Do Pinot Noirs and Chardonnays from Burgundy improve with age?

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Dear Dr. Vinny,

It struck me that the Burgundy vintage charts only have "Drink or hold" and "Drink" listed for the drink windows, but never "Hold," whereas the Bordeaux and Piedmont vintage ratings often make that suggestion. Many great Burgundies should rest for six to 10 years to reach their potential. What gives?

—Michael, from the Internet

Dear Michael,

Wine Spectator’s vintage charts offer a very broad look at a particular category of wine in a particular year, updated annually to let you know if we think they need more time or if they’re ready to drink. (For more specific drink recommendations, every wine that we review comes with its own recommended drink window.)

We’re notoriously conservative with our hold recommendations—we understand that aged wine is an acquired taste and that not everyone has optimal cellar conditions. As always, personal preference should be your guide.

It sounds like your interests align with those of our official taster for the wines of Burgundy and Piedmont, senior editor Bruce Sanderson, so I asked him for his take. “I'm sure there are vintages in the past that were 'Hold' in the beginning (2005, 2010 or 2013),” recalls Sanderson. He adds that you’re correct that a grand cru from the Côte de Nuits needs time to reach its peak. He then bragged about enjoying a 14-year-old Beaune Clos des Mouches the other night. I’d brag if I drank that too.

“But red Burgundy, with its lighter tannins, often drinks well for a year or two after release before shutting down for a period (2006, 2009, 2015 and 2017 come to mind),” he adds.

—Dr. Vinny

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