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Snooth User: jay ellis

Hello Snooth!

Posted by jay ellis, Jul 23, 2013.

Since exploring the beautiful South Island in NZ and visiting the many beautiful wineries in Otago and Marlborough I now have a keen interest in learniing more about my favourite wines Pinot Noir.

In fact tonight we opened an old bottle of Stoneleigh Pinot Noir 2002 that we found in an old cupboard and thought we might be opening a bottle of vinegar but to our suprise  it is a nice drop ... 

So my  question  is if a wine bottle says 'at its best after 6 years' would you expect leaving for longer to deteriorate??

I'm interested in learning anything about pinot noir as it has become a bit of an expensive hobby ..




Reply by EMark, Jul 23, 2013.

Welcome to the Snooth Forum, Jay.  I am not a Pinot Noir guy.  So, it will be best if you wait for others to chime in, there.

I do have an opinion on you first question, however.  We all presume that allowing many red wines to age will increase our enjoyment.  We also presume that the aging process does not cause improvement forever.  "Peak" is often used to describe the point where the aging process stops improving the wine, and from there on it will, as you say, deteriorate.  (Generally, though, this deterioration is not precipitous.  So, most wines may by good or even excellent long after they peak.)  We love to talk about "drinking windows" where experts or the makers predict the peak will occur.  Normally, these drinking windows are expressed as a range--e.g., 5 to 7 years.  More commonly, these days, you'll see a range of years, e.g., 2015 to 2019.  The way that I would interpret "best after 6 years" is that the drinking window will open at 6 years.  So, does it "peak" at  2,192 days?  74 months?  7 years? 10 years?  Who knows?,

Here is my opinion.  At the time of (in your case) labeling the bottle nobody can predict with absolute certainty when the optimal drinking period will be.  On the flip side it is difficult to argue with a statement such as "best after 6 years."  There is a reasonble liklihood that it is true, and, if someone tries it after 6 years and opines that it peaked years ago, then there are several easy explanations for the discrepancy of the observation:

  • Well, obviously, the wine was stored improperly.
  • You must have had a bad bottle.  Possibly, caused by an inferior closure.
  • We have different palates.

Here is something that I am curious about in your story.  What kind of closure was on your bottle?  The New Zealand wine industry has fully embraced screwcap closures, although, I don't know if this was the case when your wine was bottled.  The consensus that I have read--and stay tuned for updates, because this can change in a moment's notice--is that wines with screwcaps age "slower" than wines with corks.  I don't know if this was the belief when your vintage 2002 wine was bottled, and, so, if your bottle had a screwcap, it is not clear that the slower aging characteristic was taken into account.

I apologize for my pontification, Jay.  Here is the important thing:  you enjoyed your bottle of wine.  That is fantastic.  Also, we Snooth readers very much appreciate your report.  The reason all of us are here is to increase our knowledge in order to increase our enjoyment.  The "increase in knowledge" is a means, not an end.  The end is "enjoyment."

I very much look forward to reading about more of your wine adventures, even the Pinot Noir ones. ;-)

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