Report on the state of wine at Powerscourt (1853)

The following was logged in the Guardian minute books regarding the wines in the cellar at Powerscourt. This survey was carried out during the minority of Lord Powerscourt, when his mother (who remarried Lord Castlereagh) was one of the three Guardians of the Estate, which was managed by Captain Cranfield:

Report on the State of the Wine at Powerscourt

(R. J. Gordon Esq, Belfast)

Having been requested by Lord and Lady Castlereagh to examine the cellar of wines at Powerscourt and to make a report thereon for Lord Powerscourt’s Guardians I beg to say that on examining the Cellar I found it contained a very large quantity of Claret almost all of which is of the Vintages 1825 and 1834 – two of the best vintages on record – of the former there are about 27 dozens and 3 bottles, and of the 1834 about 65 dozens and three bottles – there are also about 2 dozens and 2 bottles of claret supposed to be of the famous vintage of 1815 – wines of that year may be considered extinct – a few bottles perhaps being still in some private cellars. The wine is sound and good but I am satisfied not so good as it was some ten or fifteen years since, and it is questionable how far it may be prudent to keep so much of it.

The wines of vintage 1834 and Standard quarts of 1825 were purchased from myself several years since by the late Lord Powerscourt and are not to be excelled – the other wine of 1825 is also excellent – they are however becoming very old, and the quantity in the cellar is so large that I much fear (considering how little wine is now used in Society compared with the habit some years since) if not brought into use for four or five years yet, a great deal of it will suffer, and in all probability a considerable portion of it be lost.

I should recommend that some steps be taken to part with a portion of it. If it were known in the London Clubs or among the London wine Brokers that there was such wine for sale under the circumstances I think a large price would probably be obtained for it.

On estimating the quantity I have reckoned 5 doz of Magnum bottles as 10 dozen of wine – these are 1834, and 4 dozen and 11 bottles of 1825 in standard quarts I have reckoned as 7 dozen and 4 bottles.

Port

Of this there is none in the cellar.

Sherry

I found a very considerable quantity of sherry, of different kinds, but all good, the total quantity being about 96 dozen and 3 bottles, besides 10 dozen and 4 bottles of good dinner sherry, and 16 dozen for housekeepers use.

Of the 96 dozen I found about 30 dozen in so bad condition, partly I should think from being badly bottled at first, and partly from leakage through the corks that I feared they would be lost the bottles not being full, and I had these drawn, put back into cask, fined??, and rebottled producing 27 dozen and 2 bottles of bright wine and 15 bottles cloudy from deposit.

Madeira

Of this wine I am sorry to say there is a large quantity for none of it is good. Of common Madeira there are about 41 dozens besides, about 21 dozen pints? of Malmsey? Madeira and about 7 ½ dozens of Sercial? The Malmsey Madeira though failing is sound, and a little of this might be kept, but I should strongly recommend the rest to be sold for anything that can be found for it. Some of the Madeira might answer for kitchen use but there are 16 dozen of sherry for this purpose besides 17 bottles of some white wine in an upper bin in the new cellar.

Hock

In the new cellar, there are about 6 dozens and 2 bottles (large) abd about 8 dozen of pints of very good wine. Hock in the sherry cellar should be disposed of – there are about 17 dozens which I fear will be lost, indeed some of it is bad already.

Champagne

There are about 2 dozen and 10 bottles in the sherry cellar bad – only fit for kitchen use.

Burgundy

There are about 2 dozen which I should fear would not keep long – the wine is sound but becoming flat.

Falernian Wine

I do not know this wine – there are about 24 bottles of it – to me it appears very poor thin wine that will not keep.

Home made wine

About 2 bottles very indifferent

There are also a few bottles (about 9) in one of the upper bins in the Sherry Cellar which I cannot make anything of.

Belfast, 25 May, 1853 (Signed) RL Gordon

 

Summary of Stock of Claret

  • Vintage supposed 1815 Growth Unknown Bin No. 10:  8 Doz 2 Bottles
  • Vintage 1825 Growth unknown Bin No. 13: 2 doz 5 bottles
  • Same Bin No. 14: 17 doz 6 bottles
  • Vinatage 1825 Gordon’s Wine Growth Latour – in standard quarts these bottles are equal to 7 doz 4 bottles common wine bottles Bin No. 17: 4 doz 11 bottles
  • 1834 (Gordon’s Wine) Growth Lafitte Bin No. 1: 2 doz 9 bottles
  • same Bin No. 2: 21 doz 5 bottles
  • 1834 Gordon’s Wine Growth Latour Bin no. 5: 21 doz 4 bottles
  • 1834 Gordon’s Wine Growth Lafitte (pure Bin No. 4: 9 doz 10 bottles
  • 1834 Gordon’s Wine Growth Lafitte in Magnums Bin No. 17: 5 doz
  • These 5 doz Magnums equal to 10 dozen common wine bottles
  • Belfast, 25 May, 1853 (Signed) RL Gordon

Guardian Notes on Wine Report

Lady Castlereagh signed the return of the wine in the cellars.

The contents of the cellar was calculated by Mr Wilkinson and the House Steward on the 16th June and the return signed by Lady Castlereagh was found on their statement. I was unable, from —, to make the instruction myself. There are a few discrepancies from Mr Gordon’s report which will be noticed in this column further on – George Cranfield (Agent to the Estate)

(several discrepancies listed, usually one or two bottles…)