wine windows - when do they shut down, when do they open again?

The recent thread on critics’ drinking windows sparked a related question that I have been struggling with. How to know when a wine is shut down/closed, and when it might be open again.

I’ve had a few disappointing experiences with wines that seemed to be clearly shut down. 2006 Altesino BdM (tried 3 bottles from different sources) is one example. Another example was a 2004 G Rinaldi Brunate. In both of these examples, I had tried the wines previously (about 2 years prior), and the experience was very different - i.e. not shut down.

What confounds me is that I see recent CT reviews for both of the examples noted above that don’t indicate that these wines are shut down. The G Rinaldi could be a fluke since I tried just one bottle, but I can’t reconcile the CT Altesino reviews with my consistent experiences.

Seems to be a particular problem for Burgundies and Baroli. I am just getting acquainted with Burgundy in particular, and struggling to figure all this out. I’ve enjoyed young Burgundies, and now I want to see what the other side is like (aged, post-shut-down). I’ve also enjoyed young Baroli, and been completely blown away by some older ones.

Beyond looking at specific wines, is there any resource for knowing when regions+vintages are generally in these shut-down windows?

I have had many Altesino’s and have never really been impressed, then I realized that I was trying each of the vintages in a ‘closed’ state (about 3-5 years after the vintage). For me that means a wine that’s ‘black’, showing nothing, no flavor, no fruit, nothing. I then tried one in the sweet spot, so what I have experienced is try one on release and then don’t touch one for at least 10 years.
I think it’s important to pay attention to vintage as well, structured vintages probably are going to be shut down from the start, riper vintages are going to probably be more open or ‘close down’ for a shorter period of time.

It really depends on the wine and the vintage, as mentioned above. But in addition, all wines don’t really “shut down” and often people say or write that when the wine just doesn’t live up to their expectations. Doesn’t mean there’s anything happening with the wine, it’s just that if it’s a 93 point wine and it isn’t great, people assume it’s shut down. If indeed it is, a good decant can sometimes help.

As Greg says, it depends on the wine and the vintage. In general, I think it’s fair to say that if a wine is “serious” and made to age well, then you have to expect it to shut down hard if the vintage it is from is a good one, though some vintages may be more forward in style and the wines may be more accessible. You just have to watch the tasting notes, and form a mental picture of the styles of recent vintages that you might be dealing with. I know Parker’s Vintage Chart is accessible for free on his web site ( and each vintage has a letter as well as a numeric score, to indicate style. But I haven’t been buying wines for some years now (my cellar is full!) so I don’t know how accurate his style letters are…

Btw, with Burgs, it really takes the serious ones a long time to show some real age. Like 20-25 years or more! Of course it depends on the vintage too. But when I started drinking Burgundy, one could experience real age and delicate nuance and complexity when the wines were 15 years old, like the 69s and '71s. But starting about the '88 vintage, the winemakers in general seemed to start paying more attention to pre-bottling exposure to oxygen, less barrel aging maybe, as the wines became more purple in the bottle and they stay that way for a long time! I think that is at least one of the reasons for the subtle change in style. Now the wines may seem “better” overall, certainly “fresher” and more youthful, but it is frustrating to someone like me who really likes to find tired, old, declining nuances of delicate complexity! :slight_smile:

I would say that all red burgundies will shut down, but it can be very early or very late. Experience gives one a better chance of an accurate guess but only opening the bottle will reveal the answer one wants.

I can speak to Sauternes, though I don’t know if you drink enough of them to care. Most shut down between about age 5-10, from what I’ve seen. Some, like rieussec, aren’t approachable young and are really shutdown from age 2-12. Yquem is later, maybe 3-15, and also doesn’t always show that well young. Some vintages, like 2003, shut down less than others.

+1. Some subset of wines do shut down to some degree, but I think a lot of the time, people use “shut down” and “bottle variation” as polite ways to wrap up a discussion between one person who really likes a wine and another was disappointed in it.

That’s a very nice way to put it. Now if I could only get some people to shut down . . .

Jason - thanks for the note on Altesino.
Ashish - the insight on Sauternes is indeed appreciated.

And thanks to all.

Seems like the situation is more or less what I suspected - it all depends… I suppose that’s part of what makes this an interesting and expensive hobby.