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A twentieth-century vintage will be necessary even for those only just old enough to be allowed to drink, and it will have to be a wine that was worth keeping 20 years or so.
Given the age of most wine enthusiasts, you are more likely to be looking for a wine that is several more decades old – quite a financial commitment.
The category was so abused that it was temporarily suspended by the EU but madeira soleras are now being established once more – still too youthful to be useful for our purposes.
(Few wine drinkers realise how widely these 15% additions of something else are allowed for wine in general.)But he points out that the French customs authorities and their colleagues from the delightfully named Répression des Fraudes are very much on his case.
His wines are authenticated by detailed records from the producers that are scrutinised regularly by customs officials.
Based on Grenache grapes of all three colours, these Rivesaltes, Banyuls and Maurys are the most traditional wines produced in Roussillon and dominated the wine scene there until the fashion for table wines and international grape varieties came along in the 1980s.
Producers kept making these strong, sweet wines – often in tiny quantities – just to keep the tradition alive, but knew that there was no hurry whatsoever to sell them. A complex EU subsidy scheme kept production going, notably in the co-ops that predominate on the plains around Perpignan.