10 year old bilberry wine

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plato25

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Hi all

A newbie on year. My first post is a massive compliment to CJJ Berry.

It concerns a batch of Bilberry wine I made in 1971, yes 1971. A 30 bottle batch from dried bilberries. .

I went to work aboard about 6 months later and left behind about 12 bottles

At the time I was a regular visitor to my local off licence where I always bought recommended red French chateaux bottled wines. I see some of those same wines selling now for around £120-£150 a bottle.

In 1982 my brother came to stay for a few days. He brought with him a couple of bottles of my bilberry wine.

We opened this 11 year old wine and we enjoyed it over dinner. It was the best wine I have ever drunk. My brother agreed. It was superb - in the current £150 class. I was astonished

Has anyone else managed to keep a home made wine for 10+ years. If so what was it like? It’s quite difficult to keep for 10 years!

My massive compliments to CJJ Berry for getting me interested in winemaking. I have just returned to winemaking in the last 6 months starting with (now expensive) bilberry wine made from dried bilberries. Patience is going to be needed I think!
 

BigDaveK

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Wow!
I've only been at this for a little over a year so I certainly don't have anything that old. But I'm having great fun!
I don't think CJJ Berry is as well known here as he is in the UK. I believe I have 3 of his books and find them totally enjoyable.
I recently made a wine with red cabbage, not a common ingredient.😄 It started as something vile and horrible with a nice color but - with time - has actually become delightful! Experiencing amazing transformations afforded by time (and patience) makes the journey even more enjoyable.
 

ChuckD

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Welcome to WMT. I’m too new at this to have wines aged that long. I do have some wines in bulk for more than a year now and I’m making more so the supply is building.
 

TechAdmin

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Welcome to the forum and welcome back to winemaking!
 

plato25

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Welcome to WMT. I’m too new at this to have wines aged that long. I do have some wines in bulk for more than a year now and I’m making more so the supply is building.
Thx. Good to be starting wine making again. The bilberry wine only lasted because I was working abroad for a few years.

What surprised most was that it was even drinkable let alone outstanding after ten years. Nothing special was done when making it. I just followed CJJB’s bulk bilberry recipe.
 

Vinobeau

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My oldest is a 1976 Beaujolais. It was and still is terrible! It was the first wine to age in my brand new barrel. Thru the years, I've used a bottle now and then for cooking and lately I've used a bottle along with a bottle of $3 Epic Vodka for my Nocino. Subsequent wines that were in the barrel were fine.
 

plato25

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My oldest is a 1976 Beaujolais. It was and still is terrible! It was the first wine to age in my brand new barrel. Thru the years, I've used a bottle now and then for cooking and lately I've used a bottle along with a bottle of $3 Epic Vodka for my Nocino. Subsequent wines that were in the barrel were fine.
So it looks as if you 2nd barrel onwards will be OK, maybe even great with patience!

I think my 10 year bilberry was luck. I’m keen to replicate it but not hopeful. I wonder if a longer lasting wine requires a certain minimum level of alcohol when made?
 
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I think my 10 year bilberry was luck. I’m keen to replicate it but not hopeful. I wonder if a longer lasting wine requires a certain minimum level of alcohol when made?
ABV, tannin, acid, and sugar all help in longevity. The whites that have survived for decades typically have high acid and high sugar. Optimal storage conditions are also a major factor.
 

plato25

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Thx. I guess I was really lucky as all I did was follow CJJB’s bilberry wine in bulk from dried bilberries. That it turned out a truly outstanding wine 10/11 years later was luck.

When it was made the expectation was it would be drunk within a year or so. I do vaguely remember reading somewhere that 14% ABV was minimum for any wine made with longevity in mind

Are those whites you mentioned home made? If so do you have any info on ABV etc?
 
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Are those whites you mentioned home made? If so do you have any info on ABV etc?
I have read several articles regarding longevity in whites -- the one that stands out in my memory was German Riesling from the 1700's (Wine Spectator, circa 1990), with really high acid and sugar. While not impossible, I'd be surprised to get a decade out of a homemade white.

Reds? Yeah, getting a decade is very possible. Use good quality fruit, ABV 14%+, lots of tannin, TA a bit higher than typical for reds -- hit it with a good dose of K-meta at bottling time and store at 50-55 F (10-13 C) in a dark area. It's entirely possible to get that longevity from a kit.

At the same time, longevity can be guessed at, but is not guaranteed. Make enough that you can test a bottle every 6 to 12 months, watching for decline. If you find it declining, use it up.

I've read that wines decline for as long as they improve, so a wine that starts declining at 5 yo should be good until 10 years. However, keep in mind that "drinkable" and "good" are not the same thing, so the last couple of years might be a real disappointment.
 

plato25

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Thx. Very useful points. I’ll keep them in mind. Making a wine with love out in mind from the start. Setting aside about 1/3 of bottles and consuming the rest over time.

As you say if it seems to be deteriorating then drink it up and start again

Thx again for your thoughts on this
 

Rice_Guy

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Welcome to WMT.
Setting aside about 1/3 of bottles and consuming the rest over time. . . .As you say if it seems to be deteriorating then drink it up
The one third rule is partly how tannic/ astringent/ acidic was the wine on year one? Some crops have high levels of polyphenols so they survive time. ,,,, I have heard that choke cherry is better on year ten than year one ,, and that black caps go from good tasting > astringent (polyphenols complexing) > good tasting again (complexes are large enough to drop out). ,,, and that some apple varieties are vintage (tannic) apples ,,, etc
 

plato25

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Looked good. Fond memories. Just finished a trial gallon. On bottling it tastes promising so putting it out of sight for a few months. In the meantime planning to do 30 bottles soon with idea of laying down about 10/12 bottles for a few years. If I can resist it that long.
 

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