The main requirement for cellaring wine at home is to find a place where there is a low, constant temperature and darkness most of the time. A quiet place for the wine to rest and age gracefully.
In deciding the wines to cellar, it is helpful to know the growing conditions for the season and the region from which the particular grape variety has been produced. Even with the top labels, there will always be seasonal variations which impact on the final wine from a particular vintage. Wine is not made to a recipe. Each vintage is very much dependent on the quality of the fruit harvested and how that fruit is handled in the winery. The winemaker only gets one shot at it!
Different wines will mature at different rates, depending on individual vintage characteristics and how they were made. Barrel fermentation / maturation plays a part in extending the likely life cycle of a wine. This information will usually be stated on a wine’s label to better assist you in your choice of wine for cellaring. It is important to remember that a high proportion of wines in commercial circulation in New Zealand are ready to drink at the time of purchase. You need to be selective as to which wines you choose to cellar.
Screw cap closures allow you to store your wines either upright or laid down to suit your space arrangements.
White wines with higher levels of natural acidity such as riesling and chenin blanc, evolve more slowly and have the capacity to age really well. On the other hand, pinot gris, which is a naturally low acid grape, does not, generally, have that same ageing potential.
Red wines tend to be longer lived – particularly cabernet sauvignon and syrah, due in part to the higher levels of flavour compounds and tannins found in these wines. Pinot noir tends to have a lower level of tannins and pigments than that of cabernet sauvignon and syrah and not the same ageing potential. After all, pinot noir is a delicate wine of charm and complexity- what the French describe as a ‘ feminine ‘ red.
BARRY JOHNS ( aka ‘ Le Vigneron ‘ )