In My Humble Opinion…
Many people ask me what my view is on ageing wine and is it better. The simple answer is – No, not necessarily.
Most wines made these days are made to ‘drink now’. In fact, approximately 98% of wine purchased throughout Australia and the world is drank straight away with no cellaring involved.
Seriously, why would the average wine drinker purchase wine to hoard in their homes? If they only consume 1 to 2 bottles a week whilst at home, then they may just think “what’s the point?”. This might be a smart move by them considering all the factors that come into play when you want to cellar wine properly. You have to consider temperature, humidity, sunlight, do you have it laid down or not and so forth…
There’s also that thrill you get from visiting your favourite bottle shop every week and picking out a different wine to try or seeing what’s on special. I certainly love doing this! However, I AM one of those people that have a pretty big wine collection so it’s very rare for me to visit a bottle shop these days. I really do get that thrill though – there is SO much good wine out there to discover – I could literally spend an hour or more looking through a bottle shop before I walk out with a bottle. Waste of time?? Absolutely not! If I thoroughly enjoyed it, it was so worth it.
So anyway, back to ageing wine. As I mentioned, most wine is made to drink now when you have purchased it. Winemakers know that this is the case – they make their wine so it tastes better to drink it younger.
There are still plenty of wines that will benefit from ageing. Any whites or reds that have a higher tannin structure or that level of acidity needed are the key wines to lay down for a while. Think Oaked Semillon and Chardonnay in your whites and Cabernet Sauvignon, Shiraz and Durif in your reds (just to name a couple).
I recently had a 2003 Cabernet Sauvignon… so a 17-year-old wine. I knew the brand of wine that I was drinking however I never drink their wine, so I had no idea on the cost of it.
I assumed that it was most likely from this wineries more premium range or at least $30 plus considering my parents had decided to cellar it that long.
I took my first sip and it was like silk – all those gripping tannins that you usually feel with a cab sav had smoothened out. It honestly went down like melted butter. The wine had a more complete feeling in my mouth. From all that ageing those primary fruit characteristics had mellowed out and become savorier. The prominent ‘green’ flavours like green capsicum as well as mint & eucalypt that you’d usually find in a Marg’s Cab had almost disappeared and I was getting subtle wood and smokiness as well as a little toffee on the palate. It was delicious.
So, I proceeded to look up the wine and discovered it was a max of $15 per bottle!! I felt like a snob… I can’t remember the last time I’ve spent $15 on a Cabernet from Margaret River. Most cheaper Cabs I’ve had in the past have been quite ordinary with almost unpleasant tannins sucking the moisture out of my mouth.
But in saying that – all of those cheaper wines would not have been aged. So, in this case cellaring this particular wine for that long had its benefits and I was pleasantly surprised with the outcome.
You’re in luck if you’re someone that loves a fresh and fruity wine as you can buy to drink now and be in your element! Most whites and rosé wines are perfect to drink straight away – they’ll be cleaner, crisp and the fruit characters will be more vibrant.
For your ‘drink now’ reds, look out for carbonic-macerated wine like Beaujolais Nouveau (Gamay predominately), spicy European Grenaches and Tempranillo’s. I recently had a 2019 Sangiovese from South By South West that blew my mind.
I’m a red drinker, and I always thought I was someone that preferred an aged wine – I would opt for the older wines on a wine list (almost didn’t pick the 2019 Sangiovese metioned above and oh how I fell in love with that wine) and tend to cellar a lot of the wine I purchase. But in the past year, I’ve been very impressed in the quality of younger wine. Winemakers are being very smart about the whole ‘drink now’ mentality that we have. If you are/were like me when it came to ageing wine, then I do encourage you to try some of the newer style younger wines. They are particularly nice on our warmer summer days, without food, with food to nibble on, slightly chilled, drank with friends or even on your own (I don’t judge).
But if you have those wines at home that benefit from ageing, I do urge you to at least wait three to four years before cracking it. Try for 10+ with your reserve Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon, Shiraz and wines within this category.
So to conclude, aged wines aren’t necessarily better – Take everything into consideration when you are purchasing a wine to drink. If you’re going to a bottle shop to get a wine to drink that night – perhaps don’t reach for the 2018 or 2019 Cab Sav or Shiraz on the shelf, it wouldn’t be at it’s potential. Instead, if that’s the variety you are after, look for one that’s already had some time in the bottle OR be brave and try a style you’re not used to that is actually made to drink now.
Here’s a little ‘drink me now’ and ‘cellar that baby’ guide of a few of my fav local reds and whites:
2019 Verdelho Lancaster Wines $19pb
2019 1840 Chenin Blanc Sandalford $30pb. Cellar for 5 years+
2017 Ferguson Valley Chardonnay Faber Vineyard. $33.50pb. Drinking well now but can easily cellar for another 4 to 7 years.
Plane Jane Red Jane Brook Estate $99 per dozen!
2017 Tempranillo Riverbank Estate $25pb
2015 Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon Mandoon Estate $84pb. Cellar up to 10 years+
2018 Durif Olive Farm Wines $37pb. Cellar for up to 9 years.
Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions about the above or if you’re interested in knowing a little more on the wines that I’ve recommended. Keep in mind, the above wineries are doing online sales and great deals on wine as well as home delivery.. woohoo!
Happy Wine Drinking Wine Lovers