Cellar my wine! Why, you must be crazy!!
I want it now! Today's society favours the drink-now approach, with an estimated 85% of wine purchases being consumed within 24 hours. Although winemakers in general have tweaked their winemaking to meet this demand, here at Mills Reef Winery we are also making superb wines that go to another level when cellared correctly.
WHICH WINES SHOULD I CELLAR
When looking at the Mills Reef portfolio of red wines, Elspeth Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Syrah cellar beautifully. With regard to whites, both Reserve Chardonnay and Elspeth Chardonnay cellar well though for a shorter time than the reds. From the very beginning, these wines display good balance between fruit intensity, structural tannin integrity, and an ample acid backbone, all in harmony with the alcohol concentration. Vintage plays a significant role, as these parameters can change immensely from season to season.
WHICH WINES SHOULD I NOT CELLAR?
- Some white wines deliciously express abundant fruit and varietal character, and this is their strength. Cellaring would dampen their vibrant fruitiness and the opportunity to enjoy them at their best would be lost.
- Entry-level reds, if cellared, generally lose their fruit character earlier, becoming weedy and less interesting.
All wine gets better and better the longer I cellar it, doesn't it? Absolutely not, this is an urban myth, and a trap you shouldn't fall into. Some wines simply do not have the necessary "balance" to carry it through a lengthy aging process.
WHY SHOULD I CELLAR MY WINES
When a good wine is allowed to age under the correct conditions, and when it finally becomes time to enjoy your wine, the experience can be truly magnificent; the fruit, tannins and acidity integrate into a wonderful fusion that is altogether complex, soft, supple, and often quite ethereal.
IDEALLY, HOW SHOULD I STORE MY WINES?
What physical factors are important in cellaring wine?
- First and foremost, consider the temperature at which the wine is kept. Constancy is crucial here, with the optimum range being 12-13 oC, which allows important chemical changes to occur while maintaining the integrity of the wine. Seasonal variations are okay as these are gradual, but try to avoid quick fluctuations. Pay particular attention to wines with cork closures as the cork can deteriorate with swings in temperature, thus spoiling the wine.
- Humidity is also important for cork closure, as this helps to keep the cork moist, but not so important for screwcapped wines.
- Light can be detrimental to the wine, so ensure the wine is stored in a constantly dark place.
Lie cork closed wines down, which ensures that the wine is in constant contact with the cork thus minimising drying of the cork. Screwcap wines may be stored in a vertical position.
HOW LONG DO YOU RECOMMEND THAT I CELLAR MY MILLS REEF WINES
Now this is where things can get a little tricky. We all have different palate and aroma preferences. For instance, a 2010 Elspeth Syrah can be enjoyed three years after vintage for its abundant fruit, tannin, structure and length. In five years time, those qualities can still be enjoyed but in different way as the components will not be quite as individually obvious, but will have melded into harmony with each other. Looking even further, in ten years a wine of this quality will just go to another level. Just remember, that different palates will enjoy the wine at different stages, and others will be intrigued and enjoy the wine as it gracefully ages through each stage. You will get to know where your palate sits.
We purposely keep back library stock of each vintage to study the ageing curves, and nobody knows yet the full experience out to 30-40 years and beyond for Gimblett Gravel reds. What we're finding is that at around 10 years these reds are hitting their second peak, and showing magnificently. Customer feedback of those who have cellars confirms this view. We are excited to follow the Gimblett Gravel reds as they journey through 10, 20, 30 and even 40 year mark.
So over the years, we've got to know our wines pretty well, and can give you some help. The exciting part of cellaring wines is that you can put away multiple bottles of each wine and follow its progress. As a guide, we feel that our wines are drinking at their best as indicated below, and may be enjoyed much later by some consumers.
MILLS REEF ESTATE WINES
Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Gris, Chardonnay on release to 2 years
Merlot Cabernet on release to 2 years
Sauvignon Blanc on release to 2 years
Pinot Gris on release to 2 years
Chardonnay 2 - 4 years
Pinot Noir on release to 3 years
Merlot 1 - 4 years
Merlot Malbec 1 - 4 years
Syrah 1 - 4 years
Chardonnay 2 - 5 years
All reds 2 - 10 years
Vintage Port 4 - 10 years