Seattle Wine Blog

This blog is dedicated to commentary on all aspects of wine, especially short entries to help you find the best wines without the usual hype and spin. These are my frank, independent opinions, usually based on tasting wine at a public event, off the shelf or at the winery. "All creative acts must arise out of a specific soil and flicker with a spirit of place" -D.H. Lawrence

Friday, July 07, 2006

Ryan's Wine Cellar

Ryan told me he's thinking of building an underground cave or wine cellar. I asked him what he is going to put in it. Like me, he likes Washington state reds, but most Washington state wines are better young. Ninety-five per cent of wines are drunk the night they are purchased and in the past twenty years winemakers have been taking this into account. These days most wine is ready to drink off the shelf. Some winemakers succeed in making wine that has a large drinking window, say, from right now to ten years. In Washington, "cult" wines such as Quilceda Creek and Leonetti age well, although I recently had a 1989 Leonetti that wasn't in the best of shape. Basel Cellars and Terra Blanca have made Syrahs that benefit from age. K Vintners, too. McCrea special cuvee Syrahs require some bottle age, especially the Amerique. The 1998 Nelms Road Merlot is still coming around. Forgeron and Kestrel have made wines that need to age.

Generally speaking, Cabs and Cab Blends are the best agers from Washington. Many reds may benefit from a few years in the cellar, but why wait until they lose that luscious upfront fruit. Whites are best at two years, so if you buy one that is younger than that it might improve for a few months. Most whites over four years are too old. I've had some Oregon Pinot Noirs that aged well. A 1992 Domaine Drouhin was in prime shape in 2002, as was a 1992 Van Duzer. The best way to tell if a wine will age is to taste it yourself. The wine must have good fruit AND a little extra roughness(tannin) and tartness(acid). This is not always possible, so then you must depend on a reliable wine taster such as Robert Parker or yours truly. Red Bordeaux is the wine that ages best. Unfortunately, these have gotten quite expensive. In my experience, red Burgundy does not age very well any more. For the most part,they seem to be best at about four to six years or less. Italian Barolo, Brunello, Barbera, and Dolcetto benefit from age. Sweet wines such as Port, Sauternes, and late harvest wines age well. Very generally, the more expensive the wine, the better it will age, but this is not always true.

I once asked a winemaker why he didn't mention the aging potential of his wine on the back label. He said there was already too much stuff to put there and the marketing people would give him trouble, etc., etc,. The marketing people, indeed! Just sell the wine! There oughta be a law!


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