Hugh has developed strong opinions about aging wine after going through a tasting of aged First Growth Bordeaux. Most of the wines were far over the hill and left him wondering how they would have been at 30 years old rather than 50. His conclusion is that many collectors hold on to their wines far too long and miss the moment of maximum enjoyability.
We want to make the distinction between merely having a wine that "keeps" well as opposed to a wine that actually evolves with time and goes through a series of predictable changes.
He offers this suggestion: if it takes, say, six years for a red wine to reach full maturity, then you would be wise to drink it over the next six years after that. There are quite a few wines in the world that take a lot of time to hit maturity: Bordeaux is the top example, but Barolo, Brunello, Reserve Rioja, and some California Cabernets require time to morph into their mature selves. Prior to that the wines may show too much tannin and unresolved fruit. Also with time, the color and aroma will change for the better, and the flavors will shed a monolithic profile and show far more nuance. (Note, many big Maryland red wines also have this rare characteristic.)
Generally speaking the wines that are best candidates for long term aging in balance to begin with, often medium to medium/heavy weight, and have good but not dominant tannins. And of course you need a good place to store your wine. Putting ten cases of First Growth Bordeaux in a closet will not get you where you want to go.
Note From Al Spoler
I've been waiting for this for a long time. The Maryland Wineries Association is launching a wine club that will make it easy for consumers to find out about Maryland wines and order them online. It's called Maryland Wine Explorer, and it should be up and running in mid-October.
Every month they are going to list up to 20 wines for sale, all produced by our Maryland wineries. You will be able to shop online and place your order. Thanks to new developments, they can now ship it to your door. All proceeds will be to the non-profit Maryland Wineries Association to support their programs.
You can go to the Maryland Wineries Association website for more information: marylandwine.com.