A good Sauvignon Blanc can last up to five years with good cellaring but many are starting to change to the vegetative characters after two years. If you like you Sauvignon Blanc fresh and full of vibrant fruit – drink them young 1-2 years from vintage date. I still have museum case of Montana Sauvignon Blanc 1990 – 2000. I am not sure when is going to be a good time to open it – probably when I am in the mood for a bit of experimentation!
I enjoy my Chardonnays with bottle age – as it develops a range of mellow toasty characters with age. Acid is usually important for Chardonnay as it helps the wine retain elements of freshness as it ages. Drink light style wines within 3 years of vintage, but the more concentrated versions can easily age for 10 years with careful cellaring - these wines can give immense pleasure and a great wine experience with food.
Riesling is a wine that yields great flavours when young or aged. Some Rieslings will age magnificently – with many wines lasting 10 – 20 years (though monitor them carefully). The young Rieslings have lots of primary fruit flavours (lemons, limes, floral, apple, tropical fruit) but the aged characters are oily fruit, kerosene, honey).
This variety is best drunk young, through there are a some wineries that make a more concentrated Gewürztraminer that will age for five to seven years.
Pinot Gris can age well for five years – but generally this is made in a young drinking style and is best consumed within a two to three years of vintage.
I buy Merlot that will cellar for seven plus years – this gives the wine a chance to develop more of the meaty (beef tea) and gamey flavours. Many Merlots are made to drink young – so definitely try them within 3 years of vintage date.
Cabernet Sauvignon and blends
I think these wines can easily be cellared for ten to fifteen years and this then gives them a chance to develop cooked fruit and toasty characters whereas younger wines are rich in fruit such as black current, black berry, black olive and mint. This variety can last a long time – many Bordeaux wines have reputations for fifty plus years.
Lighter wines should be enjoyed within two to three years while more concentrated wines can last for many years - ten to fifteen easily. Grange (Australia) can last for fifty years and still surprise.
Most Pinot Noir should be consumed around four to five years though I will leave my best Pinots for eight to ten years. If they are made of the right stuff – they will age into the most beautiful combination of mushroom, earthy, deep beetroot characters – something special with beef or game