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January 09, 2012

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Thanks, Evan! This is exactly the kind of thinking I was hoping to provoke--what to make of those wines that seem to have the customary "ingredients" for aging but no actual examples we can point to of their evolving the way the soothsayers predict. It's a particularly interesting question in the case of emerging regions where the wines might remind us of more established regions in certain respects, but which will age based on what their own terroirs dictate regardless of what they can be compared to when they're two years old. I'm always humbled by your positive outlook on things and you're absolutely right to point out that the excitement of getting to watch the future unfold far outweighs the disappointment of realizing that all those predictions we tried to make were bullshit.

Keith - I continue to laud your work because it's so good, and selfishly I'd like more of it, but of course I recognize that it's not so simple. Maybe you don't have the time, or maybe you feel that the law of diminishing returns comes into play.

There is a certain parlor-game feeling to the attempt at guessing a wine's window, not all that different than blind tasting but with much delayed gratification. I enjoy the conversation, but I probably become unjustifiably authoritative at times if the subject is Finger Lakes wines. The bottom line is sample size, and we just don't have a very big one.

And yeah, terroirs can fool us into finding commonalities, only to see the subtle differences change the game over time. We can be easily misled.

Big thumbs up on the vintage guide concept.

The wines have to be made with the thought of aging potential. Sadly, most techniques these days are developed and used to get the wine on the market as easy to drink as possible. Both red and whites. So structure is sorely lacking in most wines that are manipulated to be ready to drink in months (or weeks) not years.

Overall wine ageing is overrated. Too many wines do not live up to expectations. It may be that the expectations were misplaced.

Yet the question of how well or do NY wines age is a good one. We did take a good look at it back on March 19, 2011 in a tasting that Lenn published here on April 6, 2011, I believe. In the article Lenn describes enthusiastically how well 26 Long Island wines showed. They were from 1990 to 2000.( so up to 21 years of age). 10 wineries were included. Of 26 bottles a couple were corked but the rest were surprisingly alive. If possible can some one at the NYCR include a link in Evan's piece to Lenn's article as they complement each other.

My favorite line, and strong belief: "aging is overrated!"

Charles, Todd - overrated?

Depending on what you expect from drinking wine aging may be overrated. One of the reasons why I have become passionate about wine is its capability of transformation over time. Obviously, not all wines are meant to be put away for a decade and if you decide to store such a wine it will certainly not live up to your expectation.

If, however, a wine with sufficient structure to mature ages well over time then the reward can be marvelous. As both Keith in his original article and Evan in his response point out, there is no formula (thank goodness) for the potential of aging- it will always be a gamble whether or not we will be able touch the sublime spot in a wine. But if we do then the very experience of it can't be rated high enough in my opinion.

Uwe,

Fair enough and I do enjoy a wine that has aged well.
What I am alluding to is that there is a lot of misconception about wine and its aging potential, ever since Paul Masson's infamous "We will sell no wine before its time". So many people automatically assume that because a wine is older it is therefore better or that a simple wine will somehow evolve into a great wine if it is older.

As you state there are wines, and these are few, that have the structure to allow them to improve if aged in a proper environment. My observation is that it is common for many people to stretch that to include most wines. You could say that perhaps they need education. If so it is relevant to point out this pitfall and in that sense the idea of aging is overrated.
With this caveat, and going back to the original thread, you may want to browse through the NYCR back to April 6 and read Lenn's review of the tasting of 26 Long Island wines from 1990 through 2000. The overall perception was that they aged very well.
Cheers,

Aging and improving are two different things. Some wines get old without improving necessarily. I feel like Zinfandel can be guilty of that over the long term.

I believe ALL WINES improve a bit with age - whether that is the first three months after bottling to shake off the "bottle shock", or a year to smooth out the edges and better "integrate." The question isn't about aging wines being a good idea or a bad one, rather HOW LONG should a wine be kept to be at its best? Sometimes the answer is a year or two - that would be true of nearly any wine made. The follow up question becomes "did the wine improve and in what way?"

If a wine will not improve in any way after being bottled, it can only be said to be "in decline."

I've had delightful experiences with older Finger Lakes reislings -- older as in 10-12 years -- but I wonder about how and whether the evolving FL style will change how they age. I enjoy my reislings with a few years on them, and circa 2000 Finger Lakes reislings (my favorites, at least) had a strong mineral pinning and a lot of acidity, the first giving a backbone to petrol-type flavor development and the latter keeping the texture from feeling too flabby. Certainly winemakers are still making these "steely" reislings, but I see the region gradually gravitating towards a riper style that, honestly, I feel may not age as prettily. I do look forward to finding out, all the same!

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