Aged wine - what am I missing?

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Mike R
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Aged wine - what am I missing?

#1 Post by Mike R » February 17th, 2020, 5:35 am

Over the years I've had predominantly new world, young (<5 years) wines, as well as several young-ish wines (<10 years). Every time I've had a good bottle of wine that happens to be aged >15 years the predominant tasting note I can come up with is "musty" regardless of the quality of the producer or the cost of the bottle. Given my lack of experience with aged wine, I initially thought that this mustiness was a problem with aging or the bottle itself, but I find this to be nearly universally true for aged wines that I've tasted. Is there some trick that I'm missing in order to unlock these complex flavors everyone talks about? I've tried decanting, not decanting, etc...
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Re: Aged wine - what am I missing?

#2 Post by Bdklein » February 17th, 2020, 6:10 am

Any specific examples of the aged wine to which you are referring ??? And the background (I bought upon release , I found in my friends attic , bought from a retailer)-referred to as provenance .
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Re: Aged wine - what am I missing?

#3 Post by Markus S » February 17th, 2020, 6:25 am

With old wines you'll be missing fruit. Perhaps older wines are not your thing?
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Re: Aged wine - what am I missing?

#4 Post by Kirk.Grant » February 17th, 2020, 6:40 am

Mike R wrote:
February 17th, 2020, 5:35 am
Over the years I've had predominantly new world, young (<5 years) wines, as well as several young-ish wines (<10 years). Every time I've had a good bottle of wine that happens to be aged >15 years the predominant tasting note I can come up with is "musty" regardless of the quality of the producer or the cost of the bottle. Given my lack of experience with aged wine, I initially thought that this mustiness was a problem with aging or the bottle itself, but I find this to be nearly universally true for aged wines that I've tasted. Is there some trick that I'm missing in order to unlock these complex flavors everyone talks about? I've tried decanting, not decanting, etc...
Mike, this is a great topic, thanks for bringing it up. It's really going to depend on what you like and what you look for in a wine. Have you had any older white wines; or is this about reds exclusively? With reds, I think you're talking about how as they age there is a point where the bright fruit shifts and transitions away and more rustic notes start to transition in. Violets transition into dried or decaying flowers, notes of mushroom come forward, and fruit starts to show a more dried character rather than fresh or jam.
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Re: Aged wine - what am I missing?

#5 Post by John Morris » February 17th, 2020, 6:42 am

Mike - Without knowing what aged wines you've shrugged at, it's really hard to know if you just prefer younger wines (perfectly legitimate) or if it's the wines. The overwhelming proportion of all wines are meant to be drunk in the first few years after release and won't gain anything from aging.
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Re: Aged wine - what am I missing?

#6 Post by Sh@n A » February 17th, 2020, 6:49 am

I have had some wines which definitely have that musty old library book feel, which hasn't bothered others at the table (eg many 50+ old nebbiolo). So you may be more sensitive to that sensation. But not all old wines have that feel. Someone generously shared an 89 Lynch Bage a few weeks ago that was absolutely stellar (at 'only' 30 years old).
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Re: Aged wine - what am I missing?

#7 Post by Mike R » February 17th, 2020, 8:22 am

Thanks for all the replies everyone. Here are some of the recent bottles I've tried, all were tasted in 2019 / 2020, as well as the provenance:

1979 Insignia - purchased on release and stored in a temperature controlled cellar.
1990 Sociando-Mallet - purchased on release and stored in a temperature controlled cellar.
1988 Château Pontet-Canet - purchased at 11 Madison Park
1992 Far Niente - purchased at auction
1990 Sterling Reserve (Magnum) - purchased at auction

I've found this to be even more prevalent amongst aged white wine, which I have stopped drinking all together (aged white) as a result. Some of the aforementioned bottles were better than others, with different flavors, but the one common characteristic amongst all of them is that the wines are very "musty" to me. I find that this mustiness dominates all other flavors and almost makes the wine unenjoyable.

I am most curious about this as I have found that my wine tastes have evolved over time. When I first started getting seriously into wine, I loved big bold Napa cabs, like Caymus. As the years have passed, I now find Caymus to be almost undrinkable chemical water, and I now strongly prefer more balanced wines or wines that are more acidic. I do wonder if I will find the same thing with aged wine as the years progress.
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Re: Aged wine - what am I missing?

#8 Post by Robert.A.Jr. » February 17th, 2020, 8:44 am

Mike R wrote:
February 17th, 2020, 8:22 am
Thanks for all the replies everyone. Here are some of the recent bottles I've tried, all were tasted in 2019 / 2020, as well as the provenance:

1979 Insignia - purchased on release and stored in a temperature controlled cellar.
1990 Sociando-Mallet - purchased on release and stored in a temperature controlled cellar.
1988 Château Pontet-Canet - purchased at 11 Madison Park
1992 Far Niente - purchased at auction
1990 Sterling Reserve (Magnum) - purchased at auction

I've found this to be even more prevalent amongst aged white wine, which I have stopped drinking all together (aged white) as a result. Some of the aforementioned bottles were better than others, with different flavors, but the one common characteristic amongst all of them is that the wines are very "musty" to me. I find that this mustiness dominates all other flavors and almost makes the wine unenjoyable.

I am most curious about this as I have found that my wine tastes have evolved over time. When I first started getting seriously into wine, I loved big bold Napa cabs, like Caymus. As the years have passed, I now find Caymus to be almost undrinkable chemical water, and I now strongly prefer more balanced wines or wines that are more acidic. I do wonder if I will find the same thing with aged wine as the years progress.
Given your posts, I'm not surprised that you were not thrilled with the mature Bordeaux. Bordeaux from that era - some of us might call it the era when classic Bordeaux reigned supreme - often throw a funk that can either intoxicate, or in your case, turn off. I call it the Bordeaux perfume, or part of it, along with rich deep fruit and cassis, and earth (wet or dry depending on the appellation), being the other part. Some of the funk can be brett, it certainly exists in many Bordeaux from that era, which in very slight amounts, can be part of that complex perfume. Think, the Cordier stable of wines from the 1980s, Gruaud Larose, Talbot, Meyney, Cantemerle (i.e., the "Cordier funk"). I'm really not surprised by your posts that you did not like Sociando, that's quite the iconoclastic wine, often showing a green, herbal streak in addition to some general funk. I know Bordeaux fans that do not like this Chateau at all. I will say, however, when "on," that 1990 Sociando can be spectacular. Comes from a more ripe vintage, offsetting some of the under-ripe, pyrazine notes that sometimes are found in Sociando. I'm surprised you have had this wine for over 25+ years without trying to see if you even liked it. Must be an interesting backstory!

I'll defer to others on the California wine.
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Re: Aged wine - what am I missing?

#9 Post by Mike R » February 17th, 2020, 9:09 am

Robert.A.Jr. wrote:
February 17th, 2020, 8:44 am

Given your posts, I'm not surprised that you were not thrilled with the mature Bordeaux. Bordeaux from that era - some of us might call it the era when classic Bordeaux reigned supreme - often throw a funk that can either intoxicate, or in your case, turn off. I call it the Bordeaux perfume, or part of it, along with rich deep fruit and cassis, and earth (wet or dry depending on the appellation), being the other part. Some of the funk can be brett, it certainly exists in many Bordeaux from that era, which in very slight amounts, can be part of that complex perfume. Think, the Cordier stable of wines from the 1980s, Grauard Larose, Talbot, Meyney, Cantemerle (i.e., the 'Cordier funk"). I'm really not surprised by your posts that you did not like Sociando, that's quite the iconoclastic wine, often showing a green, herbal streak in addition to some general funk. I know Bordeaux fans that do not like this Chateau at all. I will say, however, when "on," that 1990 Sociando can be spectacular. Comes from a more ripe vintage, offsetting some of the under-ripe, pyrazine notes that sometimes are found in Sociando. I'm surprised you have had this wine for over 25+ years without trying to see if you even liked it. Must be an interesting backstory!

I'll defer to others on the California wine.
Unfortunately, way less interesting than expected. This was purchased on release and stored in cellar by a close family friend who really helped get me into wine. That bottle is only a handful of years younger than me!
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Re: Aged wine - what am I missing?

#10 Post by Richard T r i m p i » February 17th, 2020, 9:13 am

Mike R wrote:
February 17th, 2020, 5:35 am
Given my lack of experience with aged wine, I initially thought that this mustiness was a problem with aging or the bottle itself, but I find this to be nearly universally true for aged wines that I've tasted. Is there some trick that I'm missing in order to unlock these complex flavors everyone talks about?
Maybe you just don't like aged wine. It's not a sin and will probably save you money. Easier to buy young than going through the hassle of hunting down and purchasing aged "treasures" at retail or auction.

Stick with "young" wines, but don't give up completely on tasting older ones when offered/available...for the sake of science. [berserker.gif]

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Re: Aged wine - what am I missing?

#11 Post by Jeff_M. » February 17th, 2020, 9:18 am

Everyone has a different palette. Young wines have great, fresh fruit and with time that fruit fades giving different tasting characteristics. Drink em young if that's how you like them.
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Re: Aged wine - what am I missing?

#12 Post by Scott E. » February 17th, 2020, 9:36 am

I know exactly where you are coming from. I don't have an appreciation for musty wet leaves, mushroom soup and little to no fruit either. I drink 90% of my wine before it reaches 8 years of age. I think it is natural to think there should be a direct relationship between age and complexity. Now, the leaves/mushroom/no fruit thing can certainly be someone's definition of complexity, but not mine. Unfortunately, it seems like my itch for complexity could only be scratched by $100 cabs... which are now $250+ cabs and out of reach from a budget perspective. Try some decent Cali Bdx blends and some Syrah from the Rocks in Oregon/Walla Walla with 7-8 years of age and see what happens? I may be wrong, but a wine with complexity will show at least some of its cards at an early age, so as suggested above, try a few when they are young to guide you in your search. Cheers!
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Re: Aged wine - what am I missing?

#13 Post by Mike R » February 17th, 2020, 9:44 am

It seems that the majority of responses are saying to "just drink young wine." I completely agree with the view that the best wines are the ones you like, but the point of this post is more to try to understand what it is that people like about aged wines. Do people that enjoy aged wines just not taste the "musty" smell I'm referring to, or do they actively enjoy it and seek it out?
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Re: Aged wine - what am I missing?

#14 Post by John Morris » February 17th, 2020, 9:50 am

Mike R wrote:
February 17th, 2020, 9:44 am
It seems that the majority of responses are saying to "just drink young wine." I completely agree with the view that the best wines are the ones you like, but the point of this post is more to try to understand what it is that people like about aged wines. Do people that enjoy aged wines just not taste the "musty" smell I'm referring to, or do they actively enjoy it and seek it out?
It's really hard to know what you are describing as musty. Unless someone else with experience with the wines was there, it's hard to correlate terms.

I love the scent of (well stored) old cabernet-based wines like Napa cabs and Bordeaux. I don't think of it as musty. More earthy to me. But most wines lose their obvious fruitiness with age, and maybe that's what you like best. I love good old wines, but I derive a HUGE amount of pleasure from young everyday wines. So I get it if that's your preference.
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Re: Aged wine - what am I missing?

#15 Post by Yao C » February 17th, 2020, 9:58 am

If I might offer a dissenting opinion, I find certain (by no means all!) older wines can display soaring, crystalline tertiary flavors. Sometimes this is fruity, other times this is floral (e.g. old Nebbiolo). "Mustiness" has been pretty far from my mind when I've had these experiences. I've had such experiences with old California cab (e.g. 1982 and 1984 Carmenet), old Bordeaux (e.g. 1990 Lagrange, St Julien), old Nebbiolo (e.g. 1973 Fratelli Francoli Gattinara). These experiences are out there, my hit rate is not high, but I chase them nonetheless
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Re: Aged wine - what am I missing?

#16 Post by Vince T » February 17th, 2020, 10:00 am

Mike R wrote:
February 17th, 2020, 9:09 am
Unfortunately, way less interesting than expected. This was purchased on release and stored in cellar by a close family friend who really helped get me into wine. That bottle is only a handful of years younger than me!
Mike, it's quite probable that your palate will evolve over time - My palate shifted significantly in my mid-30s and continues to evolve. The first time I had an aged Riesling, I thought the petrol was overwhelming and tasted quite wrong. But then for days afterwards, I kept thinking about it and wanting to have that weird taste in my mouth again.

I often think about a Chang-Rae Lee story in the New Yorker a few years back about his first encounter with sea urchin. It's a funny very different sort of Proustian memory:
https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2002 ... sea-urchin
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Re: Aged wine - what am I missing?

#17 Post by John Morris » February 17th, 2020, 10:05 am

Mike R wrote:
February 17th, 2020, 8:22 am
I've found this to be even more prevalent amongst aged white wine, which I have stopped drinking all together (aged white) as a result.
Again, I don't know what aged whites you had, or how old they were, but as a generalization, dry whites don't last as long as reds. Many deteriorate after just a few years.
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Re: Aged wine - what am I missing?

#18 Post by larry schaffer » February 17th, 2020, 10:08 am

This really is an interesting post and one that hits home with many that I know. I can tell you that in my earlier days of wine drinking, I know I poured some 'older' wines down the drain because they simply did not meet my expectations of 'what a wine was supposed to be like' based on other wines that I had had. Luckily, I know I didn't do this very often . . .

As I've gotten more into wine and learned more about the nuances of it, I've learned to appreciate the 'uniqueness' that older wines bring to the table. Are they always 'bursting with fruit'? Of course not. Do they have some of the 'sexy' new oak notes that many find appealing? Not so much.

But what an older wine definitely tends to do is take you on a 'singular journey', and one that is so different than most younger wines. Nearly every older red wine that I've consumed - and not nearly as many as many on this board have - has started off slightly muted, with tertiary notes of mushrooms and oftentimes beef bullion. Give it time and patience, though, and it generally opens up to something so beautiful and complex. But even when older wines 'underwhelm', I am still awed by whatever they can offer, noting that these wines were made at a different time with a much different mindset - and techniques - of modern winemaking.

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Re: Aged wine - what am I missing?

#19 Post by S teve R edenbaugh » February 17th, 2020, 10:23 am

Hard to explain the seduction of mature world class wines. For me it's often a question of balance. Bordeaux or bordeaux-blend wines develop secondary or tertiary aromas that are often dirt, earth, mushroom, forest-floor, or herbal. These should not dominate a wine, but subtly integrate themselves with the fresher, more fruit-driven aromas and flavors into a complex mosaic. Additionally, the harsher, sharper tannins present round out or fall to the bottom as some of the sediment. And the acidity begins it's eternal yin-yang dance with the sweeter, more fruit reminiscent nuances of flavor. Finally the often overwhelming young oak notes begin to soften and round. Again, it's all about balance and a leaning towards complexity that only comes with age. A mature, world class wine evolves in the glass...changing over time with exposure to air. I know that this all sounds like voodoo mumbo-jumbo. But every great wine should offer you varying degrees of pleasure, even at a young, undeveloped age. I would wager your palate will indeed change over time. If not, have no fear....drink what you like and let no-one deter you or demean your choice. If indeed, you decide that aged wine is not your cup of tea, rejoice. You will save lots of money.

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Re: Aged wine - what am I missing?

#20 Post by Gerhard P. » February 17th, 2020, 10:33 am

I don't know but it might be that the aged wines didn't get enough air ... open 5 hours in advance without decant, then decant and serve immediately and slowly ... might help a bit ...
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Re: Aged wine - what am I missing?

#21 Post by Mike R » February 17th, 2020, 10:47 am

Gerhard P. wrote:
February 17th, 2020, 10:33 am
I don't know but it might be that the aged wines didn't get enough air ... open 5 hours in advance without decant, then decant and serve immediately and slowly ... might help a bit ...
This could be my issue - I've tried decanting for about an hour, and not decanting pouring directly into glasses, but I've never left it open for several hours without decanting. Is this how you're supposed to serve aged wine?
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Re: Aged wine - what am I missing?

#22 Post by C. Keller » February 17th, 2020, 11:03 am

Same experience here as Mike. I've had 3 bottles of Ravenswood (2 Zin, 1 Syrah) from the most recent library release and I've dumped all of them down the drain. As well as having a few other older wines its just not for me. That spearmint, mushroom, rot, leafy flavor could gag a maggot.
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Re: Aged wine - what am I missing?

#23 Post by Markus S » February 17th, 2020, 11:11 am

Mike R wrote:
February 17th, 2020, 9:44 am
It seems that the majority of responses are saying to "just drink young wine." I completely agree with the view that the best wines are the ones you like, but the point of this post is more to try to understand what it is that people like about aged wines. Do people that enjoy aged wines just not taste the "musty" smell I'm referring to, or do they actively enjoy it and seek it out?
I hope what you are describing as "musty" is not a corked wines, because that can be one of the characteristics of extreme mustiness, like that of a damp basement or wet newspaper. When wines become mature, hopefully the young upfront fruit and youthful tannins are replaced by a more nuanced wine that has more complexity going on. Like others have said, it doesn't always work out that way, but when it does, it becomes a sublime experience.
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Re: Aged wine - what am I missing?

#24 Post by DavidFrankil » February 17th, 2020, 11:11 am

I've also had the same experience, and have wondered the same thing - what am I doing wrong? Some I've decanted for hours, assuming the mustiness would go away, but to no avail.
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Re: Aged wine - what am I missing?

#25 Post by Gerhard P. » February 17th, 2020, 11:11 am

Mike R wrote:
February 17th, 2020, 10:47 am
Gerhard P. wrote:
February 17th, 2020, 10:33 am
I don't know but it might be that the aged wines didn't get enough air ... open 5 hours in advance without decant, then decant and serve immediately and slowly ... might help a bit ...
This could be my issue - I've tried decanting for about an hour, and not decanting pouring directly into glasses, but I've never left it open for several hours without decanting. Is this how you're supposed to serve aged wine?
Yes, decanting only 10-20 min. before serving (after hours of opening) works best for me ...
but no guarantee that you will like it better ...
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Re: Aged wine - what am I missing?

#26 Post by Marcus Dean » February 17th, 2020, 11:19 am

Mike,
Every single wine lover has their own favourite method of breathing, decanting and serving wine, what works best for one bottle might not be exactly the treatment needed to bring the best out of the next, with older bottles they are all individuals and nothing can be taken for granted.
I remember feeling the same way as you and I really couldnt understand what all the fuss was about with older wines, to me they just tasted OLD. Then I had a series of epiphanies with older wines that really blew me away and I am still chasing that exact emotion every time I open a bottle.

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Re: Aged wine - what am I missing?

#27 Post by dsimmons » February 17th, 2020, 11:28 am

To me the primary force at work here is personal preference. I would encourage you to continue exploring and experimenting to determine your personal sweet spot(s).

I personally enjoy aged wine. What you perceive as mustiness I might perceive as "muted fruit" or elegance. It is all about what you like.
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Re: Aged wine - what am I missing?

#28 Post by Josh Grossman » February 17th, 2020, 11:46 am

Mike R wrote:
February 17th, 2020, 9:44 am
It seems that the majority of responses are saying to "just drink young wine." I completely agree with the view that the best wines are the ones you like, but the point of this post is more to try to understand what it is that people like about aged wines. Do people that enjoy aged wines just not taste the "musty" smell I'm referring to, or do they actively enjoy it and seek it out?
Have you had clearly corked wine? That taste like wet cardboard and musty.

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Re: Aged wine - what am I missing?

#29 Post by John Morris » February 17th, 2020, 12:35 pm

DavidFrankil wrote:
February 17th, 2020, 11:11 am
I've also had the same experience, and have wondered the same thing - what am I doing wrong? Some I've decanted for hours, assuming the mustiness would go away, but to no avail.
Can you give us a couple of examples?
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Re: Aged wine - what am I missing?

#30 Post by Juliec » February 17th, 2020, 1:07 pm

What’s that quote about better to drink a wine in it’s youth than in it’s old age. The age of your bottles are much older pushing 40 years for most. It would be really tough to store wines perfectly for that long.

I have been lucky enough to have some older wines (up to 1986 for CA Cabernet, 1967 for Riesling) and have found them to be pretty interesting and complex. For me I would rather have my CA cabernet’s on the 10-15 year side at most and probably 5-10 is safest. There is a little Brett at the open, but after 1-2 hours, the smell wears down. The offlines that Jonathan put together in NYC (and a recent tasting that Shan put together) is where I have been able to taste many of these older wines that the New York wine group have been collecting... thanks to a group (Jonathan, Tom, Mike, Dinesh, Chris, Tony, Dennis, Wendi, if I forgot anyone my apologies), as well as the German Riesling Study that Robert put together (thanks Jay for the Hune :) and thanks Robert for placing me at an amazing, amazing table) and of course, David for hosting another amazing wine tasting gathering.

Mike - I would look at notes from those tastings, they are out there for the WOTN or good call outs. I haven’t tasted that many old Bordeaux or CA Cabernets, but the ones at those tastings didn’t have the musty notes that you mentioned. I do feel like there is generally some Brett at the opening of the bottles, but it blows over after 1-2 hours. Definitely old Rieslings will not be musty. Diamond Mountain, Ravenswood, Barolos, Champagnes, Burgundies, and German/Austrian Rieslings in my limited tastings seem to have some interesting notes when aged 15-20-30 years.
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Re: Aged wine - what am I missing?

#31 Post by john stimson » February 17th, 2020, 1:10 pm

Gerhard P. wrote:
February 17th, 2020, 10:33 am
I don't know but it might be that the aged wines didn't get enough air ... open 5 hours in advance without decant, then decant and serve immediately and slowly ... might help a bit ...
I'm guessing as well that this is your problem. Many older wines need time to wake up, so I suspect you are trying to consume them before they've had a chance to come alive. Mustiness and mushrooms are not prominent components for me of good aged wines, and the vast majority have plenty of fruit, and hopefully soaring aromatics.

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Re: Aged wine - what am I missing?

#32 Post by Mark Golodetz » February 17th, 2020, 1:21 pm

I think the most interesting thing in this thread is how many people agree with the OP.
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Re: Aged wine - what am I missing?

#33 Post by Richard T r i m p i » February 17th, 2020, 1:26 pm

Mark Golodetz wrote:
February 17th, 2020, 1:21 pm
I think the most interesting thing in this thread is how many people agree with the OP.
Based on my recent streak of 2005 Right Bank and 2009 Bojo...feels like I'm cellaring wines to not like them with age. neener

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Re: Aged wine - what am I missing?

#34 Post by Michael Martin » February 17th, 2020, 1:29 pm

Josh Grossman wrote:
February 17th, 2020, 11:46 am
Mike R wrote:
February 17th, 2020, 9:44 am
It seems that the majority of responses are saying to "just drink young wine." I completely agree with the view that the best wines are the ones you like, but the point of this post is more to try to understand what it is that people like about aged wines. Do people that enjoy aged wines just not taste the "musty" smell I'm referring to, or do they actively enjoy it and seek it out?
Have you had clearly corked wine? That taste like wet cardboard and musty.
That was my first thought as well. I have had many aged wines and the only musty ones, are corked.

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Re: Aged wine - what am I missing?

#35 Post by Yao C » February 17th, 2020, 1:36 pm

Mark Golodetz wrote:
February 17th, 2020, 1:21 pm
I think the most interesting thing in this thread is how many people agree with the OP.
I'm flat out surprised, given the audience

But hey, more old wine for me! [berserker.gif]
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Re: Aged wine - what am I missing?

#36 Post by J. Rock » February 17th, 2020, 1:52 pm

Someone opened a 1990 Rayas yesterday. There was seepage, so he knew it might be compromised. It wasn't undrinkable (and was very smooth), but there was no fruit left and it was a bit musty, especially at first.

We also opened a 2001 Riesling Auslese, which was musty upon opening (someone smelled "mothballs," though others disagree). However, after an hour or so, the wine really showing very well.

I think there's a lot of potential variation with older bottles. Sometimes they need some air, sometimes they weren't stored ideally, sometimes it could've just been an off bottle to begin with, etc. I think you should keep on tasting old wines when you get the chance, but maybe no invest too heavily in them unless you finally discover something that impresses you.
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Re: Aged wine - what am I missing?

#37 Post by Mike R » February 17th, 2020, 2:28 pm

Josh Grossman wrote:
February 17th, 2020, 11:46 am
Mike R wrote:
February 17th, 2020, 9:44 am
It seems that the majority of responses are saying to "just drink young wine." I completely agree with the view that the best wines are the ones you like, but the point of this post is more to try to understand what it is that people like about aged wines. Do people that enjoy aged wines just not taste the "musty" smell I'm referring to, or do they actively enjoy it and seek it out?
Have you had clearly corked wine? That taste like wet cardboard and musty.
I haven't, but given that I see this on nearly every bottle I try I can't imagine that they are all corked.
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Re: Aged wine - what am I missing?

#38 Post by Sc0tt F!tzger@ld » February 17th, 2020, 2:34 pm


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Re: Aged wine - what am I missing?

#39 Post by Mike R » February 17th, 2020, 2:38 pm

Mark Golodetz wrote:
February 17th, 2020, 1:21 pm
I think the most interesting thing in this thread is how many people agree with the OP.
For what it's worth, I've discussed this with folks who are seriously into wine, and I've gotten several similar responses. One of these folks has a theory that aged wine is an emperor's new clothes situation, and no one really enjoys deeply aged wine, but everyone is afraid to admit it.
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Re: Aged wine - what am I missing?

#40 Post by Robert.A.Jr. » February 17th, 2020, 2:59 pm

Mike R wrote:
February 17th, 2020, 2:38 pm
Mark Golodetz wrote:
February 17th, 2020, 1:21 pm
I think the most interesting thing in this thread is how many people agree with the OP.
For what it's worth, I've discussed this with folks who are seriously into wine, and I've gotten several similar responses. One of these folks has a theory that aged wine is an emperor's new clothes situation, and no one really enjoys deeply aged wine, but everyone is afraid to admit it.
Which for the most part, is truly laughable. I assume it was meant tongue in check.

Mike, something to try is to participate in a vertical of some wineries that are known to age beautifully. It gives you a great perspective on how wine X changes over time, and will help you calibrate what stage of evolution you seem to prefer. If none are on the horizon, grab some buddies and say 4-6 wines of pedigree, say a Classified Growth Bordeaux, to try at key stages, primary, secondary and tertiary. Something like 2014-2016 for Bottle 1, 2000-04 for Bottle 2, Perhaps 1990 or 1995 for Bottle 3, and then something classic from the 1980s. Could toss in an 09 and 05 for extra measure. I would personally recommend a wine that stylistically has not changed, not new modern consultants, as that introduces a new variable. A Leoville Barton would be excellent.

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Re: Aged wine - what am I missing?

#41 Post by Marcus Dean » February 17th, 2020, 3:03 pm

Mike R wrote:
February 17th, 2020, 2:38 pm
Mark Golodetz wrote:
February 17th, 2020, 1:21 pm
I think the most interesting thing in this thread is how many people agree with the OP.
For what it's worth, I've discussed this with folks who are seriously into wine, and I've gotten several similar responses. One of these folks has a theory that aged wine is an emperor's new clothes situation, and no one really enjoys deeply aged wine, but everyone is afraid to admit it.
Nah, I have to disagree with that, I have had some mind bendingly good older wines.

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Re: Aged wine - what am I missing?

#42 Post by Sarah Kirschbaum » February 17th, 2020, 3:12 pm

Mike R wrote:
February 17th, 2020, 2:38 pm
Mark Golodetz wrote:
February 17th, 2020, 1:21 pm
I think the most interesting thing in this thread is how many people agree with the OP.
For what it's worth, I've discussed this with folks who are seriously into wine, and I've gotten several similar responses. One of these folks has a theory that aged wine is an emperor's new clothes situation, and no one really enjoys deeply aged wine, but everyone is afraid to admit it.
I assure you this is not the case, unless what you are calling "deeply aged" is code for dead. I do think sometimes people are hesitant to admit when a wine is dead, and some people simply have more of an affinity for tertiary flavors, madeirization and lack for fruit than others do. And sometimes people aren't sure enough of themselves to say when a wine has gone beyond their comfort zone. It is not such a pervasive and wide spread discomfort, though, that hundreds of people would spend millions of dollars and decades of their lives aging wine...just because they are afraid to admit they don't like it aged? I don't think so.

In your OP you stated that you have had this "musty" experience with all wines over 15 years of age. This is actually not deeply aged to me at all for most of the world's great wines, which leads me to believe there's something about mature characteristics that just smells bad to you. How about mouthfeel? There is a definite change in texture that occurs when wines age, and sometimes I experience that as a dustiness, not unpleasant to me, though it usually takes well over 15 years of age to get there.

As others have said, not every wine can age well, and not all have been given the chance to. But some can become god-like in their perfection. Have you had a perfect '21 Yquem? A perfect '47 Cheval Blanc? A perfect '64 Cristal? Neither have I, to be honest, though I once had a sub-par '64 Cristal that was still transcendent. Those who have, I'd guess, found something that moved them to the core of their soul to such an extent that they were willing (to the extent they were able) to dedicate huge sums of money and time to having that experience again. Even those of us who have only had more modest versions of this experience have thrown ourselves into that pursuit, heart, body, soul and wallet.
Last edited by Sarah Kirschbaum on February 17th, 2020, 3:18 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Aged wine - what am I missing?

#43 Post by Thomas Keim » February 17th, 2020, 3:14 pm

One big thing to remember is this -

Every wine has a different drinking window. I would be hard pressed to find a big California Zinfandel that wasn't in it's prime five years after release. Most top Cali cabs hit their peak at ten years (and of course there are exceptions - with maybe 1% of annual production). As others have remarked, some wines do get funky with age.

What comments are surprising are the ones where they say that older wines lose their fruit. A Left Bank Bordeaux from a top vintage should be overflowing with fruit at 15-20 years of age. I've had 50 year old Bordeaux that were absolute fruit bombs.

Today's modern Bordeaux are hitting their peak earlier, so are the more modern Brunello and Barolo.

It's ok for a fully mature wine to be eight years old. The key is being perceptive to each wine's drinking window.
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Re: Aged wine - what am I missing?

#44 Post by Robert.A.Jr. » February 17th, 2020, 3:23 pm

Thomas Keim wrote:
February 17th, 2020, 3:14 pm
One big thing to remember is this -

What comments are surprising are the ones where they say that older wines lose their fruit. A Left Bank Bordeaux from a top vintage should be overflowing with fruit at 15-20 years of age. I've had 50 year old Bordeaux that were absolute fruit bombs.
Sticking with my Leoville Barton comment, I’ve had some Leovilles (Barton, Poyferre and Las Cases) from the 1918-26 range from Bern’s that were not only alive, but some were vibrant and gorgeous. I will admit that’s the possible exception when you go to 100 or so years, having close to perfect provenance there and slightly colder than normal storage temperatures.

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Re: Aged wine - what am I missing?

#45 Post by Hank Victor » February 17th, 2020, 3:56 pm

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Re: Aged wine - what am I missing?

#46 Post by JLee » February 17th, 2020, 4:16 pm

Mike R wrote:
February 17th, 2020, 2:38 pm
Mark Golodetz wrote:
February 17th, 2020, 1:21 pm
I think the most interesting thing in this thread is how many people agree with the OP.
For what it's worth, I've discussed this with folks who are seriously into wine, and I've gotten several similar responses. One of these folks has a theory that aged wine is an emperor's new clothes situation, and no one really enjoys deeply aged wine, but everyone is afraid to admit it.
I've really liked some older wines but I think your friend is far closer to right than wrong.

Differences in wine are subtle but wine enthusiasts' descriptions of those differences tend to be hyperbolic. There's also a massive propensity to report favorably on wines that are rare, expensive, historical, or exclusive. Aged well known wines usually meet these criteria. Often even a mediocre performance can be met with raves. It takes some time reading and listening to people talk about wine to figure out how to calibrate their statements to your own expectations.
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Re: Aged wine - what am I missing?

#47 Post by K. Tr@n » February 17th, 2020, 5:31 pm

I had 5-6 different insignia vintages all at once, and the younger ones are showing much better than the older ones. The scores also reflect the preference so not sure if they just make better wine, or younger wine is better.
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Re: Aged wine - what am I missing?

#48 Post by DavidFrankil » February 17th, 2020, 5:35 pm

John Morris wrote:
February 17th, 2020, 12:35 pm
DavidFrankil wrote:
February 17th, 2020, 11:11 am
I've also had the same experience, and have wondered the same thing - what am I doing wrong? Some I've decanted for hours, assuming the mustiness would go away, but to no avail.
Can you give us a couple of examples?
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Re: Aged wine - what am I missing?

#49 Post by John Morris » February 17th, 2020, 6:09 pm

Thomas Keim wrote:
February 17th, 2020, 3:14 pm
What comments are surprising are the ones where they say that older wines lose their fruit. A Left Bank Bordeaux from a top vintage should be overflowing with fruit at 15-20 years of age. I've had 50 year old Bordeaux that were absolute fruit bombs.
I was one of the first people who referred to mature wines losing fruitiness. They definitely lose primary fruitiness, which is very appealing, so I understand how some people might prefer wines young.

I tend to like my "serious" wines (Bordeaux, Burgundy, Barolo/Barbaresco, Northern Rhone, German riesling) with a lot of age, when they gain those tertiary aromas. But I like zin young. I've had many old Ridge zins that have gone into that popular "claret" stage, and I find them less interesting. So I can kind of relate to the OP. I feel the same way about lots of other wines (e.g., Graillot Crozes-Hermitage).
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Re: Aged wine - what am I missing?

#50 Post by Mike R » February 17th, 2020, 6:16 pm

Robert.A.Jr. wrote:
February 17th, 2020, 2:59 pm
Mike R wrote:
February 17th, 2020, 2:38 pm
Mark Golodetz wrote:
February 17th, 2020, 1:21 pm
I think the most interesting thing in this thread is how many people agree with the OP.
For what it's worth, I've discussed this with folks who are seriously into wine, and I've gotten several similar responses. One of these folks has a theory that aged wine is an emperor's new clothes situation, and no one really enjoys deeply aged wine, but everyone is afraid to admit it.
Which for the most part, is truly laughable. I assume it was meant tongue in check.

Mike, something to try is to participate in a vertical of some wineries that are known to age beautifully. It gives you a great perspective on how wine X changes over time, and will help you calibrate what stage of evolution you seem to prefer. If none are on the horizon, grab some buddies and say 4-6 wines of pedigree, say a Classified Growth Bordeaux, to try at key stages, primary, secondary and tertiary. Something like 2014-2016 for Bottle 1, 2000-04 for Bottle 2, Perhaps 1990 or 1995 for Bottle 3, and then something classic from the 1980s. Could toss in an 09 and 05 for extra measure. I would personally recommend a wine that stylistically has not changed, not new modern consultants, as that introduces a new variable. A Leoville Barton would be excellent.
He was referring to deeply aged as in 50+ year aged bottles. The conversation came up in the context of 1945 Chateau Mouton going for $10,000+ a bottle. My grandfather was a collector of BDX following WW2, and had (along with a ton of other wines), 3 cases of the 1945 Mouton that were given to his children upon his passing. Unfortunately, he simply kept his collection in his cellar, and the variability in temp essentially made his entire collection worthless. I can only imagine what the collection would have been worth if stored properly, but I have to imagine it would be in the millions.

With respect to your suggestion on the vertical tasting, that sounds like a wonderful idea to really explore this issue in further detail. I'll definitely see if I can find some folks who would be interested in doing this with me. Sadly most of friends aren't as into wine as I am, so this may need to wait until I'm able to meet up with the aforementioned family friend who is as into wine as I am.
Last edited by Mike R on February 17th, 2020, 6:21 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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