Do you like old wine? Do you want to find out?

After meeting in oenology school in Dijon, Frederique Vaquer and her late husband took over his family's estate in 1991. She has been recently releasing wines aged in their cellar from the 1980s.
Drinking old wine is one of the great pleasures of gastronomy — there aren't many things we can safely eat or drink that are several decades old. The best wines change over the years and can reveal astounding, mystifying flavors that you'll remember for a lifetime. On the other hand, getting your hands on those bottles is expensive and out-of-reach for most people. Picking a wine can be risky, and picking an especially old wine is even more so, but with that risk comes excitement and the promise of something even more rewarding.
One of our importers recently brought us a bottle from 1985 from a producer in France's Roussillon region, near the Spanish border. Though it's a warm climate, their cellar is at high elevation and is often covered in snow during the winter. I don't know how they still have wine from 1985 they are just releasing to the world, but they do. Even better, it's (relatively) affordable and remarkably delicious. I thought it would be a fun exercise to pair this with a newer release from them that is similar enough for comparison. We've put them into a 2-pack that is discounted from the individual bottles.

Buy Domaine Vaquer 2-Pack • $85

Domaine Vaquer was started by Fernand Vaquer in 1912 but it wasn't until 1968 that his son, also Fernand, bottled their first wine, which was not common in the area; more typically grapes were sold to the local cooperative, never known for the best quality wines.

In 1985, Fernand II's son, Bernard, met his wife, Frederique, while they were both studying oenology in Dijon. They took over the Vaquer estate in 1991, and Bernard sadly passed away in 2001. Frederique, a native of Burgundy, has been running things herself since then. While my first instinct was to ascribe the very elegant, finessed profile of the estate to her Burgundian roots, she points out that the Vaquer wines had these qualities before she arrived. The 1985 is a beautiful example of a wine made with exacting care and aged in ideal conditions. There are plenty of clichés that apply here: hidden gem, diamond in the rough, etc. They happen to be very true.

We were all quite moved by the 1985, but the more recent releases from Frederique are impressive in their own right. The ability to taste them side by side is a geeky but incredibly fun exercise I hope I get to discuss with people in the shop soon!

Image of Vaquer 2-Pack
Vaquer 2-Pack
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Image of Fernand Vaquer Catalan Rouge 1985
Fernand Vaquer Catalan Rouge 1985
A rare find of an impeccably stored wine from an overachieving producer in a region that was nearly two decades away from gaining appellation status when this wine was made. Being kept in a snow-covered cave surely helped this to age as gracefully as it has. Notes of cumin, roasted carrots, and old book leather on the nose are met with mocha and cherry cordial on the palate. The depth and balance here are extraordinary, and even wilder is the amount of life and freshness that is still present. Substantial and hauntingly complex, with a 'Pinot-esque' finesse. Stand upright for 24 hours before opening to allow any sediment to fall to the bottom, but the bottles we've opened have been largely free from this. Pour slowly and decant if necessary. JK
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Image of Fernand Vaquer 'Cuvee Bernard' Cotes Catalanes 2019
Fernand Vaquer 'Cuvee Bernard' Cotes Catalanes 2019
Named after Frederique Vaquer's late husband Bernard, this is a great expression of the Vaquer style that contrasts the thicker, riper fruit typical of the Roussillon with a lifted, savory refinement. Black cherry and fresh, brambly, berry notes with careful balance and juicy delectability. A blend of Syrah planted in the 1970s with Carignan and Grenache planted in the 1990s. Fermented and aged in concrete vats. Pair with charcuterie, roast chicken, or try it side-by-side with the 1985 Vaquer Catalan Rouge to get a glimpse of the way a similar wine transforms after almost forty years. JK
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