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1985 Wine Suggestions?

sunday Sep 9, 2008 09:03 PM

I'm thinking of buying my parents a bottle of wine for their anniversary -- but I know next to nothing about wine. Any suggestions about specific wines or good places look for reviews/ratings would really be appreciated. I'd like to spend around $300 or less. Oh, and I think that they like tannins. Thank you!

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  1. w
    whiner Sep 9, 2008 10:03 PM

    1985 was a WONDERFUL vintage for Champagne! I'd go that route. You can still find the 1985 Charles Heidsieck Champagne Charlie for about $120 and that is a killer bottle of wine.

    Otherwise, you can probably get a nice Bordeaux, too. The La Mission Haut Brion should be in your price range. But for me, I'd deffinitely go the Champagne route and the Charlie is a *strong* reccomendation.


    Other Bordeaux in your price range that Robert Parker scored well:

    Left Bank: Leoville Las Cases, Cos d'Estournel, Leoville Barton, Ducru Beaucaillou, Lynch Bages

    Right Bank: L'Arosee, Certan de May, La Conseillante, L'Evangile

    Of those, the only two from '85 I've had are the Ducru Beaucaillou and I *think* the Lynch Bages... neither wowed me. But Bordeaux rarely does.

    1. z
      zin1953 Sep 10, 2008 07:06 AM

      Excellent vintage for Vintage Porto, too.

      1 Reply
      1. re: zin1953
        Luwak Sep 13, 2008 04:25 PM

        The 1985 Graham or Fonseca Vintage Ports would make outstanding gifts.

      2. ChefJune Sep 10, 2008 07:18 AM

        Here's a second for Champagne Charlie! and what's more celebratory for a "BIG" anniversary than Champagne?

        85 was also a fine year in Tuscany, and you should be able to get a great Brunello (sucn as the Biondi Santi) in your price range.

        1. b
          Brad Ballinger Sep 10, 2008 09:52 AM

          K & L Wines in San Francisco, Redwood City, and Hollywood, may have some 1985 Champagne. They ship.

          For your price cap, you are probably limited to Champagne and Vintage Port. But that's a lot of port to drink if you don't have a lot of people to help you drink it. The port will certainly be tannic, though.

          You will find some Bordeaux available at wine auction web sties. The first growths will be out of reach price-wise, but you may find some others.

          1. s
            sunday Sep 11, 2008 05:25 PM

            Thanks for all the suggestions!

            1. f
              FriedClamFanatic Sep 11, 2008 05:36 PM

              St. Helena (CA) Martha's Vineyard Cabernet

              1. Bill Hunt Sep 11, 2008 08:26 PM


                Fortunately, 1985 was a good to great year for many. The first question that I'd have to ask is what do your parents like? I'm a fan of big Cal-Cabs and that was a good year. More on that later. It was also a declared year for most producers of Vintage Port. These two types of wine can be worlds apart, though still great.

                Considering the time in bottle, and hopefully in a loving cellar, either should still be good, if not great. I have a collection of domestic (US) and imported Cabs (and Cab-based wines). Though I always intended to do a major tasting for the 20th anniversary of these, it just did not happen. So, I was faced with the prospect of consuming these on my own. Even some of the lighter versions, like Jordan (Sonoma) have held up very well. I have yet to open any of these (domestic, or imported), that failed to satisfy me. This is even some of the ones, that I assumed were long gone.

                Next, the 1985 VP's were highly touted. I laid down many of these. None has disappointed me, but none has exemplified the "wine of the century," as many wine writers stated that they would. My case of Taylor-Fladgate '85 is almost gone. I'm happy, as my wife likes her VP on the young side, and we've consumed many "before their time." They were better in their youth, and that is not how they were described decades ago. Still, if I were looking for an '85 anything, I'd look to these. I gifted a bottle of the Taylor for great friend's 10th anniversary in '95. I gave them a bottle in '05. I had no problem with these, because I had been tasting them all along. They were very good, though never realized their stated potential. While these were not a real investment, they were, and are, very good wines.

                Now, if your parents are not Port fans, then these would not be good choices. Along the way, I had many '85 Bordeaux wines. Most are gone, and they were good to great 20-23 years later. However, if your parents do not like Bdx., then none of these would be a good choice.

                It's about what your parents DO like. It should not be difficult to find something that they enjoy from that year. Choose their wine first, then search for that year.


                2 Replies
                1. re: Bill Hunt
                  FrankJBN Sep 15, 2008 10:09 AM

                  "I had many '85 Bordeaux wines. Most are gone, and they were good to great 20-23 years later"

                  Uh, isn't 23 years later now?

                  1. re: FrankJBN
                    Bill Hunt Sep 15, 2008 06:12 PM

                    They were drinking well up until the last of them was consumed in early 2008. Unless I missed the math, that means that during the 20-23 years from vintage (not release, or purchase), they were doing fine. I am now done with all of my '85 Bdx - pity. The last was a btl. of Ch. Kirwan and it was still lovely.


                2. m
                  mengathon Sep 12, 2008 03:43 PM

                  How bout a Chateauneuf-du-Pape? Wasn't it a pretty good year for the Rhone region in general? You should be able to find a good CdP, Hermitage, or a Cote-Rotie in your price range. A lot of the good producers should be drinking at their primes.

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: mengathon
                    whiner Sep 12, 2008 05:20 PM

                    I thought of that route. The only '85 I've had is the Jaboulet La Chapelle, and I actually think it was already on the downswing, which is why I avoided mentionng it. Based upon the way it typically ages, the Chave Hermitage should still be good...

                    *Thread drift* People holding on to the '82 Jaboulet La Chappelle should drink it tonight... but it is a real stunner.

                    1. re: whiner
                      Iowaboy3 Sep 13, 2008 07:55 AM

                      You might try the 85 Beaucastel Chat. du Pape. I had a bottle of it in 2003 and it was drinking beautifully. Probably has a few more years in it. I'd drink it by 2011 though.

                  2. Delucacheesemonger Sep 23, 2008 02:39 PM

                    As the ultimate Negrar guy, the 85's from Quintarelli as his amarone, amarone resirva, alzero,or sweet Bandito di Cere, are all perfect now. Had two of them last month. If l had one ever to drink, those are the ones for me

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: Delucacheesemonger
                      whiner Sep 24, 2008 07:21 AM



                      But can you really find those wines under $300? (Actually, the better question would be if you could even find those wines at all!)

                      But, yes, Quintarelli is an absolute treasure.

                      1. re: whiner
                        Delucacheesemonger Sep 25, 2008 01:57 AM

                        Have them and cannot get more for them than that, just sold 83 amandorlato for 300

                    2. k
                      kenito799 Sep 25, 2008 06:11 AM

                      Lopez de Heredia, fantastic classic Rioja, you can buy a few so they can share it:

                      1985 Lopez de Heredia Viña Tondonia Rioja Gran Reserva
                      "Pale orange-red color, greeny-gold at the rim. Knockout ethereal nose combines strawberry, minerals, maple syrup, black toffee, truffle and autumn leaves. Juicy, pungent, precise and minerally; a Chambolle style of Rioja, weightless in the best possible way. Dry, brisk and fresh, with penetrating cherry fruit." IWC94

                      $78 at PJ Wine

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: kenito799
                        kenito799 Sep 25, 2008 06:21 AM

                        Here's another, with a Wine Advocate review that gives some insight into how quality in Rioja often matches places like Bordeaux at a fraction of the cost.

                        1985 La Rioja Alta Rioja Gran Reserva "904"
                        $155 at PJ Wine
                        "This winery's top of the line offerings are the Gran Reservas. The 1985 Gran Reserva 904 exhibits a medium deep ruby color with considerable garnet and rust at the edge. The aromatics are extremely intense and compelling, offering up scents of plum-like fruit intermixed with smoke, minerals, tobacco, cherries, earth, and licorice. There is a sweet, rich impression on the palate, without any sense of heaviness or austere tannin. The wine is fresh and lively, but possesses the mature, sweet, smoky, Graves-like style of a top Rioja. Medium-bodied, beautifully concentrated and layered, as well as fully mature, it should keep for another decade. This is an exceptional example of an old school Spanish Rioja that was aged in different-sized oak vessels, and not released until it had reached full maturity. If readers think the price is high, consider the fact that this bodegas has aged the wine for the consumer, rather than asking you to buy it as a "future" in 1982 and hold it for 15 years before drinking it." WA90

                        PS can you send a bottle to me with the balance of your $300? :)

                      2. b
                        bowmore36 Sep 25, 2008 08:45 PM

                        you can probably find some emidio pepe montepulciano d'abruzzo around that wouldn't be too expesive. one of the coolest and "interesting" wines out there and on the shelf.
                        a little va on my last bottle but worth grabbing and sitting on for a little

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: bowmore36
                          mengathon Sep 25, 2008 10:32 PM

                          Not had his Montepulciano, but his Trebbiano d'Abruzzo is sooo interesting. Almost like a value version of Nicolas Joly.

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