Aged Wine - The Unique Experiment

I’m attending TEXSOM as part of the Media Team that helps to capture the history of this event.  BTW, it’s been incredible to work with such a talented, passionate team.  One of the first dinners was hosted by Wines of Argentina where they showcased their wines (amazing products).  A discussion was started about aged wines from the area and why we do not see more.  This became a personal moment with me related to age.

My First Bonarda

Years ago, when I worked for Vino 100, they received an allocation of a few cases of Bonarda.  Now, most of you have never heard of this grape.  This originally is called Douce Noir from the Savoy region but was planted in Argentina.  Now, this grape variety has thrived and produces and incredible deep rich plum flavored wine that is nothing like you have had before.  Back then, it was a rare find.  More importantly, this was a bottle that was vintage dated for 5 years prior to us receiving it.  An incredible find to say the least and was being sold at a ridiculous price ($20).

As soon as I saw it, I was super excited and sold it all within a week.  Why?  When I have a rare bottle that people can sample for that price makes it a simple decision.  I failed to mention that it pairs wonderfully with smoked meats (ummm…. TEXAS BBQ).  I grabbed a few bottles for myself but drank it within a year.  People even gave me bottles at parties at my house and we instantly drank it all.  This was an absolutely wonderful wine that was shared with many people.

The Lightbulb Moment

During the dinner a few days ago, one of the vendors told a great story to finish the night.  He happened to be in Detroit visiting a small wine shop.  What did he find?  Five bottles of 13-year-old Bonarda that were priced low.  Of course, he purchased them all.  This is when I leaned back in my chair and realized a few things:

  • I could have gone to Detroit to explore and I may have found the store that had these bottles to purchase myself.
  • I could have kept some of the Bonarda that I had to lay down for an experiment to see how it would age.
  • I used to sell the same Bonarda that he was referring to.
  • Lastly, why do we not age wines for our own enjoyment?

The Elements of Ageing Wine

Why don’t we age more bottles?  The process is simple if you understand what is needed to age a wine.  There are 4 elements involved in ageing:

Now, in order to age a wine for a long time (over 2-3 years), you need three of the above four elements.  If you have these requirements, then you need a place to age.  In order to lay down for long term storage, you need to have these factors:

  • Constant cool temperatures (40 – 60F)
  • 70 % humidity
  • No light
  • No vibration
  • The ability to lay down a bottle on the side to keep the cork moist.

What meets all of these requirements?  A good wine fridge meets all the above.  These do not have to be expensive and there are great sources on the web.  You do not have to go out and spend thousands on a fridge (which seems to be the big misnomer).  I actually saw a 100-bottle brand name wine fridge being sold at Marshall’s last year.  Deals are available so it pays to shop around.  Mine are smaller ones that hold 35 bottles each so I can store sparkling and whites in one and reds (at a slightly higher temperature) in a separate one.

 Little hint – make sure they are able to hold sparkling bottles since they tend to be a bigger footprint.

Are you Ready to Experiment?

The big question left is are you committed to laying a bottle or two down for a time?  I think this is a good question to ask yourself.  For people in the business, we do this all the time as its part of our culture.  I will purchase 2-3 bottles of something and drink one now and place the others ones in the fridge for storage and to sample later.

For my friends not in the business, I would suggest that you consider doing it.  Now, I know that most wine in the market place today is designed to be consumed immediately when you get it home and can get it opened.  Also, it’s marketed and sold to consume like this on purpose.  Trust me, I love the idea of picking up a new bottle to explore.  That’s the reason why we do everything in life for pleasure is to explore. 

However, let’s look at the potential gains:

  • You can try a bottle now and see how it evolves over time,
  • To hold for a special occasion (birth of a child, anniversary) to hold to enjoy later,
  • You have a memento of a trip or an experience to enjoy later,
  • Everything is going up in price so why not get it now as it will mostly likely be more expensive next year,
  • Yes, it’s a bit of ego thing when you can pull a bottle out to share with people as you were saving it for a special occasion, and
  • I just think it’s a fun way to experiment and learn (just remember you have it).

Final Thoughts

Now I know this might not be for everyone.  I can think a few of my friends who will look at me crazy for suggesting this.  However, I think for a small amount of money, this can be an amazing idea for experiences, enjoyment and fun.  A few weeks ago, opening the Magnum bottle for friends that came over was incredible.

Just something to think about, ponder and stew in your minds.  When I get home from TEXSOM, I know that Prime Rib will be smoked for Labor Day weekend.  With that, I will be open a bottle of aged BV Tapestry that I’ve held for a few years.  I’ll post pictures of my smile.

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