The beauty of age

As with people, time can be cruel to some wines. Where they were once energetic, they’re just showing up. Once bright, they lose colour. Undesirable traits can start to develop, and there’s often no going back. 

Yet while most parents hope their children have long and fruitful lives, the same cannot be said for winemakers. 

 In short:Not all wine styles benefit from a long rest in the cellar. 

Take Beaujolais Nouveau for example. In French tradition, Gamay from the Beaujolais region is handpicked, undergoes the fun process of carbonic maceration, is bottled 6-8 weeks post vintage, and is officially released each year on the third Thursday of November. It’s young, it’s fun, it’s vibrant. Low tannin, with plenty of immediate fruit and bright acid, it would be severely disappointing if you whipped it out in ten years time. 

 For a well structured age-worthy wine, winemakers are looking for a balance of alcohol, sugar, tannin and acidity. This is why the Geoff Merrill logo is the scales - the pursuit and (we reckon) the execution of wines with perfect balance. 

 Higher alcohol lends to greater stability in wines as time goes on, while acidity and tannin both fade with time, meaning a wine that’s tightly wound to start may well be a beauty in ten to fifteen. Nebbiolo is a prime example of this. 

 But imagine you have a wine that begins its life high in acid, but is low in tannin. Chances are, in five years as that acid settles right down to a lovely drinkability and balance with the wine’s sugars, your tannin is going to be next to non-existent, creating a shorter, less structurally satisfying drop. 

 As you’d know from the dusty fortified styles sitting in your pantry, sugar is a brilliant preservative for wine, and precedes Australians’ penchant for table wine. They used to be all the rage - but for the most part as a nation, we’ve moved on to wines more suitably suited to the food we eat and our warm Aussie climate. We don’t currently make a fortified wine. 

Flavouris also a key reason many wines are aged. It’s a fine line between maintaining i nteresting and worthy primary characters while allowing for the development of further secondary and Young Cabernet Sauvignon can present as quite tightly wound and intense, with hefty tannin and green characters that present much more desirably after a little time in oak and bottle. With time, Cabernet is known to develop beautiful flavours of tobacco, spice and cedar, especially after time in oak, which if acidity, tannin and sugar are maintained are the perfect pairing for primary dark fruit flavours. 

At Geoff Merrill, we have added a range of younger drinking wines to our artillery, known as the ‘ by Merrill’ range, but it’s aged wines that put us on the map. 

Scott and Geoff create powerful wines with balanced structure that lend themselves to time aged in both barrel and bottle, waiting until they’re ready to roll before release. 

Browse our online wine store and you’ll see current vintages include our 2014 Bush Vine SGM, 2015 Jacko’s Shiraz, and 2017 Reserve Chardonnay, while museum wines including the 2010 Reserve Cabernet are developing beautifully. 

Scott says:“It’s reaching the sweet spot where complex aged characters are becoming very evident but there’s still primary fruit there. This is the age I start to open quality vintages. This wine will be fine to revisit in another 3-5 years.” 

So if you can bear it, when you’re purchasing Geoff Merrill wines, aim for an “heir and a spare” mentality; buy a couple, so that if you suffer an unfortunate loss (or weak thirsty moment) in the next couple years, you’ll have a couple of gems ready to go the distance.