Five aged red wines to try for autumn 2022

Recently, over lunch at Restaurant Trivet in London, I had the opportunity to taste a 1962 Penfolds Kalimna Shiraz – by no means the most expensive wine in the famous Australian producer’s range, but certainly one of the oldest (it was first produced in 1959). And although his fruit had faded, he still showed himself amazingly well.

So how did these flavors last so long in this particular wine? In order to age, wines need both concentration and structure – something that grape varieties like Shiraz and Cabernet Sauvignon possess in the highest degree. When great wines are young, they can sometimes be almost unbalanced with pumped fruit and overly intrusive tannins. But as they age, the oak and fruit blend together to create the smooth, velvety flavor and texture that connoisseurs love so much.

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So why don’t we all stash our bottles? The truth is, not everyone these days likes the more fragile flavors of older wines, which can taste like dried fruit—lacking the rich berry character we’re used to. However, they can and should come alive with the right kind of food, particularly the roasts, pot roasts and stews that we eat at this time of year when the weather turns colder.

Another reason is that aged wines tend to be more expensive, which seems reasonable considering the producer had to store them longer. A Rioja Gran Reserva, for example, has to mature for five years before it is put on the market, including at least two years in oak barrels. Compare this to a Reserva, which can be released after three years, only one of which needs to be in oak. For aged wine, the producer must source better quality grapes from older vines with lower yields and give them time in expensive casks. That costs everything.

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One way to mitigate these costs when buying wines long-term, to drink at least five years from now, is to buy them en primeur — effectively making a down payment on a vintage before it’s even bottled, and then to pay taxes and duties upon delivery of the wine.

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If it’s mid-term – and many young reds benefit from aging for a few years instead of a decade – store them at home in a cool room (not in a garage or outdoor shed, both of which can fluctuate in temperature). . In terms of choice, Shiraz, Cabernet and blends of both are the most obvious candidates, but Malbec, Zinfandel and GSM (Grenache, Syrah and Mourvèdre) blends also have staying power.

Now, if you’re looking for a mature wine to drink, look for lesser-known varieties like Madiran, made in Gascony from the Tannat grape, Bandol from south-west France, and reds from central and southern Italy. And often you can get better specimens from an independent wine merchant than from a supermarket.