Some of the golden state varietal wines– specifically the “far better” vintages from years where climatic conditions were outstanding– age remarkably well or perhaps benefit from growing old. However, it’s perfectly fine to drink California wines without waiting for them to “come around.” This is true for the vast majority of wines from the Golden State.
Generally speaking, California red wines age much better than California whites. The following describes how well the six major California varietal wines hold up with time:
- Cabernet Sauvignon: Cabernet Sauvignon and also Cabernet blends are definitely California’s longest-lived wines, by a wide margin. Even many California Cabernets from the 1940s, 1950s, and 1960s are mostly still great to drink. But of course, not every California Cabernet will age well; only certain wines from the better vintages can stand the test of time.
- Zinfandel: Red Zinfandels definitely age well; many 30-year-old Zinfandels are delicious. But Zinfandel does lose its characteristic berry-like flavor with time and in fact comes to resemble Cabernet Sauvignon. If you like the preference of young Zinfandel, you should most likely drink your Zinfandels within 15 years.
- Red wine: Few America Merlots have actually been about long; before 1985, most winemakers used Merlot mainly as a blending wine. Generally, California Merlots are ready to drink sooner compared to California Cabernets; they’re often softer, fruitier, as well as less tannic than Cabernets. Some believe that the majority of Merlots will certainly not age as long as Cabernets and go to their ideal within the first 12 to 15 years.
- Pinot Noir: Generally speaking, Pinot Noir wines from a fairly low-tannin variety don’t age as long as Cabernet Sauvignons. To be on the safe side, you could prefer to drink California Pinots that are less than 10 years aged to ensure that all the wonderful, fresh aromas and flavors inherent in this variety are still at their peak.
- Chardonnay: A few of the very best California Chardonnays can age and even improve with up to 15 years of aging– the likes of Hanzell, Long Vineyards, Mount Eden, Matanzas Creek, and Stony Hill, for instance. Yet generally speaking, California Chardonnays more than 10 years old can be disappointing. Consequently, you may desire to drink Chardonnays within 10 years of the vintage– with the exception of those couple of Chardonnays that have a proven track record for aging.
- Sauvignon Blanc: California Sauvignon Blancs essentially are best when they’re young and fresh; most will not age well or improve after 5 or 6 years. Of course, there are exceptions: Robert Mondavi’s very limited-production “I-Block” To Kalon Vineyard Fuma Blanc– from a vineyard planted in 1945, the oldest Sauvignon Blanc vineyard in the U.S.– could most likely age for decades. Mayacamas Vineyards likewise makes a long-lived Sauvignon Blanc.