the year that Howard Carter opened the tomb of Tutankhamun (which contained three wine amphorae), it was a vintage of attractive, light red wines in Bordeaux.

Château Rausan-Ségla, for example, had only 11% alcohol (and the 1933 vintage of which was bought in its entirety by Berry Bros & Rudd).

In London there was a spectacular thunderstorm overnight on 9th-10th July 1923 after temperatures had risen to 29C in southeast England.

In Southend-on-Sea – 35 miles east of London – there were rumours of a drought. Actually, the local authorities cut off the water supply temporarily to prevent a shortage of water while the town was overwhelmed by day-trippers visiting Southend Pier, the world’s longest pleasure pier, which was opened in 1889 and extends over 7,000 feet into the Thames Estuary.

Following Arden Fine Wines’ trip to Southend, there might now be a shortage of 1923 vintage wines…

From the 18-acre Richebourg vineyard in Vosne-Romanée, a Bouchard Ainé & Fils bottling was a rare centenarian survivor from the 1923 vintage that came to us from an Essex cellar, in or near Southend.

  • 1923 Bouchard Ainé & Fils Richebourg
    1923 Bouchard Ainé & Fils Richebourg SOLD

To Infinity and Beyond… 

Anybody celebrating a 130th birthday could try to find a bottle of 1893 Bordeaux.

Perhaps the best red wine of this vintage was Château Margaux. Château d’Yquem was also outstanding.

The last “3” vintage to mention here is 1863 – a great Port vintage.

And that is where we end the 2023 anniversary vintage wines…

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From my friend Vic Mills:

“Hi Stuart,

A relatively calm final quarter of 2022 by project standards, yet one not without its moments. There were eleventh hour kit donations from Sussex and Nottinghamshire; pictures of winter training sessions from beneficiary clubs; a (from behind the sofa) look at project finances; an insight into our kit distribution regime; project books and birthdays; and, by way of rewind, a glimpse at past Diwali celebrations. Much to interest and entice then over that next cup of coffee or glass of red.



View the PFF newsletter here.

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Taylor-made | 1948 and 1963 Taylor’s Vintage Port

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Two exception bottles of Taylor’s Vintage Port…

A total of 30,000 pipes – the traditional Douro barrel of 534 litres that was taken as the equivalent of 60-dozen bottles – was made in 1948. That’s 21,600,000 bottles of Port…! But there aren’t many left.

Arden’s bottle of the renowned 1948 Taylor’s Vintage Port came from the cellar of Tibberton House at Great Malvern in my birth county of Worcestershire.

As far as we can tell, this ’48 was originally retailed – and probably bottled – by Josiah Stallard and Sons of Worcester.

Josiah Stallard was born in 1816 and became Mayor of Worcester in 1857. He was photographed that year by Herbert Watkins; the photo is in the collection of the National Portrait Gallery.

  • 1948 Taylor Vintage Port
    1948 Taylor’s Vintage Port (1 x 75cl) SOLD

Our 1963 Taylor’s has a Wine Society label and came from a private cellar in deepest south London.

It’s in excellent condition for its age (like me 😁) and should be a great glass (or six) of Vintage Port.

Same-day delivery to London addresses (if you’re absolutely desperate for Vintage Port); elsewhere in the UK please allow two working days for your kind order to arrive; worldwide delivery is available too.

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Extra dry humour | 1988 Pol Roger Extra Dry Champagne

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Ah, the French are very good at sensible names for their wines…

A champagne labelled as “Extra Dry” (by Pol Roger or anybody else) is obviously dry, ain’t it?

Actually, Extra Dry (or Extra Sec) is – incongruously – a sweeter style of champagne, with about 15 grams per litre of sugar, compared to Pol Roger’s Brut Réserve NV at about 10 g/ltr and Rich Demi Sec at 34 g/ltr.


Having previously sold a bottle of 1976 Pol Roger Extra Dry, Arden recently acquired a bottle of 1988 Pol Roger Extra Dry (from a client in Cheshire).

The ’88 was highly-regarded by the late great Michael Broadbent MW, who noted in his Vintage Wine book “Nearly 20 notes… Consistently good but also consistently noting that it could take more bottle age… splendid flavour and length – and that crucial refinement, finesse”.

As far as I know, the Extra Dry bottling was not made after 1996. I haven’t seen any vintages of it after then, at any rate.

From a very good vintage – arguably the best of the 1980s (though 1982 and 1985 have their claims) – it’s an ideal bottle for Sunday lunch on 25th December (or whenever you like)… 🎄

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A Climens Conundrum… | 1976 Château Climens

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Recently Arden Fine Wines acquired a bottle of Château Climens from a private seller.

The bottle shows no vintage where it should be, at top-centre of the label.  But otherwise all present and correct, including “73cl” – rather than 75cl – as the volume.

  • Chateau Climens Sauternes
    1976 Château Climens (1 x 73cl) SOLD

The “73 cl” (73 centilitres) on the label suggests a vintage after 1973, when the UK acceded to the European Communities (EC).

Under longstanding British consumer law it remained an offence to give short measures – hence the “baker’s dozen”.

So 75cl bottles of French wine for the UK market stated 73cl, though they were filled to 75cl (most of the time, anyway).

At a guess, the bottle was 1984, which was a “declassified” Climens vintage that was released as Cypres de Climens.

Is it possible that some 1984 was retained at the château and labelled with an old 73cl etiquette and no stated vintage? Maybe…

I contacted Château Climens to ask if they could tell me what vintage this bottle was.

The reply was: “Malheureusement, sans millésime sur l’étiquette, le seul moyen de vérifier qu’il s’agit bien d’une bouteille de Château Climens 1984 est le marquage bouchon…”

So the capsule was cut to have a look at the cork.

And the vintage turned out to be…

1976 Climens cork

…1976, one of the great Sauternes vintages of the 20th century.

As Alexandra at Climens noted, “la couleur du vin est magnifique” – as amber as a setting sun.

The ’76 Climens should be a great glass (or several) of aged Sauternes.

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1945 Pol Roger at Middle Temple

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1945 Pol Roger Extra Cuvée de Réserve… 🍾

This very rare bottle was opened by Arden Fine Wines for our friends at Middle Temple.

It was born at about the same time that Pol Roger’s greatest fan Sir Winston Churchill first met Odette Pol Roger, at a lunch given by the British Ambassador to France Alfred Duff Cooper in Paris on 12th November 1945.

What was the 1945 Pol like? Well, it’s best days are behind it… But it’s always a privilege to drink wines of this age and rarity from great vintages.

#ArdenFineWines #PolRoger #Champagnelife #Champagne #MiddleTemple #1945vintage #1945polroger

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From my friend Vic Mills:

“Hi Stuart,

Project greetings from a decidedly autumnal Berlin.

Please find attached the latest – Autumn Collection Special – newsletter. As you might imagine, it was another busy quarter for the project. Included in the edition – along with our various travels – is a pictorial late season look at project beneficiaries, a fond Mumbai memory, a cricketing suggestion for the upcoming festive season, and much, much more.

Hope this finds you well and, despite the time of year, in peak mid-season form.



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Lafite of endurance | 1982 Château Lafite Rothschild

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When Château Lafite’s 1982 vintage was released in 1983, it was sold ex-cellars by UK wine merchants to private clients at about £300 per dozen.

Today, £300 would buy you about 75ml of 1982 Lafite (from #ArdenFineWines, anyway 😁).

It remains the most expensive vintage available of Lafite – more even than 1945, 1949, 1953, 1959, 1961…

Well-cellared examples of 1982 Lafite (like this one) can still be outstanding but if over-traded and over-travelled – some ’82s have been round the planet more times than the International Space Station – they can be disappointing.

Arden’s bottle of this sought-after wine travelled all the way from Bordeaux to Sussex, where we acquired it from a local cellar via an auctioneer.

And now it’s in our London cellar, awaiting a new home…

#ChateauLafiteRothschild #pauillac #france #bordeaux #1982Lafite #1982Bordeaux #London #Mayfair

  • A bottle of 1982 Lafite Rothschild at Arden Fine Wines in Mayfair, London
    1982 Château Lafite Rothschild (1 x 75cl) SAME-DAY DELIVERY TO LONDON ADDRESSES
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CEO Sleepout UK 21st November | Please help me to raise funds for homeless people

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On Monday 21st November, I will be joining other business leaders in London at CEO Sleepout UK, sleeping outdoors at Lord’s Cricket Ground to raise funds for people who have been pulled into homelessness.

By and large, people don’t choose to be homeless.

They find themselves sleeping on the street because they are facing a major crisis and have ended up with nowhere else to stay.

A relationship breakdown; redundancy; poor mental health; or domestic abuse are among the reasons.

With support, people can leave homelessness behind. They can be empowered to move on and make a fresh start away from the street.

Last year I raised nearly £1,000, with total donations totalling £129,000. I’m aiming for £2,000 this year.

Please support CEO Sleepout by making a donation today, so that we can help London’s homeless.

Click here to donate or scan the QR code below.

Thank you for your support.

Stuart George | Arden Fine Wines

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