I know this might sound like heresy, but whenever I taste or drink a wine older than 15 years, I feel like I have missed the boat somehow.
Sure the wines are smooth, soft and elegant, but they are lacking the primary fruit and the energy I look for in the very best wines. This tension between fruit, tannins, oak , structure and complexity is what I look for and what I am used to when a drink a top wine. But whenever I drink older wines, all I get is mellow. Sure it is a nice mellow, but to me it seems to lack something and I wish I had drunk the wine 5-10 years earlier.
Now most of you will be rolling your eyes, as this is an indulgent topic that only wine wankers would consider. But, why does everybody want to know how long you can cellar a wine for, when nobody is actually cellaring wine.
Did you know, that the average length of time, from when a bottle is purchased, to when it is opened in Australia is less than 3 hours. No one is drinking wine that is 10 years old, let alone 20 years old, but there is this romantic notion of keeping a wine in a cellar and bringing it out in it’s prime. Plus, there is an assumption that a wine cannot be great unless it can be cellared for 30 plus years. But if no one is cellaring wines for 30 years, does this really matter?
I am not sure I have an answer, but I think this assumption harks back to the days of English gentlemen in tweed jackets drinking old Bordeaux in the cellars of even older chateaus. Very romantic and very desirable, but to 99.9% of the population, totally unachievable.
Modern wines are designed to be drunk on release and only a very few wines are created to last longer than 10 years, so why all the fuss about cellaring?
Even the First Growth Bordeaux’s and Grange can be drunk and enjoyed when released
These thoughts came to me at a recent wine dinner. It was at the end of a wine show and all the winemakers were showing off, bringing their older and better wines. There were some very showy wines being opened. A 1981 Magnum of Grange and a 2000 Magnum of Brokenwood Graveyard were the most popular and disappeared very quickly. Yet when I poured myself a glass, all I got was smooth.
Where was the energy, where was the tension?
Everyone else was very excited and there were lots of oohs and ahhs, but to me, they were all 10 years too old
Infact I have a rule. I will not keep a wine older than 10 years.
To me this is the Goldilocks rule. Not too young and not too old, it is just right
Now, people whose palate and knowledge I really respect, think I am a moron when I tell them this, but I want this tension, I want this fruit, I don’t just want a mellow wine! Or is this just because I am not drinking enough older wines?
So , if you do have some great wines tucked away, think about drinking them sooner rather than later. Enjoy the tension, enjoy the excitement. Life is too short to be just Smooth! You will never get angry if you drink a wine too early, but you will kick yourself if you wait too long.