Aging with Grace
The Secret Behind ‘Age-Worthy’ Investment Wines
November 1 2018
November 1 2018
Paradise Estates, an exclusive 21 home community in West Kelowna boasting first class amenities to home owners. A leading amenity highlight includes a 250 bottle, temperature-controlled wine cellar.
A personal wine cellar is the ultimate amenity for wine enthusiasts. However, the idea of stocking and maintaining a space of this magnitude can be daunting and a little bit overwhelming. You want to ensure you have a healthy selection of interesting, diverse everyday drinking wines as well as wines that will age and grow in value over time. Perhaps your cellar is already stocked and you’re looking into investment wines, new suggestions or someone to keep your space interesting and full?
How do you know which wines age well and which ones don’t?
My name is Katie Truscott and I’m a specialized wine cellar consultant and I’m here with some tips to help you keep your wine library both diversified and age-worthy.
When a fine wine is laid on its side to rest, days of old are sealed. Vineyard and cellar secrets settle to the bottom of the bottle, patiently waiting to reveal themselves at the ‘pop’ of the cork.
As time passes, a wine’s life carries on; this is a life formed by tannins, acids, alcohol and sugar. How these components interact and talk to one another greatly determines the life span and ‘peak’ of a wine.
Scientists tell us that humans have a physical ‘peak’ in life – a point in time when our bodies are at their healthiest and our minds are at their sharpest.
The same can be said for wine.
The way I see it, there are two types of wine:
About 5% of the world’s wines are actually destined for a long life in the cellar; beautiful from the beginning but becoming more complex as the years pass.
The remainder of world wines produced today (the other 95%) are created specifically for consumers to drink and enjoy now.
So how does an aspiring collector know what to put away and what to enjoy now?
Start by storing varieties with a good ability to age:
Whites: White Rioja, Chenin Blanc, Trebbiano, Chardonnay, Semillon and Riesling
Reds: Nebbiolo, Aglianico, Cabernet Sauvignon, Tempranillo and Pinot Noir
Sweet: Hungarian Tokaji/Tokay, Riesling, Semillon/Sauvignon Blanc (Sauternes)
Fortified: Vintage Port, Madeira, Sherry and Muscat based fortified wines
Producers with established history and a good track record of vintages, should show better value and capacity to age.=
Wine production and technique also plays a role. How were the grapes handled? What products/agents were used in the production of the wine? What happened to that wine as it was produced? These factors all affect a wine’s ability to age. The more meticulously made the wine, the better the ageing potential.
Pay close attention to good vintage years in different regions of the world, as well as good vintage years for specific producers. A good vintage year means that life was good for the vines and grapes in the vineyard, and production went off without a hitch. Components mentioned above (acid, alcohol, sugar and tannin) will work at their full potential if they had the best start in life.
Acid: As wines age, acidity levels flatten. Therefore, the higher the acid, the better.
Tannin: Tannins provide a wine with structure. A good balance of tannin will break down and smooth the wine with time.
Alcohol: Too much alcohol can be volatile in non-fortified wines and this is a big reason for a wine turning to vinegar. An alcohol level of 13.5% tends to be more balanced overall and should assist with ageing.
Residual Sugar: The longest living wines are sweet wines. The higher the residual sugar, the better the potential to age.
Drinking an aged wine affords us the chance to time travel and re-experience the memories associated with years past. An aged wine can also grant the unique opportunity to consume something created at a time when we never even existed. Collecting and drinking wines with age is a rewarding and fulfilling experience.
With some careful technique, investigation and a bit of gambling, you can build and grow a cellar that not only increases in value but creates a sense of pride and history in your own home. At the end of the day, your collection should represent you. Even if certain bottles you choose don’t follow the rules above, they will still reward you nostalgically later in life.
Cheers for now,
Watch for Katie’s next article on her top Okanagan investment wine picks for your cellar – exclusive to Paradise Estate homeowners.
Katie Truscott, owner of Cellar Selection and Design is an avid, WSET trained wine aficionado, assisting clients in the Okanagan in creating, maintaining and diversifying the cellar of their dreams. From once off cellar fills to monthly re-stocks, contact Katie today to set up a consultation for your space.