Why do you think your SVD ages longer than your Appellation?

I can’t help but notice that a lot of folks think their single vineyard designate (SVD) wines age longer than an appellation blended wine from the same winery. Why is that? Is there just a general assumption that SVDs have more backbone, acid, etc., than a blend? Isn’t a blend just a mix of other SVDs in some cases? Wondering if there is some purchasing psychology at work here where we think the more expensive SVD should just age longer because it’s more expensive.

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I think that in general there is a feedback loop in which vintners try to make their more expensive offerings more ageable, customers then expect to age SVD wines longer, and winemakers need to fulfill those expectations.
It only takes a slight initial bias to grow into a significant difference. Experienced tasters should be able to overcome that expectation, and might if they only tasted blind.

P Hickner

A lot of blended wines are put together from barrels that weren’t up to snuff for the SVDs.

Blended bottlings can represent more of winemakers vision of a finished/drinkable wine whereas a single or a few limited barrels rely more on substance of each vineyard from each vintage. Something a fingerprint can be placed on easier and earlier. I know many make these wines to drink while you are waiting for the SVDs. at least that’s tha plan. Never really works in my home though…

Is this all just speculation? Would winemakers agree? Seems like many appellation wines might age well…?

interesting questions. I would be interested to see some winemaker involvement here too.

Depending on the size of the winery a lot of blended wines are merely economics at work. Being able to sell through a release is important for cash flow reasons. Smart people know they can onlynrealisically sell so many cases of a particular wine. Blending some of the SVD’s at a lower retail gives another offering, something more economically friendly to the consumer and ensures easier sell through while retaining the winemaking style.

IMO, depending on the winemaker of course, appellation blends will age just as long as SVDs.

I may also have a small belief that as one gets away from a vintage in time, the characteristics that made it so ‘distinct’ may lessen. The vineyards greatness can and hopefully carry it forward to another form of greatness. Although some qualities like the menthol in Martha Vineyard may not follow suit.

Interesting topic, yet another reason to engage in blind tastings I think. Recently I found a misplaced bottle of 2000 Rochioli RR, pretty so-so year especially for an appellation bottling, it was terrific. The night I drank it I was pondering Scott’s question.

I would love to see some winemakers respond.

Maybe it’s the (misguided) analogy to Burgundy, where there really is a hierarchy (GC, PC, Village, etc.). But in California, that hierarchy doesn’t exist (though there may be parts of certain vineyards that make “better” or more “distinct” wines).

Having said that, there are wines from some producers where the “blend” comes from different vineyards than their SVD wines.

Hmmmmm - perhaps ask some winemakers specifically to chime in here?

My assumption is that you are talking pinots here more than anything else - there seems to be more SVD pinots than anything else. To me, a SVD wine should speak really clearly of that specific vineyard in that given year - but I think what happens more often than not is newer oak tends to end up going here and older barrels tend to go into appellation wines . . . To me, that stands a chance of doing the opposite of what a SVD would want to achieve.

Perhaps this is too much of an assumption on my part, but I’m not so sure . . .


I don’t use new oak for my Pinot Noirs so vineyard designates aren’t simply the new oak cuvees. For me, vineyard designates come from the barrels that show the most intensity of all elements, structure included, and have the most length of flavor. Different barrels from the same fermenter can taste wildly different sometimes, so each barrel is truly a unique thing. Also, my vineyard wines don’t have any press wine in them. Contrary to what I learned as a wine geek, press wine is lighter in color and structure (acid) from the pressing and settling process. So blending those into my AVA cuvees gives a wine with less structure and a more “ready to go” profile. All the wines are made the same way, but you end up with some barrels that have more intensity and stuffing and those typically tell the story of a given vineyard in that year the best.

Great response. Your info dovetails with other accounts I’ve read from the wineries I buy from.

Hmm…I always assume that my girlfriends are going to age less well over time than my wife…but maybe that’s a mistake as well…

(I kid, I kid)…

Adam Lee
Siduri Wines

I keep getting older, they stay the same age. Yes they do…yes they do.

I’m pretty sure this is what folks were looking for as far as winemaker input goes.

Vincent put it well. SVDs are still blends of specific barrels. Some barrels just don’t work well in the blend, so are declassified.

Another factor is the business model of the winery. There’s a certain amount of demand for each wine, for each price point. In a really good vintage a winery may still cap the volume of an SVD and declassify a lot of juice that would otherwise make the cut. In a really poor vintage they may reduce the volume of (or entirely declassify) an SVD to keep the standards of that wine high - a sound long-term business decision that can hurt a bit in the moment.

Another factor inherent to blends is the various components can serve to tame each other. That often makes the resultant wines more approachable young than their components. But, be more approachable young doesn’t necessarily mean they won’t age as well.

I know someone who does something similar to Vincent. Before going into tank for bottling, barrels are sampled and scored. Best barrels of the SVD goes into that wine and everything culled will go into an appellation bottling. Sometimes, if there is juice that didn’t make that cut, it will go into a third wine. It can be vintage dependent and on the type of contract for the year

I find that my Appalachian wine ages terribly. Come to think of it, it isn’t very good young either.