Look what we found in the cellar!

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My first wine job was at Christie’s, working in the cellar, cataloguing wine as it arrived for auction. Over the year I did the job, before moving to the office, I estimate that I literally handled about 150,000 bottles: each bottle had to be inspected and given a Christie’s sticker as it was catalogued. Early on, my boss (the redoubtable Ursula Hermacinski) offered me a trip to Paris if I could produce an error-free catalogue. Try as I might, the best I could do was an error rate of just under 1%. I certainly wasn’t the best ever at this job, but I’m not aware that anyone has ever produced a wine auction catalogue without its corresponding addendum of corrections. Given enough space, time, and hands, it’s theoretically possible, but wine is bizarrely difficult to count. If you’re single-handedly trying to plough through another 40 cases after lunch, it’s not hard to imagine that you might miss the single bottle of 1988 Cos d’Estournel, for instance, in an otherwise complete case of 1989. I'm sure that any reader who has tried to keep their cellar inventory up to date has had a comparable experience.

Some of our more svelte friends have visited the cellar here at Chambers Street and can attest to it being… tight. For that reason alone, it’s not too surprising that sometimes bottles evade us for a while, get stuck in the wrong box, end up in another section altogether – to say nothing of the data entry work involved, which is another playground for inevitable errors. So it’s kind of fun that once we finally get around to doing inventory, we find some very nice bottles – hence the following list. Jamie Wolff

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Cordero di Montezemolo 1971 Barolo Monfalletto

A consistently excellent wine — we've been lucky to get to taste this several times in the last few years. It needs a lot of time to breathe, and then it provides a classic example of fully mature Nebbiolo. Jamie Wolff

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Rinaldi, Giuseppe 2011 Barolo Tre Tine

Formerly labeled Cannubi San Lorenzo - Ravera, this is close to same blend / same wine. Early on (from barrel in 2014) the Tre Tine seemed closer in style to Brunate than usual, sharing a dark core of ripe fruit, and very ripe tannin. A year later there was more obvious difference, with the elegance of Cannubi beginning to shine. Out of about 120 Barolos, this is one of the very best 2011s we've tasted. Jamie Wolff

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Rioja Alta 1976 Rioja Ardanza Reserva (some damaged labels)

Any fan of Rioja Alta's current releases should taste a bottle of Ardanza with age. The 1976 vintage was nothing to write home about in most other collectible wine regions, but has proven itself to be quite delicious in Rioja. Ardanza contains up to 20% Garnacha, which makes it rich and visceral with age, with bold earth, roses, blood orange, and iron interlaced with musky fig and dusty purple berries. Ariana Rolich

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López de Heredia 2000 Rioja Tondonia Reserva

This is a very good vintage for Tondonia. It's no 1998 in terms of complexity but much better than the 1999. This shows a lot of pretty plummy fruit, subtle cherry and tobacco notes, very good structure, and good delineanation of flavors while maintaining harmony and balance. This wine is drinking so well it warrants a half bottle as well as a magnum. cb

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Cordero di Montezemolo 1982 Barolo Monfalletto

Old Cordero Barolo is great wine (recent vintages are in a fairly heavy, oaky style that we don't love so much, but the old stuff...). A couple of years ago we had several cases of this wine, which afforded multiple tasting opportunities; at this price the wine is a steal.

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Francoli 1970 "Expo" Riserva

This wine is Gattinara — so says the previous owner, who we trust entirely — but is labelled in celebration of the 1970 World's Fair in Osaka, Japan. It wasn't easy to sell Gattinara in 1970, so the creative vendor tried some novel approaches... We don't know if it worked, but we do know that old Francoli is worth a try. JW

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Rinaldi, Francesco 1982 Barolo Cannubio

Tasted 4-5 times in the last year, this is still young, but beginning to show some lovely old-wine truffley/forest notes, along with more delicate rose and strawberry aromas. There's plenty of material balancing ripe tannin, and a long long finish. I love this wine, and I think it's a steal for this level of quality. JW

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Rinaldi, Giuseppe 2011 Barolo Brunate

Tasted twice (once from barrel in 2014, and from bottle in March 2015), this shows the warmth of the vintage in terms of a solid dark core, ripe tannin and tons of black cherry fruit (reminiscent of Cascina Francia), but without losing the balance that Rinaldi always seems to achieve. Jamie Wolff

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