Wine – Drink Now or Keep?
We chatted with Tempus Magazine about wines with ageing potential and why, sometimes, they’re more fun to drink now.
At Bacchus Wines PLDC, we love wine. What’s not to love? Wine brings us joy, entertains friends, improves an evening and turns a dull dinner party into one worth discussing.
As an independent boutique wine merchant, Bacchus Wines PLDC’s range is small but perfectly curated. Our bespoke wine offer is exclusive and sourced from non-mainstream but highly regarded and award-winning vintners who have multi-generational winemaking know-how. We want to know which wines have great ageing potential and which to drink now.
When selecting wine for an event or special occasion, do you visit the cellar or the wine fridge? Are some wines better for drinking now, or should we keep them? We discussed ageing and drinking wine and discovered the best wines with storing potential and why, sometimes, it’s more fun to drink now.
Not all wines are created equal. And not all wines will age for the better. When it comes to ageing potential, some wines do not have the necessary characteristics to develop and improve over time. Acidity is essential for preserving wine and preventing it from oxidising. Wines with low acidity are more likely to deteriorate with age. While alcohol can contribute to the complexity of a wine, too much alcohol can also make a wine unbalanced and difficult to age. Wines with delicate aromas are more likely to lose their fragrance over time. Cuvées from warmer climates tend to have shorter ageing potential than wines from cooler ones because the grapes in warm climates are more likely to be overripe, leading to flabby wines lacking acidity.
Interestingly, most champagnes tend not to age well. Vintage and prestige cuvées could fare well with correct storage in cool, dark conditions, but after ten years, the effervescence can dissipate, and the colour of the champagne will change. So, if you’ve been saving that special bottle from moons ago, don’t lose it; drink it now!
Bacchus Wines’ Top Picks for Drinking Now
L’Équilibriste Bordeaux Rouge boasts the classic structure of Bordeaux wines with great aromas. It is a beautiful deep purple-red colour with intense nuances of blackcurrant, blackberry, blueberry and notes of peony and violet on the nose. On the palate, it is round, with crunchy and juicy fruit. Mineral and floral flavours continue on a subtle and silky tannic framework.
In addition, L’Équilibriste is made without adding sulphites, meaning fewer preservatives in the end product. The ‘tour de force’ is an exceptional wine that critics and the public have highly applauded. The delightful red wine is ideal with roasted vegetables, grilled shellfish, Pâté en Croûte, or other cold meats or charcuterie.
The 2018, 2019 and 2020 vintages are created for drinking young (up to three years) to reveal the abundance of fruit.
Light, elegant and pale-coloured rosés are perfect and more fun to drink now. La Roseraie is bright yet subtle and offers excellent freshness. The rose petal-coloured wine offers floral aromas of hawthorn, lychee and rose.
The award-winning rosé is ideal with canapes which include cream, vegetables, cheese, smoked salmon, and desserts with strawberries.
The 2022 vintage, produced from direct pressing, was created to obtain the most refined and delicate wine possible. It’s loved for its lively, aromatic nuances.
Best Wines with Ageing Potential
So, which wines are best for ageing? Bacchus Wines PLDC enlightened us.
Ageing wine is the process of storing wine over time to allow it to develop and improve in flavour. In some cases, a good wine can become truly exquisite with ageing, but what makes a wine age-worthy?
There are a few key factors that determine whether a wine is age-worthy. As with ‘drink now’ wines, acidity is one of the most important factors for ageing wine. It helps to preserve the wine and prevents it from oxidising. Tannins, too, are rather crucial. Tannins are compounds that give the wine its structure and ‘mouthfeel’. They can be harsh in young wines, but they can also soften over time and become more integrated with the other flavours in the wine. Like acidity, alcohol also helps to preserve wine and contributes to its complexity as it ages. Undoubtedly, some grape varieties are more age-worthy than others. Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Pinot Noir are all known for their ageing potential.
How Long to Age Wine
The time it takes for a wine to age will vary. Generally speaking, red wines tend to age better than white wines. Red wines with high acidity and tannins can age for decades. White wines with high acidity, such as chardonnay, can also age well but typically peak within 5-10 years.
How to Store Wine for Ageing
Wine likes to be stored in a cool, dark place with a consistent temperature. Ideally, the temperature should be between 10 – 15 degrees Celsius. At all costs, you should avoid storing wine in direct sunlight or humid conditions because these factors will affect the entire structure of the wine. Wine fridges are ideal for white and red wine if the cellar is a little full. Wine fridges keep the wine at the optimum temperature and are a welcome addition to any kitchen.
When opening an aged wine, our top tip is to pour it slowly and carefully to avoid aerating it too much. Old wines can be delicate, so it’s best to take your time and savour them. If the ageing process has been successful and is not always guaranteed, you will be rewarded with red wines with nuances of prunes, raisins, dried cherry, tobacco, leather, and cedar. These new hints will develop over time, and you could be in for a treat.
Bacchus Wines’ Top Picks for Ageing
Esprit de Parenchère Bordeaux Supérieur Rouge is a highly concentrated yet elegant wine. It is powerful but with finesse and offers exceptionally long ageing potential. An exceptional cuvée, it embodies the quintessence of Chateau’s terroir. It is produced from the two best estate plots with extremely low yields. The blend is composed predominantly of Cabernet Sauvignon, a grape with the most structure and an excellent aptitude for ageing. It is aged in French oak barrels exclusively for 12 months on fine lees, without racking and micro-oxygenation. Esprit de Parenchère is ideal after eight to fifteen years (it can be kept longer in adequate conditions), so the 2016 and 2018 vintages are ideally drunk between 2024 and 2033.
The flagship wine of Chateau de Parenchère, the Cuvée Raphaël, is an intense, concentrated wine with elegant tannins and a mellow and smooth finish. The wine is elegantly woody but not excessively to leave plenty of room for the fruit.
The Cuvée Raphaël is named after Raphaël Gazaniol, who took over and renovated the Parenchère estate in 1958, and the family still runs it. It is produced from a selection of the most exemplary estate plots from vines that are more than 40 years old.
This wine is aged exclusively in barrels made of oak from the Forest of Tronçais for 12 months on fine lees without racking or exposure to air. Parenchère uses the ‘micro-oxygenation’ technique, sending fine bubbles through the barrels. As a result, the wine’s fruit and elegance are perfectly preserved.
This wine is excellent in its first year of bottling, but ageing will enhance its elegance and complexity after four or more years. It will continue to improve for ten years.
Available in magnums, double magnums or standard cases of six bottles, the vintages range from 2015 to 2019.
Bacchus Wines’ Top Picks – Best of Both Worlds
If you want the best of both worlds and cannot wait, then Bordeaux Supérieur Rouge ticks all the boxes. It’s a traditional, fleshy red wine with a deeply coloured robe. Characterised by a good balance between fruit and tannin, it displays distinct red fruit aromas with a long, sustained finish.
This classic red wine is ideal with rich dishes, including red meat (roasted, barbequed and gilled), offal and cheese-based sauces.
The Supérieur is excellent in its first year of bottling, improving between four and seven and even ten years for the best vintages.
Available in 2014 to 2020 vintages.
Ageing wine can be a rewarding experience. With some knowledge and effort, you can create a collection of wines that will provide you with years of enjoyment. Failing that, chat with the team at Bacchus Wines PLDC. They can assist with the wine fridge or cellar and even source rare wines ‘off menu’. And if you want to try their handpicked range, arrange a private wine tasting.
An edit of this article was published in the Winter 2024 edition of Tempus Magazine.