Misgivings About Aging...

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vinny

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I have made some fun wines and lots of kits. I find the country wines are enjoyable, but never really dazzle me. As they age they tend to go from having a prominent ingredient note to blending into a more rounded and pleasant wine. The bulk are 'white' tomatoes, carrot, dandelion etc. and the mellowing tends to blend into a nicer wine.

I have aimed for some BIG reds. High ABV, lots of oak. They blend out nicely around the 6 month mark. I split half to bottles and the rest to a 3 gallon carboy. I have been waiting to see the magic of aging and I am sad to say that a couple of the big ones fall flat for me now that they are aging out. I'm guessing around 18 months.

I did a global passport Montepulciano blend. It was bold. It had a big french oak start. Creamy, vanilla. I gave my Dad a sip... mmmm chocolate? No vanilla... but it was that prominent. As the oak mellowed the grapes rose up strong with fruit and berry and a strong tart tannic finish. The same with the Pinot noir. High ABV made me think I had pushed it too far after bottling, but the whole presence just seems diminished now that it has aged. The Montepulciano has little left in the way of vanilla, and the flavors that once sang in my mouth have blended to an almost syrupy like candy tang that I can't place to my youth, but it is absolutely dry.

I accidentally bottled a Cab Zin high end kit at 5 months, I tasted it, forgot what it was and said, mmm, that's good. It's ready to bottle. I don't regret it because it has the same vanilla oak on the front end. I'm enjoying it while I can!

I have a stash of bottles so I can taste all the way through the aging process and I intend to push out to 4-5 years with some so I can educate myself. I am just wondering if there is any predictability to aging? Do I just prefer the burst of younger wines? Or are there different stages and the Montepulciano could very well become something outstanding again as it shifts through this stage?

I am assuming there is no predictablity, but I am shocked that the mellowing would be so profound as to disappoint rather than excite me. I had to ask!
 
When I read the title of your post, my first thought was, "You have 2 choices, aging or dying. I prefer to age, regardless of how little fun some things are."

Then I realized you were talking about wine.

I have a stash of bottles so I can taste all the way through the aging process and I intend to push out to 4-5 years with some so I can educate myself. I am just wondering if there is any predictability to aging? Do I just prefer the burst of younger wines? Or are there different stages and the Montepulciano could very well become something outstanding again as it shifts through this stage?
There is some predictability to wine aging, but for most of us it's an imperfect guess. I admit that some of my predictions are spot on ... and some miss by a mile. Heavy reds are easier as the target is normally farther out.

I view kits as the center of a bell curve.

Generally speaking, grape wines follow a bell curve:

bell curve.png

Grape wines follow the full bell curve, some of low quality with a short lifespan, while some are high quality with a long lifespan. [Yes, this is a simplification.]

Most wines are some where in the middle and we as winemakers strive to be on the right side of the curve.

Kit wines don't exist in the full range of the bell curve. They exist in the middle -- typically you're not going to produce a bad wine, but you're equally unlikely to produce a great wine. It's a trade off, and generally speaking a good trade-off.

You may be experiencing being on the upper edge of kit wine quality, and finding yourself dissatisfied. Or it may be that the kits you've purchased are not on the top edge as you are learning to prefer.

I'm not prejudiced against kits -- I've made kits since the late 90's and have made some very good ones. An hour ago my son & I discussed which bottles we are taking to the after-crushing tasting that happens tomorrow (we unloaded 2+ tons of grapes and are crushing tomorrow morning), and we are taking 2 barrel-aged kit wines that I'm proud of.
 
It would also depend on your storage conditions and temperature,as aging occurs faster at higher temperatures.What is the temp in your cellar?
 
There is a nice article on winemakermag but I thing its for subsribers only entitled «Aim for age»

https://winemakermag.com/article/828-aim-for-age
The one thing that keeps coming again and again is the anthocyanins (color pigments) and tannins seem to be important for red wine aging. Kit wine have little tannins therefore reducing their antioxidant capacity,leading to a quicker loss of aroma,increase in volatile acity etc. But you are also talking about the vanilla flavours,and they say that oak integrates into the wine with age (vanillin coming from the oak),so if you like that flavour it will certainly mellow out,and the fruity character also goes down with age,just part of aging,so maybe you like the younger wines,which is great because they are ready quickly :D
 
@Xlev raises a good point about tannin. I've found the kit wines with skin packs have a longer lifespan, which makes sense. Adding fermentation oak helps with color extraction and preservation, and protects the natural grape tannin. A lot of red grape techniques apply to kits.
 

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