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Jul 25, 2007 11:43 AM

champagne shelf life

I have a bottle of Pierre Buffry champagne from about 1993.
It has been stored standing up in a cupboard since then.
Can anyone say if it is still suitable for drinking?

Also does anyone has any history on this particular champagne as it is a family name.

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  1. I am not familiar with the champagne but I have had some very old vintages. I would definately suggest chilling it. It should still be good, but a couple things about "older' champagnes. The color is usually much deeper and there may be less bubbles, but it will have a depth of flavor unlike a newer vintage. I very much enjoy older champagnes, they are more viscous and have much more character. Enjoy it! Let me know how it turns out.

    1 Reply
    1. re: ghettochic

      Thank you very much for your reply.
      We plan to drink it for my husband's 50th birthday in September.
      We will let you know how we get on.

    2. I would definitely give it a shot....the worst that could happen is that you end up with a great champagne vinegar.

      1. A lot will depend on whether it is a Vintage, or NV (non-vintage), and how constant the temp is in the cupboard. Champagne is a fairly hearty wine, but WILL succumb to strong variations of temp and higher temps.

        In really broad terms, NV and RD (Recently Disgourged) Champagnes are really meant to be consumed at, or near release. Some "development" might take place, but these wines are not really meant to age in the bottle. Some do a better job, than others.

        Vintage Champagne does age (RDs have undergone a similar aging in the cellars), and changes. You might/might not, like the changes. That is up to *your* palate.

        For the special occasion (50th b'day), I'd have a backup handy, just to be on the safe side.

        Chill to </= 45F, hold a towel over the cork (once the cage has been removed), and twist the bottle slowly, pulling slightly. If you get a "poof," things are looking up. If you get nothing, still try the wine. I've had older Champagnes, that had lost much of their effervesance, but were still quite tasty, on their own - just not what one usually thinks of with Champagne. That's why a backup wine is almost a requirement - same for most older vintage wines. A lot can happen over 14 years, even with great cellar conditions.

        And, to your hubby, Happy 50th. Next week, I'll be celebrating the next "big one."


        2 Replies
        1. re: Bill Hunt

          kathfent: Do get a backup!

          Bill: already 100 ? Mazl'Tov!

          1. re: RicRios

            Thank you! It feels a bit like it, though it not THAT much of a milestone. I'd basically have forgotten about it, but my loving wife has not let me forget. She had cakes at every restaurant in Santa Barbara to celebrate. At least we had glorious wines to consume, albeit no older bubblies, so it was a great trip.

            I do agree, that it is likely over-the-hill, but have been very surprised with wines, that I thought were long dead. As you state: "Do get a backup!"


        2. Never heard of that producer. Don't want to burst your bubble... but I wouldn't have high hopes for this bottle being very good. Here's why. Its not so much the age as good champagne ages nicely and its certainly not very old (I know people with big collections whose wines of choice are champagnes from the 50's -60's). The problem is that its been in what you've described as very poor storage conditions. The temperature in the cupbard can't be very cool, and im sure it actually gets warm. As Bill suggests the temp also most likely varies, not constant. The biggest red flag, however, is that the bottle has been stored standing up, so this will dry out the cork, hastening oxidation. It's not a very good formula for success. Even the most ageworthy champagnes (Krug, Dom Perignon, etc) will have trouble in that environment.

          So, save it longer if you wish. It will be fun to try. But assume its not good so you won't be disappointed... and if its good you'll be pleasantly surprised. But for that 50th, plan on having something else to make sure your celebration of that great occasion is enjoyed to the fullest.

          2 Replies
          1. re: WineTravel

            I generally agree with Wine Travel's points, but would note that I have been told by people in the business that storing champagne upright is not a problem, as the gas inside keeps the cork moist.

            That said, I am sure storing upright in a cupboard is never recommended! :) But what do you have to lose?

            This reminds me of an experience w/ a very sweet neighbor of ours a couple of years ago. He came over once and said, "I know you guys enjoy wine. My wife and I rarely drink, and we have a bottle of champagne we have been storing in our basement for some time, a Christmas a gift from a friend. We finally decided we should give it to you. " Of course, we tried not to expect much, but there's always that little voice wondering if this might be something great.

            He emerged a few minutes later with.......

            a bottle of Andre's like one I had never seen even in my college days! I bet it was from the 70's or maybe even earlier. It was absolutely brown; obvious even through the green glass.

            We took it graciously, though, and actually have kept it around in our wine cellar - our own private joke about the dangers of aging the wrong wines or under the wrong conditions.

            1. re: WineTravel

              Your description of the cork problem, or potential problem, is spot on. We just did a Krug, that had been cellared properly, then chilled, prior to serving. Cork was dry, fizz was gone, but we had another bottle, that proved to be fine. In this case, both bottles were acquired at about the same time, which was 12 mos. ago. Corks can be fragile things, even with the best of circumstances.


            2. The Pierre Buffry champagne that you refer to was made in a small village called etoges in ChampagneFrance. Pierre was my father in law. He is now deceased and the business is run by two of his daughters under the Pierre Buffry label and the Guenel Buffry label, I presume you have drank the champagne. I would expect that it was a bit to old. He always made good champagne.