Not all wines are made to age. That may sound odd given the undisputed value of wine cellarage and optimal conditions, but the modern trends of making wine on mass to be opened immediately has meant that your average bottle of Blossom Hill or Jacob’s Creek is likely to lose all of its colour, and taste rather foul if it is left for years in a dark room.
Thankfully the wines we are concerned with here at Octavian Vaults are the finer bouquets, mainly Bordeaux and these fares very well when left to age.
Many of our customers ask us just why wines of this nature react so well to the ageing process and this is quite hard to answer succinctly, as it gets quite scientific. So, we thought the prudent plan of action would be to create our latest feature in the form of a dedicated guide to what happens to fine wines when they age in facilities such as ours.
So, aside from being left in perfect conditions, what is wine ageing? Well, there are four main components at play during this process and this is taking place continuously inside your bottle of wine. These are:
This actually means is that these four elements are undergoing a chemical reaction every single second and this will have a significant impact on the flavour of your wine.
The water in your wine as well as these four major compounds connect, bang into each other, break and reconnect again. They do hundreds of thousands of times in the lifespan of your maturing wine. This all makes your wine richer, and provided your Bordeaux is of a sufficient quality this will improve the taste and value of your wine every single day.
As with many aspects of alchemy, this process is still not entirely understood by scientists, but what the manufacturers of great wine do know is that this process results in superb wine. The wine ageing process is one that has been perfected over the centuries through trial and error, which is why we are today left with the sumptuous wine we pay so much for as investors and collectors.
Crucial to this wine ageing process is the combination of tannins and acids. As we have mentioned, not all wines benefit from ageing but the ones that do are the fine red wines rich in these two properties, resulting in the sediment you will often see at the bottom of an expensive bottle or glass of wine.
Tannins are located in the skins and seeds of the grapes used in the winemaking process. These possess a bitter sort of taste and can cause a feeling of dryness in the mouth if consumed in excess. However, the perfect blend and fusion with the perfect level of acidity results in some of the best wines money can buy.
As the wine ageing process develops, the tannins soften. Of course, there are other factors such as changes in colour (reds lose their colour, whereas whites gain it), aromas merge to form a more complex bouquet, and powerful flavours become more savoury as they combine with the other factors at play.
When it comes to white wines, the best candidates for good “agers” are Chenin Blancs, Semillons and Rieslings. The majority of reds are generally suitable due to this aforementioned acidity and high tannin levels.
This explains just why wine ageing is so crucial for some wines and not others. A good rule of thumb is to allow your reds and in particular your Bordeaux, to mature as long as possible in the best conditions. For others, it is worth speaking to an expert or making a judgement call depending on your wine’s origin.
If you have recently invested in some fine wine and are worried about the best way to store this for the good of its development, get in touch with the wine cellarage experts here at Octavian Vaults. You can find more information on the facilities we have available as well as resources on everything from storage conditions to the best places to keep your wine by heading to our dedicated section.