On Aging California Wine

With a small collection of wine the logical solution is to drink up! But if the intent to collect and preserve wine, a clear distinction is made between those bottles that are drinkable today and those that should be cellared to enhance the wines complexity. But how do you know which wines to cellar and which ones to drink say within a couple of years? In learning more about wine, I came to understand that most wine, California wine that is, is meant to be drunk right away: Very different from storing a bottle away for 15 years. While those bottles of white wine like Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc are great for tomorrow’s dinner party; preserve them for a dinner party in 2015, and you’ll wind up pouring money down the drain. However, it is possible to find white wines that can be cellared for a decade or so, such as white Burgundy, Chardonnay and some German Rieslings but exactly which wines and for how long is a question not easily answered.

What about Cabernet Sauvignon?

Here’s the juxtaposition: red wine like a Cabernet, may taste better years down the road than it does today. Again, how well a wine ages depends on multiple factors such as tannins, quality of production and the method of storage. The constancy of temperature is very important, more than the actual temperature itself, as extreme fluctuations in temperature will destroy the wine. If the plan is to create a very serious wine collection then a very serious wine cellar is a must to be able to control temperature, humidity and light. Thankfully it is no longer necessary to dig a huge cave under your house as there are plenty of fantastic wine refrigerators on the market that hold hundreds of bottles.

Keep in mind that many California wines are made to drink young although most will age no problem for 3 – 5 years, and more, depending on the varietal. If you decide to store several cases of a favorite vintage, be sure to test a bottle every 6 months to a year so a not to pass by the peak of perfection. Now the fun part, doing the research. You’ll need to start reading industry magazines and tasting to find wines that have potential to age well. Take for example a few notable California wines from the Napa Valley made from either 100% Cabernet grape, or a varietal, with the predominant grape being Cabernet. Consider Rubicon Estate 2002. This bottle contains 90% Cabernet Sauvignon with small percentages of Cab Franc, Merlot and Petite Verdot. According to Wine Spectator Magazine, this wine "has the tannic elegance and balance that cellaring will be no problem at all over 20 years." But if you fall into the category of an impatient collector, try a bottle of wine such as the Shafer 2002 Hillside Select Cabernet Sauvignon, which can develop nicely in just under 15 years.

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About The Author, Nicole Martins
Nicole Martins is a senior editor at http://CellarYourWine.com. Read more about wine storage by visiting this site at: http://www.cellaryourwine.com