ask dr. vinny

Hello there! I'm Dr. Vinifera, or "Vinny" for short. Ask me your toughest wine questions, from the technical aspects of winemaking to the fine points of etiquette. I hope you find my answers educational and even amusing. Looking for a particular answer? Check my archive and my FAQs. You can also follow me on Twitter: @AskDrVinny.


Dear Dr. Vinny,

Aussie wines are very popular, with their fruit-forward style. But do they have aging potential? I'm talking about wines that are in the $30 to $100 range, such as the wines from Elderton, Penfolds, Henry's Drive, etc.

—Jimmy, Placentia, Calif.

Dear Jimmy,

Let's bring in the big guns here. I asked Wine Spectator editor at large and Aussie wine guru Harvey Steiman to answer your question, and here's what he had to say:

"I've had Aussie reds 40 to 50 years old that were alive and kicking, having developed wonderfully mature character. The beauty of Shiraz is that it can be exciting to drink when young, but the best ones, including those you mention, can age for decades. I've also had some older Cabernets that showed tremendous class. Of course, not all the wines are made to age that long. Lower-priced wines are styled to provide easy drinking early, and they usually don't have the concentration or structure to age. As a rule, don't expect any reds that cost less than $25 to improve for long in the cellar.

"And it's not just reds. Australian Rieslings from Clare and Eden valleys can develop tremendous complexity and depth with 10 or 15 years' cellaring. Sémillons, especially those from Hunter Valley, aren't even very interesting to drink until they are 7 to 10 years old, when they develop an oily texture and flavors reminiscent of lanolin and dusky spices."

So there you go.

—Dr. Vinny

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