Wine,Wine Importer,Wine tasting

Conscientious wine making and scrupulous storage are required to go the distance

[Image borrowed from the Best of Wines.] Bacchus, author of the site, writes of Jim Ruxin:

You will receive an email twice a month listing current holdings in Bordeaux, California, collectibles from current Parker-rated wines, Burgundies, Alsatian (a fetish), and even German Rieslings. His specialty is older vintages but you may have to wait until he scores a major cellar from a client that goes back 30 years – vintage and otherwise.

Having personally been in the wine business for the last 20+ years, this is how history allows for stories to just unfold on their own, including conscientious wine making. This one is so good, in fact, that it’s worth sharing, with Jim’s permission. As I just wrote in another blog post, PR 101 ~ Personal emails are a true path. During the time when I was writing that story, this one dropped into my Email inbox, from Jim Ruxin of Village Wine of Brentwood.

The subject title read:

1984 Belvedere…you worked there?

Dear Jo,

As a wine broker, I recently acquired six bottles of this wine, served it at a subscription dinner and sold them instantly.

I was extremely impressed with the youthfulness and the maturity. This wine, as all the others in this perfectly stored restaurant cellar, were amazing. Modest wines that were fresh, with wonderful secondary aromas and flavors. Not terribly complex, but there was much to be said for their relative to today modest alcohol. These wines were not austere.

I would buy cases of these and other Belvedere if I could find them. Others from the era that were equally impressive: Cutler Cellars, Stephen Zellerbach, Lakespring.

I wrote back to Jim Ruxin:

Hi, Jim,

I was at Belvedere from 1993 to 1998. When I arrived, Erich Russell was the winemaker. I believe he was there for the 1984 vintages. (I’ve Cc:ed him, so he can correct me if I’m wrong.)

The wines that you had would have been made by Erich, if I’m correct.. Today he owns Rabbit Ridge Winery.

Consider buying Erich’s wines of today, because he does know how to make great wine. Belvedere is no longer in existence. Bill Hambrecht dissolved the business, to make a profit from Belvedere Vodka… First the vodka company had a copyright infringement for the Belvedere name; but Bill, being a venture capitalist, seized the moment and turned that into instant profit…

Thanks for reaching out and sharing. I’m hoping that I’ve been able to guide you to the original source for that wine.

Thanks, Jo.

I just wanted to share my respect and gratefulness. You could taste their effort to produce something of value. Effort like that gets too little respect today. It may have been uneventful then, but their work speaks to me today.

The wine came from a Santa Barbara restaurant that closed 15 years ago when the owner retired. He [put] 440 bottles into professional storage, and they were not touched until the early summer when I acquired them all.

Thanks for sharing, Jim.

I think I’ll blog about this one, if you don’t mind? It’s a good story. I haven’t blogged about Erich in a while, and it would be a great winemaker profile, along with a wine pro backing me up with my thoughts. Are you okay with that?


Every bottle showed like a far younger wine. This includes modest bottlings like 1981 Rausan Segla (at the time), 1975 Lescours, 1989/1990 Meyney and lesser bottlings you would think might not be drinkable at this age. Even the bottles with high shoulder fills showed no signs of premature aging or falling apart.

I already mentioned the California wine that showed so well.

The lesson is that conscientious wine making and scrupulous storage are required to go the distance. Few have tasted the mature potential of mid- to lower level bottlings in off years, because they are often consumed young or ignored by the market when younger better vintages displace them from the limelight.

Can’t wait to open the 1947 Leoville las Cases and 1961 Latour that remain. Please refer your readers to me if they have any interest in these and other remaining wines.


Village Wine of Brentwood
Representing Fine Cellars
+01 310-471-7372 office
+01 310-617-7372 mobile

There you have it… Wines that have aged show all of the promise of their potential, when conscientious wine making and scrupulous storage go the distance.

Thanks for reaching out, Jim. It’s great when colleagues share their own stories, versus me always harping on subjects, for which others might question my credentials.  (It happens every time someone decides, “you’re just a blogger, what could you possibly know?


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