A Drinkable Time Capsule

5 Wines That Just Get Better With Time, According to a Master Somm


Gifts grounded in experiences — a vacation, a tour of an otherwise off-limits building, dinner at a notable restaurant — are among the most memorable that you can give. The same goes for something focused on the future, meant to commemorate and celebrate an occasion. While all wine on store shelves is suitable for immediate consumption, some bottles get better with time. “Aging wine will mellow out its flavors,” says Dustin Wilson, Master Sommelier and founder of Verve Wine. “With time, wine starts to shed fresh, fruity flavors and gain earthy or nuttier notes. The acidity and tannins will also soften up a bit. The wine becomes more harmonious, more balanced, more interesting.”

A wine to save and open on the anniversary of an event is a gift that embodies celebration — for weddings, birthdays and graduations. But, as Wilson notes, not all wines age well, while some are best left for longer stretches of time.

Gear Patrol:
What determines whether a wine will age well in the bottle?
Dustin Wilson:
There are various factors that will contribute to a wine’s ageability. High acidity, tannins and alcohol are the structural elements that can each help the wine to go the distance. Concentration of flavors is usually a sign of a wine that will age well also. Of course, a producer’s use of sulfur will also contribute to how long the wine can age in bottle. That all said, I think the number one factor to ensure a wine will age well is proper storage. This tops everything.

GP:
Are there grapes or types of wine that are better suited to bottle aging than others?
DW:
Absolutely. Wines with good structure tend to last longer. There are many, but Nebbiolo, Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, Grenache, Sangiovese, Pinot Noir, Riesling, Chenin Blanc, Marsanne and Chardonnay are a few that have good potential. Stick to well-made wines from good producers and solid vintages for longer aging.

GP:
What about the length of time in which a wine is aged? Are some styles better when aged longer?
DW:
I’m a big believer that properly stored wine can last a very long time. I’ve tasted 60-year-old Pinot Blanc from Alto Adige, Italy, that was outstanding because it sat in the producer’s cellar and never moved. It also depends on the initial quality of the wine. High-quality Nebbiolo could last 50 years or more, where a more basic style might only last five years or so. Generally speaking, if the goal is to age the wine for a long time, buy something of high quality and store it right. Cool temperatures (around 50 degrees Fahrenheit), darkness, proper humidity (around 70 percent) should do the trick.

Five to Age

Bottles to Save for a Future Celebration

Eva Fricke Rheingau ‘Krone’ 2015

Grape: Reisling
Age For: 15+ years
Similar: Domaine Weinbach Riesling “Cuvee Laurence” Vin d’Alsace 2013 ($48)

Pierre Gonon St-Joseph 2014

Grape: Syrah
Age For: 20+ years
Similar: JL Chave Selection St-Joseph “Offerus” 2014 ($33)

Isole e Olena IGT Toscana ‘Cepparello’ 2013

Grape: Sangiovese
Age For: 20+ years
Similar: Il Paradiso di Manfredi Rosso di Montalcino 2014 ($53)

Domaine du Collier Saumur Blanc 2012

Grape: Chenin Blanc
Age For: 10–15 years
Similar: Le Petit Saint Vincent Saumur Blanc “Les Perruchets” 2014 ($38)

Arnot-Roberts Cabernet Sauvignon ‘Clajeux’ Chalk Hill 2013

Grape: Cabernet Sauvignon
Age For: 15+ years
Similar: Caduceus Proprietary Red “Nagual de la Naga” Arizona 2012 ($47)
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