Wine aging and group think

Sometimes I wonder why I sit on all this wine waiting for it to magically transform into some awesome elixir. This weekend I opened a 2011 Bedrock Papera Ranch Zinfandel that had transformed into something that I didn’t enjoy as much as I did the last time I opened one. I mean, it was good and all but it was way better when it was younger. What am I waiting for?

Last night I popped a 1993 Ravenswood Sonoma County Merlot that had the ultimate provenance. It was well beyond its prime and unimpressive for me. I’ll have to open a few more from my mixed case before passing judgement but my experience with other 30 year old Ravenswoods, or other producers for that matter, have been similar and I chocked it up to provenance. Interesting but not satisfying enough to keep me engaged. Just not what I’m looking for in a wine. The Bedrock from the previous evening, while not at that point, was on its way to moving in that direction.

I’ve had other aged wines that have shown fresh and lively so I know it’s possible and maybe I just had a poor run or perhaps that’s just not what I enjoy. So I ask, what am I waiting for sitting on wines that are “not ready yet” when they may well be ready? Or worse, in decline. I know there are exceptions but not for the wines I have always enjoyed in their youth. I find myself opening the cellar and having a hard time choosing a wine when there are 700+ possible choices staring me in the face.

Tonight I instead told myself to grab the first ‘16 or ‘17 I read on a cork. I opened a 2016 The Bedrock Heritage that is lovely and I think, the heck with all of the wine geeks who think these aren’t ready. Let them wait for the fruit and liveliness to drain out of their wines. I’m going back to being a cork puller. Wine was way more fun back then.

I truly enjoy opening an old wine and finding it exceeds my expectations but these experiences are too few and far between to make me want to age my entire collection. I’m not alone right?

I’ve had the same experience. Also usually with CA wines. Are you aging the wrong wine?

Perhaps, or do I just not like some ofbthe secondary aromas and flavors? That’s what I am in conflict with really. I’m finding I am enjoying the freshness and exuberance of a youthful wine over herbal stewed quality of a wine aged too long for my tastes.

As people often say, wine changes with age, but whether that change is something you prefer more or less than the taste of the same wine young, that’s really a subjective thing. If you like Bedrock zin young rather than older, you should definitely drink it younger.

For me, its all gambling and educated guesses to try and find layers in something that is a known quantity at one point in time and can be more later.

I’ve struggled with things that were sure fired you can’t miss and lost. Anger and disappointment.

And, I’ve forgot about something, past peak, past salad dressing material, by time, and it shows up as something special (lots of Italy there)

Like the market, we all just want to win more than we lose. And that said, we will lose sometimes. Unlike the market, depending on how many you got (a crystal ball), you can taste over time and home in on that perfect moment. I’ve commit infanticide often to get a baseline and see what I got. Can’t do so with the one-and-dones, and I have many awaiting, I’m taking a knee.

My understanding is that a lot of people prefer Zins at around 5-7 years of age. This could be wrong, but I’ve read it in more than one place.

Drinking windows are super subjective. So many people are afraid to consume their wines “too young,” but if the wine is drinking well to your palate, to me that’s an indicator that it’s the time to drink up. It means that you’re enjoying where the wine is at that moment. Why not continue to enjoy it? If you’re scared of missing out on potential positively ageing development, tuck away a bottle or two and drink the rest.

If I’ve got multiple bottles of a wine and I find it’s drinking really well, I’m going to continue to pop bottles and drink it, regardless of the vintage on the label.

I have been drinking zins for over 40 years.My experiences with zin is that they taste less like zin and more like claret or cabernet as they age. I buy zin because I like the flavor profile. That said I drink them in the first three or four years after release. I have friends that prefer what happens to zin with age. I do drink bordeaux and burgundy with lots of age. I like how they change and all of the complexity that is added.

This. Maybe these wines were not made to be aged this long? Not all wine is made in that style.

Have you had much aged wine from the old world to compare?

Better to drink too early than too late.

As long as the 25 years rule is obeyed champagne.gif


I think Bordeaux and burgundy almost always profit from age. Barolo too. But California and Oregon wines don’t necessarily need age. I think the myth that all red wines improve with aging arises from experience with European wines.

I think we’ve been sold a bill of goods with aging wines. I think the sweet spot is finding wines that fall in that spot between “not ready” and “over-the-hill”, and that is not always easy to do.

I wouldn’t expect a Ravenswood Merlot to be a good candidate to age almost 30 years let alone 10.

I’d have complete confidence opening a perfectly stored 1993 Ridge Geyserville right now. Certain wines age well but most should be consumed within 5 years IMO.

So the rule of 15 for good Northern Rhones is something I am familiar with. What, pray tell, is the 25 years rule?

As for the OP, I agree that there is this groupthink/waiting for magic/everything must be aged mentality out there. I happen to like wines that are very youthful and very aged, so it’s almost never an issue for me, but if you don’t like older wines then just drink them young. It’s no crime to go against the “all Bedrocks need at least 5 years of age” thinkers.

In general I enjoy CA wines most within a 5-8 year window with the exception of the 2013 vintage. Again, this is a general statement. I don’t have many pre-2010 CA wines in my cellar. I do rather drink on the early side of the range than later.

Very simple. 15 years is too little cellaring time for many Bordeaux, Bourgogne, Barolo, Rhone, Mosel Auslese etc
I hear that 1986 and 88 Bordeaux is almost ready so may we should introduce the 30 years rule champagne.gif

Drink what you like when you think it tastes the best to you, regardless of what others think.

It would be interesting to hear from winemakers on this topic. Do they intentionally make some/all of their wines to age to target a peak time window (recognizing this will be vintage dependent as well) or is it more “they are ready to drink when I release/two years post release and they will continue to age but not necessarily get better (better being subjective) after that”?