Toronto – Canada







Hidden Treasures

“This wine is really old…it must be worth a fortune!”




If I had a drop of wine for every time I heard this, I would have a Double Magnum.  At least a couple of times a week I receive a random, unsolicited email from someone who has found a few bottles of wine in their own basement, a deceased loved one’s attic or a garage sale in Yuma, Arizona.  On very few occasions are any of these worth more than the bottle deposit, but I’ll shine a little light in an effort to help lighten my inbox.


First, wine is a perishable product and as such has a lifespan that varies greatly depending on the producer, the grape and even the vintage. A first growth Bordeaux from 1965 was described by a well-known critic as “stewed garbage”, while the same wine from four years earlier was worth a sizeable amount.  So not all wines are created equal. 


Second, a wine mustbe stored properly to age well no matter what wine it is (and there’s no difference in storage between red and white, by the way). The generally accepted temperature is 12.7C, with consistency being the most important.  Too cold will age it slower and too warm will age it faster. Up and down fluctuations will kill it. Keep it out of light, on its side, and away from vibration. 


So does that mean that unless the right wine is housed during its entire life in a professionally refrigerated wine cellar it’s no good? Absolutely not.  We recently came across 25 cases from an old root cellar in north Toronto that the grandson found when they were emptying the home of their grandparents.  The wine had never seen proper refrigeration and had spent its 30 to 50 years in a dark, damp basement.  The bottleswere dirty, the labels were ripped and many had ullage levels (the distance between the bottom of the cork and the top of the wine, the most telling tale of whether a wine is still good) below what would be considered acceptable.


As a retailer ( we have a commitment to exceptional provenance so I couldn’t put them on our site,but I called a client who was willing to take a chance, heavily discounted, for the lot. A few months later he called to tell me it was one of the best things he’d ever bought.


So use the above information to curb your enthusiasm for the 1975 Mateus you stumbled across in the trunk of an abandoned car.  Do, however, feel free to contact us at Iron Gate should you think you may have something of value and we’ll gladly help you out just don’t shoot the messenger.




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