Originally feature in our TWD Magazine (Sign Up here) October and November 2011 issues. The questing a lot of budding wine collectors will ask while tasting a wine is:
“is it cellarable?”
I do bang on a lot about cellaring wine. You’ve all probably heard me talk about it or read how good and important it is. I guess I should equip you with at least the basic knowledge on what makes a wine cellarable (it’s not price!).
For me it is balance.
If all of the wines’ parts; acid, tannin, flavours, sugar (where applicable), alcohol and even savouriness are all in balance and nothing sticks out overtly then it will probably age quite well. In the same vein, if a wine is seriously lacking in any of these qualities then it will probably struggle. The problem with a balanced wine is that is it often easy to overlook. Wines with a strong defining feature will often stick in our brains for that very reason. It is the one flaw in Australia’s excellent show judging circuit… More to come on this topic later.
There are, of course, always exceptions.
Hunter Semillon, which can seem so piercingly acidic young, ages so well and so gracefully it is truly one of the treasures of the world. It builds weight and stuffing in the bottle. Nebbiolo (especially from the regions of Barolo and Barbaresco) is another example. Traditional styles are unbelievably tannic on release; so astringent they can border on unpleasant if you have to taste more than a few. But these tannins (somewhat) meld into the wine so the beauty and elegance comes to the fore.
Is there a quick way to know this?
No, apart from asking someone who has experience in the matter. The only way to learn is to taste wines both young and old and try to see the connection. It takes a lot of practise. Yep, that’s right. Practise drinking wine.
You could get a head start by treating yourself to TWD’s for the cellar selections