Aged wine doesn’t come my way that frequently. Apart from a few cases bought and stored with merchants, what I buy I tend to drink pronto, even when my best intentions are to cellar and imbibe when said vino has hit it’s apogee. Maybe if I actually had a cellar, things would be easier, but with my general lack of will power, and weakness before the charms of Mrs. Vino, I somehow doubt this.
This said, I found in my possession recently two cases of decent plonk that were starting to look old enough to drink. They were wines I had bought with my mother who is now sadly deceased, and which had been stored at hers and then with a friend when I left the UK at the end of 2007 to live in New Zealand for two years. So it would seem the key to storing wine is distance between one and ones wine, 12000 miles probably being the optimum!
The bottom line is that so many of the older wines just didn’t cut the mustard. They certainly showed interesting aged characteristics that you don’t find in younger wines, but many were thin, had lost their fruit and to be frank were passé. We started with the ’98 Larrivet Haut-Brion which although a wine of obvious quality, failed to really fulfill it’s potential and found the same with a 1998 Duhart-Millon. Even the robust oz Shiraz seemed to have given in against the ravages of time, showing heavily oxidative traits.
I’d be foolish to imply there is no point in aging wine, but maybe there is no point in aging wine badly. My Mum’s cellar, a rack under a hi-fi in the coolest room of her house was obviously not an environment free from temperature fluctuations, or vibration for that matter. In addition, all the older wines had lived through the 2003 heatwave stored in these conditions, so who knows what effect this would have had on them. It would be interesting to track down a few of these disappointments from more venerable sources and do the comparison, but next on the list are several cases from the 2000 vintage that are currently stored with berry brothers that are approaching readiness. At eight pounds a case a year, I’ll be hoping these don’t disappoint too!