Troll: Do you prefer young wines, or old wines?

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Troll: Do you prefer young wines, or old wines?

Postby Bob Ross » Mon Aug 28, 2006 2:43 am

Are you a Francophile or an Italianophile? Or a Britophile?

So asks Matt Kramer.

"The French, for example, will almost always choose a young red wine over an older one when ordering from a restaurant wine list. Ditto for Italians."

or

"So where did we get this vision of the wine connoisseur writhing with pleasure as he (it's always a "he") extols the virtues of some aged nectar? England, that's where."

The rest of his story is at
Matt Kramer on the New York Sun

I think this is a paid site, but the issue is well and truly joined.

Regards, Bob
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Re: Troll: Do you prefer young wines, or old wines?

Postby Ian Sutton » Mon Aug 28, 2006 10:14 am

Definitely got a taste for aged wine. I've tasted a few older bottles from poorer vintages and to have enjoyed them says I've got a great tolerance for older wines. For me it's a question of balance, of how much a wine loses vs. what it gains with age. For some, breakeven is typically earlier, which is fine. Theres also a small few where I appreciate the wine much younger (even though it would last well beyond that).

Now old liquers (not cream based ones though!!), that's becoming a revelation to me. This year we've had very old Date Liquer and also Benedictine. They seem to lose the alcohol harshness with age, becoming better balanced and I'll definitely look out for more.

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Re: Troll: Do you prefer young wines, or old wines?

Postby Paul B. » Mon Aug 28, 2006 10:30 am

I've always preferred young reds to older ones - older wines are not only harder to come by, but they may be in good condition or they may have kicked the bucket some time back. I'm also extremely fond of acidity and tannin, and when a young wine has these in abundance, it's never a chore for me to enjoy them. That said, I think there can be a happy balance - a point at which a wine is neither young nor aged, just integrated. But overall, I don't cellar wines long-term, and so my pattern is to drink 'em young.
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Re: Troll: Do you prefer young wines, or old wines?

Postby JoePerry » Mon Aug 28, 2006 10:42 am

Old wines that taste young.
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Re: Troll: Do you prefer young wines, or old wines?

Postby Rahsaan » Mon Aug 28, 2006 11:05 am

Yes.

(Although without being overly glib, how can one not have a soft spot for the sublime magic that only appears with age)
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Re: Troll: Do you prefer young wines, or old wines?

Postby Isaac » Mon Aug 28, 2006 11:07 am

Joe, if they taste young, what's the advantage of their being old? Why not young wines that taste young?
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Re: Troll: Do you prefer young wines, or old wines?

Postby Tim York » Mon Aug 28, 2006 11:09 am

Practically all my inspirational wine experiences have been with well aged wines, some of which i listed in the recent thread on that subject. A small minority of the finest wines (with good corks) seem capable of a sort of celestial transformation after two decades or more of ageing in good cellars; I recall a good article about this in the WS some years ago by the same Matt Kramer.

However for everyday drinking I do appreciate the fresh fruit and acidity of young wines and the firm tannins of some young reds. Many wines, while remaining pleasantly drinkable for many years, lose their youthful charm quite quickly and never acquire an extra dimenion from maturity let alone undergo a celestial transformation.

Of course there are also wines which are delighful in their first year and then close up for, hopefully, a more complex re-opening after a few years if never quite that celestial transformation.

In this matter, as in most others, generalisations are dangerous. So lts finish off with a famous one -

"In wine, the French are infanticides and the English are necrophiles."
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Re: Troll: Do you prefer young wines, or old wines?

Postby Rahsaan » Mon Aug 28, 2006 11:12 am

Joe, if they taste young, what's the advantage of their being old? Why not young wines that taste young?


Because they gain the texture and presence that can only come from age, and speak to a wine more comfortable with itself than during the exuberance of youth. However they still taste young because they retain their vibrancy.

Plus they might fool people in blind tastings.
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Re: Troll: Do you prefer young wines, or old wines?

Postby JoePerry » Mon Aug 28, 2006 11:25 am

Well, I was attempting to be funny, but Rahsaan has the right of it.

Two examples would be the 1947 Bosconia and (good) bottles of 1970 Ygay. The Ygay has the presence of a ten year-old wine, but with the complexity of decades.
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Re: Troll: Do you prefer young wines, or old wines?

Postby David Lole » Mon Aug 28, 2006 11:29 am

Gotta go for the preference of aged wines, particularly if you enjoy the types of French wine I buy and cellar.

Place for both though, depending on grape variety and region - e.g. NZ Sauvignon Blanc - young, Aussie Riesling - young or old - sometimes the bit in the middle is the problem, Leoville Las Cases - old - needs twenty years minimum in the better years, otherwise almost a complete and utter waste of good money. Horses for courses, I reckon.

I don't think we need to wait for an answer on this from Monsieur Audouze! :wink:
Last edited by David Lole on Mon Aug 28, 2006 11:04 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Troll: Do you prefer young wines, or old wines?

Postby Robin Garr » Mon Aug 28, 2006 11:33 am

Bob Ross wrote:"So where did we get this vision of the wine connoisseur writhing with pleasure as he (it's always a "he") extols the virtues of some aged nectar?


Excellent topic in the aftermath of the "Sweet Sixteen" MoCool, Bob.

I'm going to respond a little trollishly: I think that there's not much in the world of wine to surpass the complex, subtle richness of a <b>well-aged, properly mature cellarworthy wine</b>. But at the risk of sounding a little curmudgeonly, I've got to be honest and say that for every great older wine I encounter, there are nine, or maybe even 99, that should have been drunk up years older or discarded. Walnutty, Sherrylike oxidation doesn't excite me, and neither does barnyardy, chicken-coopy brett that has multiplied out of all control. I do think there's an unfortunate tendency among many wine geeks - and I don't deny that I do it myself - to go ga-ga over wines that are essentially spoiled, just because we know they're older great labels.
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Re: Troll: Do you prefer young wines, or old wines?

Postby David Creighton » Mon Aug 28, 2006 11:37 am

young whites; old reds
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Re: Troll: Do you prefer young wines, or old wines?

Postby Robin Garr » Mon Aug 28, 2006 11:48 am

creightond wrote:young whites; old reds


I assume you meant to type "young <i>dry</i> whites," David. :)

Even then, though, I wouldn't toss out a well aged Chateau Musar blanc or many an older White Burg or fine Rhone white ...
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Re: Troll: Do you prefer young wines, or old wines?

Postby Dale Williams » Mon Aug 28, 2006 12:50 pm

Robin Garr wrote:I've got to be honest and say that for every great older wine I encounter, there are nine, or maybe even 99, that should have been drunk up years older or discarded. Walnutty, Sherrylike oxidation doesn't excite me, and neither does barnyardy, chicken-coopy brett that has multiplied out of all control. I do think there's an unfortunate tendency among many wine geeks - and I don't deny that I do it myself - to go ga-ga over wines that are essentially spoiled, just because we know they're older great labels.


Robin, there are plenty of tired and spoiled wines out there, but I'd have to say if you get 9:1 (much less 99:1) you either need to reexamine what you're aging, or take a look at your storage facilities or sources.

I'd say when opening bottles 15-35 years old I run across 10% spoiled/nasty, 25% tired but with interest, 50% nice mature wines, and 15% blow your socks off good. And that's with some of my purchases being recent. When I'm with certain folks with deep long-term cellars, the percentages are much better than that. Plus, of course, it's not like every young wine is tasty, either!

Put me in the camp of preferring mature wines, but generally those that still have good fruit (but have added secondary notes)- I try to save the ones that are all tertiary notes for Jay Miller. :)
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Re: Troll: Do you prefer young wines, or old wines?

Postby David M. Bueker » Mon Aug 28, 2006 12:55 pm

Robin Garr wrote:But at the risk of sounding a little curmudgeonly, I've got to be honest and say that for every great older wine I encounter, there are nine, or maybe even 99, that should have been drunk up years older or discarded.


Curmudgeon!

I love older wines that still show some of the fruit of youth. The '97 Christoffel I had last night is only just approaching my wine age sweet spot.

The biggest issue with most older wines is storage. I've been keeping a spreadsheet with "drink by" dates, and nearly every wine I think is due/past due has been incredibly vibrant and frequently too young. I've probably only run across 5 dead/dying wines from my cellar in the last 3 years. 55 degrees means a lot.
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Re: Troll: Do you prefer young wines, or old wines?

Postby Robin Garr » Mon Aug 28, 2006 1:13 pm

Dale Williams wrote:Robin, there are plenty of tired and spoiled wines out there, but I'd have to say if you get 9:1 (much less 99:1) you either need to reexamine what you're aging, or take a look at your storage facilities or sources.


This is going to sound even more curmudgeonly, Dale, but frankly, I'm not talking about my own wines (I don't cellar much, since I "have" to write about so many young wines), but wines I taste at offlines including MoCool. I can't speak to storage conditions, and I certainly don't want to hurt anyone's feelings; but I've had an awful lot of tired, dank and fruitless wines that were presented as having been stored under pristine conditions.
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Re: Troll: Do you prefer young wines, or old wines?

Postby Robin Garr » Mon Aug 28, 2006 1:15 pm

David M. Bueker wrote:The biggest issue with most older wines is storage. I've been keeping a spreadsheet with "drink by" dates, and nearly every wine I think is due/past due has been incredibly vibrant and frequently too young. I've probably only run across 5 dead/dying wines from my cellar in the last 3 years. 55 degrees means a lot.


I agree on all counts. At the same time, as I just posted to Dale, I've tasted an awful lot of wines that purportedly came from excellent cellar conditions that I found tired and disappointing. Beyond that affiant testifieth not.
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Re: Troll: Do you prefer young wines, or old wines?

Postby Mark Lipton » Mon Aug 28, 2006 1:18 pm

I'll hazard a guess that one's response to this "troll" will depend in large part on how long one's been drinking wine. I know from my own evolving viewpoint that early on I was focused on fruit and preferred younger wines. As I've aged, so too has my preference for wine. I now love the nuances that aging some wine provides, but still there's a limit to what I want to age:

Cabernets/Bdx - yes
1er and GC Burgundy - yes
Rhone - yes
Chenin-based Loire whites - yes
GC Chablis - yes
Grüner Veltliner - maybe
Nebbiolo - yes
Zinfandel - maybe
CA Pinot - no
Beaujolais - mostly no
SB - no
other Chablis - no

Even within those categories I've indicated "yes" for, it's really limited to a small subset of producers in most cases, Bordeaux being the probable exception. As for restaurant wine lists, I rarely get an aged (>5 years beyond release) wine because in the US they are usually prohibitively expensive. I do admit that I was tempted by the 1795 Lafite on the list at Charlie Trotters in '99, but I gave it a pass at $15,000. :wink:

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Re: Troll: Do you prefer young wines, or old wines?

Postby Paul B. » Mon Aug 28, 2006 1:18 pm

I'll also add that on a few occasions, I've tried aged wines (often whites) that others have oohed and ahhed over, but that to me just tasted all caramelly and toffee-like - they were alive, but not what I'd call pleasant. Give me a vibrant, crisp, citrus-skin/raspy white any day.

With reds, it's a bit different. So long as all the components integrate into seamlessness, I'm cool with the wines. Reds that are past it can be an interesting study, but for some reason never seem to be quite as bad IMO as whites that have gone past it.
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Re: Troll: Do you prefer young wines, or old wines?

Postby Ian Sutton » Mon Aug 28, 2006 1:58 pm

Robin Garr wrote:
Bob Ross wrote:"So where did we get this vision of the wine connoisseur writhing with pleasure as he (it's always a "he") extols the virtues of some aged nectar?


Excellent topic in the aftermath of the "Sweet Sixteen" MoCool, Bob.

I'm going to respond a little trollishly: I think that there's not much in the world of wine to surpass the complex, subtle richness of a <b>well-aged, properly mature cellarworthy wine</b>. But at the risk of sounding a little curmudgeonly, I've got to be honest and say that for every great older wine I encounter, there are nine, or maybe even 99, that should have been drunk up years older or discarded. Walnutty, Sherrylike oxidation doesn't excite me, and neither does barnyardy, chicken-coopy brett that has multiplied out of all control. I do think there's an unfortunate tendency among many wine geeks - and I don't deny that I do it myself - to go ga-ga over wines that are essentially spoiled, just because we know they're older great labels.


Robin
I think these comments link in to my (slightly unusual) reference to having a high "tolerance" of older wines. I'm happy to accept a little VA, stink or whatever for the more unique flavours I get from older wines. Without this tolerance, I can see why people would stick with younger wines. If your failure rate is that bad, it sounds like you're a very good taster and able to pick up on a large proportion of wine faults - and in recognising them it harms your enjoyment. Is this a fair assessment?

I've always wondered whether professional reviewers, after a hard day in the office tasting 30-40 overly tannic fruit-sweet young reds, would hanker for something light and mature to savour. Obviously not!

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Re: Troll: Do you prefer young wines, or old wines?

Postby JoePerry » Mon Aug 28, 2006 2:12 pm

I will admit that I like my Riesling on the young side. Once they take on the butterscotch notes (as most do around 15 years) I begin to lose enjoyment. Some great examples seem eternal, but most get a bit soggy in the midsection.

Older Burgundy has been hit or miss with me. There have been soooo many bottles that have not aged as gracefully as the producer and vintage should indicate. As such, I like to drink mine around 13-15 years of age, when there's a much better chance of getting a complete wine. Again, some 40 year-old bottles have been stupendous, but that is not the norm.

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Re: Troll: Do you prefer young wines, or old wines?

Postby Robin Garr » Mon Aug 28, 2006 2:20 pm

Ian Sutton wrote:If your failure rate is that bad, it sounds like you're a very good taster and able to pick up on a large proportion of wine faults - and in recognising them it harms your enjoyment. Is this a fair assessment?


That's the positive spin, Ian. The other view might be that I merely have plebian tastes. :)

I've always wondered whether professional reviewers, after a hard day in the office tasting 30-40 overly tannic fruit-sweet young reds, would hanker for something light and mature to savour. Obviously not!


I can't say about reviewing at that pace, since the Parker/Speculator mass-production approach is not the way I review wines. But speaking as a sometimes wine <i>judge</i>, I can tell you that at the Sydney International Wine Competition in particular, at the end of a typical judging day (which may require tasting a few hundred inky Barossa Shirazes), the judges generally repair <i>en masse</i> to the local pub for a "cleansing ale." Or perhaps several.
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Re: Troll: Do you prefer young wines, or old wines?

Postby Glenn Mackles » Mon Aug 28, 2006 3:02 pm

Although not young in years, I think I am pretty young in wine experience compared to many here. I am one of those who may not know much but I know what I like. The reason I like to age big reds is that simply they are often too rough for my taste when they are too young. I prefer for them to go down really easily so that I can focus on the subtler tastes. And by actual experimentation I have found that a couple of years lying around makes many big reds mellow out. For most whites, I prefer them young and fruity. Sweet whites aren't much of an issue to me because I don't drink hardly any of those.

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Re: Troll: Do you prefer young wines, or old wines?

Postby RichardAtkinson » Mon Aug 28, 2006 3:24 pm

Depends on the situation...

If we're eating, I prefer a young acid driven, somewhat tannic red. If we're just sipping, I'll take a more mature wine. But the former situation is a lot more common.

With whites...I like all of them young. Aged whites just aren't my thing. I prefer young Sauvignon Blancs and Reislings.

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