by Paolo Repetto / 17 December 2015
Really, it's acceptable call these wines just
Great wines get better in the course of time. I agree, but this statement lacks something. To make a great wine ameliorate, it must be kept in a perfect state: constant temperature (deserably at 14 to 15 degrees), around 70% humidity rate (good above too, but it could damage the label), no light, silence, no vibrations.
Perfect cellars are very rare to find. I receive everyday offers from collectors or professionals wanting to sell their collection; unfortunately in most cases (70%) I am forced to quit. It is sad to think of enthusiast people investing big money without taking care of wine conditions once bought.
Storing conditions are crucial and can let a wine evolve outstandigly, even decades after it has been bottled, tourning out to be younger than it is. Otherwise, bad storing conditions can make a great wine seem older, even flawed, a few years after having been released.
I have ever asked myself how should be named those wines that prove to be pleasant, balanced, showing further aging potential. Words such as ‘old’ or ‘aged’ carry a negative mark. By the way, wines properly stored in an ultimate cellar may donate magic emotions after decades.
If the wine I am going to buy was no longer in a good shape? How can I be sure to take a right choice? While opening a 30-35-year old bottle you always take a risk. Each bottle has its own evolution. To be sure to minimize that risk, wines should be bought straightly from the producer or a trader with rewarded professionalism and track record.
After all, I always rely on a few simple rules.
- Vintage. Obviously, great vintages should be preferred, proving their value and endurance in the course of time. However, I have often stumbled on some among the so-called ‘lesser’ vintages, that were every bit as good as the most praised, even after fifty years.
- Seal. It is the first thing I take care of. If I notice a leakage or a cork not properly inserted in its place, I cast away this bottle.
- Label. Some people like distressed labels on vintage bottles, some want a perfect one (first of all the Chinese). It is clear that a damaged label does not influence the wine inside, but can give some key informations. If moldy, it may come from a too humid cellar; if detatched, it may come from a too dry one. If ripped, I have not already found a suited insult...
- Level. To make it easier, wine level must be as close as that after filling, though a slightly lower one is allowed, considering the wine’s age. Thus, a mid-shoulder-filled 25-year-old bottle is not okay.
- Colour. When analyzing some quite aged bottles, it is good to equip yourself with a light source enabling you to check the wine inside (even though many 40/50-year-old bottles are made of dark glass). Wine must keep itself in a certain colour shade, even after several decades. At this point personal expertise comes into play. Had a wine made of Nebbiolo variety a certain colour, one from Sangiovese would be different.
- Sediment. It does not influence wine’s quality. It is commonplace to see it.
But after all, which is the most captivating word to depict these wines?
Founder of Vinifera, since 2005 he works in the international business of fine wines.
In 2017 he founded Italian Wine Asset, the first Italian specialised entity for consulting on buying and selling Vineyards and Wineries.