Bottle-Aged Wines

When wines are young, their primary flavors are the most prominent, think freshly cut grass in Sauvignon Blanc, red plum in Merlot, ripe apricot in Viognier or tart citrus in Riesling. You can sometimes find secondary notes from the winemaking techniques, like the vanilla flavor of oak or buttery characteristics from malolactic fermentation. But when wines age, we start talking about tertiary notes, or flavors that come from development in bottle. This often means young, bold notions of fresh fruit become gradually more subdued and reminiscent of dried fruit. Other flavors, previously hidden by those bold primary notes, come forward, like honey, herbal notes, mushrooms, truffles, stone and earth. Any well-made wine can improve with a few years of ageing, it’s all about balance of the acidity, alcohol and tannins present (except wines that are designed to be drunk young for their primary flavors, think light fruity rosés or Beaujolais nouveau). Many wineries also produce a top cuvée that’s heavily extracted with high levels of tannins that will age for decades while these elements fall into balance. I find a certain joy in opening an aged bottle. There’s usually more to the wine than just what’s on the label. Here, I’ve listed wines with at least 5 years ageing.

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