On paper this wine was going to be as dead as the proverbial dodo. Parker 15 years ago wrote about the 1954 vintage, "A terrible late-harvested vintage conducted under appalling weather conditions...it is hard to believe anything from this vintage would still be worth drinking". When this wine was popped and poured on first sight I would have agreed with him. It was brown. Not brown at the edges, brown from rim to core. It was like swirling a madeira or oloroso sherry in the glass. The object of the exercise was to down this as fast as possible before it turned into balsamic vinegar in the glass, if that hadn't happened in the bottle already. Imagine the surprise when we were met with a nose of claret. On the palate it was unquestionably over the top, but it was still drinkable. There was a hint of sherry-like oxidation, but you could still detect what this wine was probably like over 50 years ago. Even more extraordinary was after 10 minutes in the glass the bouquet was opening up rather than spontaneously combusting and rolling over on its back with its legs in the air. Unquestionably faded, but still unquestionably Pichon Lalande. This bottle sums up why fine wine is so exciting. Even oddities like this can still capture the imagination. To taste a wine 58 years old that the elements conspired against, but has just about lived to tell the tale is thrilling. It is a time capsule, located at a specific point and time to a small vineyard in Bordeaux, made by a Vigneron who no doubt went to meet his Maker many years, if not decades ago and yet the product of his best efforts in an appalling year are still just about hanging on in there. A memorable experience and just goes to show how scores do not tell the whole story. Estimated Maturity: It's unquestionably on a life support so don't hang around.
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