The lower the fill the more likely the wine is oxidized. A very high fill level in a very old vintage is indicative of excellent storage conditions. Should you be able to find a 1934 vintage, you may consider, for what it's worth, the practice I have. When I buy an old vintage, I specify the fill level at which the bottle must be and require that this be confirmed to me by the sales rep by an e-mail confirmation, based on his/her personal observation, that the wine is at the fill level that I required when the order was placed and if it is not, that there is a refund to my credit card. Your seller may not have the wine in possession at the time you place your order and, indeed, may be procuring it as a pre-arrival item that may be weeks away from delivery. So, when it is delivered to your seller, get that confirmation in writing that the fill level is as was required by your order. Should the wine be shipped and the fill level is not as required, you should easily get your money back and a reputable vendor should refund your shipping costs as well.
You should check out the Doris Duke auction that Christies is having later this year. I know ALL of the wine is pre-war -- not sure about the 1934 vintage, but this would be the best possible provenance you could hope for.
Have you considered 1934 Madeira? It will be much cheaper than Port or Bordeaux and theres virtually no possibility that it's over-the-hill, heat damaged, or anything else (except corked) that could render an expensive Port or Bordeaux undrinkable.
IMHO I disagree with the statement that '34 was not a good vintage in Bordeaux. I have never had a '34 before, but Michael Broadbent says the follwing:
"The decade's best vintage. The grapes were saved from a 2 month drought by September rain. An abundant harvest, very good wines. Now risky, but the best kept are still drinking well. Vintage received 4 out 5 stars."
His favorite '34 is the Margaux. Most recently in 11/2000 a richly flavored bottle. Bouquet very attractive, just misses greatness. 4 stars. He also loved the '34 La Mission Haut Brion.
Life without wine?...... Yeah Right.<br /><br />I believe we have 2 lives; the life we learn with and the life we live with after that.
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