To me, there are two sides to the question. The first is "Is the wine
enjoyable to drink now?" and is fairly self-evident to answer. The
second is "Will the wine improve with age?" To me, that question hinges
on several issues:
1. Is the wine structured for aging? Does it have noticeable tannin?
Does it have enough acidity to age?
2. Is there enough fruit to survive aging? With very tannic young
wines, that question can be harder to judge than one might think, as the
fruit is often masked by the astringency of the tannins. I find that it
requires a lot of concentration to get a good feeling for the depth of
fruit, usually most evident in the finish.
3. Is the wine in balance? Even some wines with tannins, fruit and
acidity won't benefit from aging because they aren't balanced. In some
cases, that might be because the wine has sharp, spiky acidity that will
outlast the fruit; in other cases, it could have tannins that are so
green and harsh that the wine will be dead before they fully soften;
more often, the wine might have a such huge whack of new oak that the
fruit will be long gone by the time the oak is fully integrated.
When I taste a young wine, I look for the structural elements and fruit
and try to judge whether they are in balance. If so, the wine will
usually benefit from age. Figuring out how long to age it is another
can of worms that I have no intention of opening.
The aging capability of most wines of a certain type is well known.
Most big reds will hold for several years, and exceptiona ones for
several decades. Typically, most red wines are ready to drink when
placed on the market.
On Sat, 16 Jun 2007 14:03:23 -0400, Mark Lipton
Good answer, assuming that Jose was asking about judging based on
tasting the wine. But I wasn't sure whether he meant that, or meant
judging when buying the bottle.
Please Reply to the Newsgroup
Cheater!! ;-) Of course, especially for someone like you with such a
broad experiece of wine, Dale. Neophytes such as myself often have to
rely on first impressions instead ;-) One caution, which you know full
well, is that a wine's track record in previous vintages has to be
considered in light of the year is question (i.e., it's not a good idea
to posit the future of '97s from the Medoc on the basis of how the '90s
have evolved, or vice versa) Preaching to the choir, I know...
Mark- A very thoughtful and well put answer. I think you nailed it!
Fruit bombs tend to be problematic for me since they sometimes will
have so much fruit that it masks the tannins and acidity. I also find
it easier to judge reds than whites.