Holding a Washington Wine Until Age 20

I live in Washington and my exposure to wine started with Washington wines more than 20 years ago. I have always liked Washington wines, but always found it hard to hold past 10 years. I never felt like they really improved holding for a longer timeframe, and feared they would just be a former shell of themselves by age 20. Fast forward to a tasting I attended more than 3 years ago and I was pleasantly surprised how good wines from 2001 were from flagship wines made at Quilceda Creek, Betz, Leonetti and Woodward Canyon. The Old Vines from Woodward Canyon seemed like its best years were behind, but others were firing on all cylinders. That tasting has me re-evaluating the drinking windows on wines I actively collect, and I’m now planning on pushing out my cork pulls on Andrew Will Sorella, Delille Harrison Hill, Corliss Cabernet and Cayuse Bionic Frog.

I’m interested hearing from others that have had Washington wines at age 20 that really surprised them: I would prefer conversation to be around wineries that are still going strong today so I can target a fresh set of wines to sock away for the long haul. I’ve heard the vineyard that was used to make the Woodward Canyon Old Vines wines 20 years ago is no longer the same source today, so there is that to navigate through as well.

Do you mean a tasting of the 2019 vintage over 3 years ago? That would place you in 2021 or two years max of aging.

IMO, Quilceda Creek needs a lot of time to show its best. We recently drank a 2005 that was singing. There is no reason that great wines with the right acidity and structure (something good Washington wines have in spades) will not age well. I have also recently had 15 year old Sorella that was phenomenal and will be visiting Woodward Canyon and doing a library tasting at Delille next month and look forward to reporting back.

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Ha ha: Nice catch: They were 2001 vintage wines drank three years ago. Original post corrected.

I would add Cadence to your list of 20 year wines

In my experience I’ve found that Washington Cabs follow aging characteristics that mirror Bordeaux. Certainly more Bordeaux-like than California Cabernet-like.

Washington Cabs evolve slowly, needing 20+ years to even start making significant changes.

I’m going through my '90 WA Cabs now and they are gorgeous.

Peter Rosback


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Easily 20…

I was buying Cadence Ciel du Cheval and Bel Canto from Ben back when 2004-2007 vintages were released. I don’t think I appreciated them as well as I should have back then. Thanks for reminding me to check them out again.

One of the best BDX style blends I’ve ever had, as in like top six, was a 24 year old Woodward Canyon old vines. I can’t remember the vintage unfortunately but it was from the 1980s. I’ve had amazing experiences with BDX blends that vastly exceeded expectations from Dunham, Hedges, Long Shadows, Pepper Bridge and probably a few others I can’t remember right now at >15 years so 20 years would not be a stretch.

I’m not convinced yet that syrahs, which I consider WA’s best variety, are likely to improve beyond 12-15 years (I’m strictly speaking of WA here, I get that Hermitage/Cornas can improve for 20+ years) but I’m keeping an open mind. Mine haven’t lasted that long in the cellar.

Umm, forgot about the DeLille chaleur blanc and the formerly produced Buty white BDX-style blend (no longer produced). Epic agers like the best BDX blanc. Some WBers may be upset with me for sharing that ……

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They haven’t been around for 20 years, but an inexpensive wine called Requiem Cabernet Sauv has the structure to last 20.

I still have one bottle of 07 QC buried. I’ve also tasted lots of older Betz, and I think they hold up quite well.

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On a visit once we had a nearly 20 y/o Viognier at the restaurant that featured Seven Hills, it has since closed down.

Whiff of oxidation but was a very interesting accomplishment to fish & foie gras we had that night.

I’ve had many fantastic experiences with Washington wines at or past age 20. The blends from L’Ecole No. 41 seem to have so much stuffing and, early on, they’re even difficult to evaluate and enjoy. Perigee, Apogee, and Ferguson would all lay down and improve to age 20. To me, those and the earlier Betz Pere de Famille were/are some of the most age-worthy wines from the state. Older Woodward Canyon Old Vines and Dedication Series wines were amazing and aged so well too. The vintages from Woodward between about 2007 and 2015 weren’t as good as those before, and since. They’re improving again and I’d be pretty confident they’d age well past 20 years. A 1990 consumed in 2015 and a 1989 consumed in 2022 were absolutely stellar.

The idea of ageing Syrah or Rhone-style wines from Washington is an interesting one. I’ve had a few Betz Syrah that were great at age 8-10, but don’t think they’d be awesome with another decade. Perhaps some of the Cayuse Syrah could make it. One very experienced Cayuse drinker on these boards says they’re best at age 8+, and he has an excellent palate. 20 years, though? Not sure sure…but I have very little on which to base that opinion. If I was to take a blind shot on a Rhone wine from WA to cellar for 20 years, I’d probably choose Betz, Cayuse, Force Majeure, or Reynvaan. It would be fun to age a non-Walla Walla Syrah too, say a Boushey Vineyard wine (Avennia?).

A friend occasionally brings an older WA wine to some of our tastings, and while they haven’t all been as impressive, a recent bottle of '84 Woodward Canyon Dedication Series Cab was the best old WA wine I’ve ever had, and by a pretty good margin.