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Why age wines – and how to do it right

Master of Wine Peter Scudamore-Smith explains why and when you should age wines, along with tips on how to age wine successfully.

In the world of wine, it has been said that ‘great wine needs time’. Many age-worthy wines are released and consumed too young and well before they have reached optimal maturity. It’s a delicate balance between patience and anticipation. In this blog, we’ll explore why, when, and how to age wine like a connoisseur. Whether you’re a seasoned wine enthusiast or someone just starting to appreciate the nuances of wine, we will guide you through the basics, helping you to unlock the unique flavours that come with a bit of patience.

Why should you age wine?

Enjoy wines at their peak

Age-worthy wines will evolve and mature, reaching their peak drinking window after some time in the bottle. Unlike consuming them immediately after bottling, ageing allows the wines to develop in complexity and result in a more integrated and refined wine in the glass, showcasing the winemaker’s vision.

Tame tannins and acidity

Wines high in tannin or acidity at bottling can benefit from ageing. The ageing process softens acidity and allows tannins to integrate, resulting in a smoother and more well-balanced wine.

Enhance by barrel or bottle ageing

It’s not just about how long you age wine but also where it is aged. Winemakers may choose to age wine in oak barrels to impart flavours like nuts and coffee, from micro-oxidation as well as from the oak. New oak will result in stronger oak flavours compared to old oak which will have a more neutral impact on the wine. Ageing wine in bottles allows the tertiary flavours to shine. Many winemakers will choose a combination of barrel and then bottle ageing to craft the final wine flavour profile.

Develop tertiary flavours

The ageing process enables a range of unique tertiary flavours to develop in the wine – the longer the wine ages, the more the flavours will evolve. White wines can mature into flavours like marmalade, ginger and honey, while red wines can develop into flavours like figs, tar, leather and earth.

When should you age wine? 

Choose quality over quantity

When ageing wine, it isn’t necessarily about the number of years; it’s important to remember that ‘more doesn’t always equal better’. Only age a wine if the wine itself will be enhanced by age and the end result in the glass will be a better experience for the person enjoying it. If tertiary flavours won’t enhance the wine, then it’s better to release and drink the wine after it is bottled. The same is true when deciding how long to age a wine, which we will explore in the next section.

Choose the right variety 

Different grape varieties have different ageing potential based on their acidity, tannins, and flavour intensity. Light, fruit-forward wines like Rosé, Pinot Grigio and Sauvignon Blanc don’t tend to age well, while high-acid or tannic wines like Chardonnay, Riesling, Shiraz, Cabernet Sauvignon can evolve and get better with time. 

This handy infographic shows how the flavours of these common age-worthy varieties evolve during the ageing process.

Read more about the flavour evolution of the Terroirs of the Granite Belt 2010 Aged Reserve Chardonnay and the 2008 Aged Reserve Shiraz.

Terroirs of the Granite Belt


Aged Wine Infographic showing how the flavours of these common age-worthy varieties evolve during the ageing process


How long should you age wine?

White wine vs. red wine

When thinking about how long to cellar your wine, remember that white wines typically don’t age as long as red wines. This is because they’re (generally) not fermented on their grape skins so they have less tannin in the wine, which reduces the overall ageing potential, there are some white varieties which are exceptions.

A matter of personal preference

It’s also important to consider your personal preferences in terms of flavour characteristics. If you enjoy the flavours common in aged wines, then you can comfortably cellar your wine towards the higher end of the ageing window, however, if you only want subtle aged flavour characteristics, then open and enjoy your wine when it’s in the younger end.

Timing is everything

If you are ageing wines, make sure you remember to open them within their optimal drinking window. There is nothing more disappointing than patiently waiting for years (sometimes many years!) to open a special bottle of wine, only to find it has spoiled or is well past its best. You can use a spreadsheet or other cellar management tool to track which wines to drink and when.

Some general guidelines 

If you aren’t sure how long to age a wine, we’ve put together some general guidelines based on common red and white varieties. Remember though that ageing potential will vary based on each individual wine, the winemaking methods, the region  and vintage variation.

Ageing guidelines infographic for red whine and white wine varietals

How should you age wine?

Ideal cellaring conditions 

Successful ageing requires a carefully controlled environment. For the best results, the cellar should be:

  • Kept at a consistent temperature (11 to 14°C). Choose a cooler temperature if you’re wanting to age it for longer.
  • Mainly dark with limited if any light source
  • Away from any vibrations or movement
  • Humidity controlled. Maintain over 70% humidity for cork or long term ageing screw caps. Standard screw caps don’t require humidity control. 

The importance of ideal cellaring conditions 

These conditions may seem a bit over the top but each of them serve an important purpose and reduce the potential of spoiling your special wines.

  • Keeping the wines cool will avoid heat damage to the wine from fluctuating temperatures or hot temperatures which can ‘cook’ the wine and dull the flavours. Common pitfalls are storing wines near washing machines, cars and stovetops which are all heat sources and cause regular fluctuations in the temperature around them. How many times have you seen wine stored in the laundry, garage or kitchen … these are not suitable locations.
  • Keeping the wines in a dark location will avoid light strike which is when UV or blue light transforms the amino acids in wine into compounds that smell like damp cardboard or old cabbage.
  • Keeping the wines away from sources of vibration reduces the damage that vibration causes when it leads to a decrease in tartaric and succinic acids, causing a reduction in esters, which dulls flavours.
  • Keeping the wines in a humidity controlled environment avoids drying out the cork which can compromise the wine and lead to early oxidation of the wine. Ageing wines under screw cap will help avoid this potential issue.


The art of ageing wine creates an elevated drinking experience, allowing the wine to develop and evolve over time. The choice to age a wine depends on the wine’s characteristics, and proper storage is crucial. Settlers Rise embraces this process, offering carefully cellared aged reserve wines released at their optimal drinking window. We have aged the wine for you, so you don’t have to. 

The price of patience 

Aged wines can often come with a higher price tag due to the additional time, cellaring and storage costs, not to mention delayed revenue for the winery. At Settlers Rise we invest in the meticulous care required for ageing, resulting in exceptional and sought-after vintages of reserve wines cellared for 10 to 15 years before release.

Find out more about our Terroirs of the Granite Belt aged reserve Chardonnay and Shiraz.

Terroirs of the Granite Belt

Vintage flies: Queensland’s South Burnett wine region verdelho

Vintage 2021 is here in Queensland’s heart of warm climate winemaking, Moffatdale, in the South Burnett Geographic Indication (GI).  Master of Wine Peter Scudamore-Smith shares his experience of witnessing the first harvest of the 2021 season in the South Burnett Wine Region at Lightning Tree, Moffatdale.  Lightning Tree Wines vigneron Peter Stewart is the proud owner of the verdelho vineyard featured above, ready to harvest its vintage. 


Producer Lightning Tree Wines First Harvest #v21

Peter Stewart, Lightning Tree Wines owner, quips:

“We have very contrasting verdelho harvest dates; this year 4 January, last year 23 December (2019), several years ago it was late January — the vagaries of climate change are borne out”.

Peter Stewart owns Lighting Tree Wines on Tipperary Road, Moffatdale

The first pick of vintage 2021 is a small team effort — Clovely Estate’s contract mechanical harvester trundled down the verdelho vines yesterday morning at 5 am. Owner Peter Stewart, a local viticulture professional from Lightning Tree vineyard at 167 Tipperary Road, surveyed his beautifully clean berries.

Clovely Estate Pellenc harvests Lightning Tree Wines Verdelho Grapes. Image courtesy of Peter Stewart

Verdelho thriving in the South Burnett Geographic Indication (GI)

In this part of the wine world, the sub-region of Moffatdale in the South Burnett Geographic Indication (GI), verdelho is the go-to white variety. These vines make a great contrast in a sub-tropical estate of rolling green hills, Ironbark ridges and straw-brown fence lines.

Verdelho is a hero grape in the Moffatdale sub-region. Image courtesy of Peter Stewart

A variety with origins in the Portuguese island of Madeira, it likes the hot and dry, and in rare bouts of rain (currently in five years of drought), the vine canopy dries out and presents great fruit for harvest.

And for the winemakers around, Peter Scudamore-Smith reports,

“Baume 12.25,  pH 3.15, titratable acidity, 7.8 grams per litre, dominant pine and lime flavours.”

“By the sound of this, we need to taste this very soon. I have booked my tasting sample and I see my colleague at qwinereviews has done likewise.

“So I am witnessing my 24th vintage in the South Burnett Wine Region.”

Louis Latour: Old Burgundy Drink Makers

Maison Louis Latour – is a family company that spans every part of Burgundy, having an intriguing collection of wines. And an age-old establishment story.

Denis Latour had his first vineyard by 1731, and later Corton Grancey, where Uncorked wine tourists visit, by 1749. Chateau Grancey was the first purpose-built winery in France; established in 1831.

After the French revolution Jean Latour purchased prime vineyards from a cash-strapped government, confiscated from previous church and noble ownership.


Our France wine tours take guests through the regions of Burgundy; the Cote de Nuits, the Cote de Beaune, Cote Chalonnaise and Macon; offering introduction-only visits to caves, only some open to the public. If you’d like to find out more about this exclusive guided experience for lovers of wine and food, you can call Denise on +61 427 705 391 or email

Latour, having owned the vineyard around it, bought the chateau (with winery) in 1891.

Formal establishment of today’s family brand which buys, trades and makes wine, accumulating 48 prime hectares of vineyards, happened in 1797.

Seven generations of Latour’s (three have been called Louis), and hence the survival of the name, steered the firm to make great white wines.

The vineyards of Corton (main photo) have been Latour’s most famous. And after the phylloxera vine ravage of the Corton-Charlemagne in the 1870s for 30 years, the Latours took the odd step of replanting the common aligote variety and pinot noir, with chardonnay.

This appellation produces some of the greatest chardonnays in all Burgundy. I really like them.

Part of the success of Corton-Charlemagne from this maker is their differing approach to barrels. Since 1898, Latour has made its own barriques (2500 of 228 litres). They have a tonnellerie.

Latour Tonnellerie Savigny-les-Beaune

Latour Tonnellerie Savigny-les-Beaune

Even more remarkable is that just one type of barrel is made; medium toast firing of a secret oak supplied from a blend of forests.

Where used new, this oak is applied to high-end chardonnay and pinot regardless of appellation. The barrel taste effects are constant at Latour. One size fits all grand cru and premier cru vineyard lots.

Barriques of Corton- Chateau Grancey

Barriques of Corton- Chateau Grancey

Moxon Oak imports and sells hundreds of these barrels to Australian winemakers. And now local winemaking technocrats may buy Latour wines made with the same oak they and Louis Latour use; currently the 2015 vintage is available.

Here is a Louis Latour Corton-Charlemagne 2015 (AUD 280) just starting its taste journey; oak shows but subtle over the lemon curd aromas of the fruit; palate now austere from oak dryness but great fruit length and grip. Great chardonnay has grip.


Corton-Charlemagne 2015

Uncorked tour guests tasted Louis Latour Corton-Charlemagne 2014 at Corton Grancey winery in 2016; far more restrained yet oak is aniseed-like, the fruit is more shy from the vintage conditions, and flavour not as broad or orange-creme as a riper year.

This is Louis latour Corton-Charlemagne 2008 tasted underground at Corton Grancey winery in 2015; emerald green, hints of gold, no oak on nose, fungal, marmalade fruit aroma, palate powerful, filling every taste bud in the mouth, complete, rounded, acid still linear, coiled in concentration.

Corton-Charlemagne 2008

Corton-Charlemagne 2008

This is Louis Latour Corton-Charlemagne 2005 drunk in Brisbane in 2009; pale green, not much colour actually, nose of limes and nuts, crunchy, sweetened fruit and oak impact; drying but rich marmalade in the mid palate, long flavour, tingling acid with creaminess, wine starting to open up; maturation span 25 + years.


Corton-Charlemagne 2005

Samples, tastings and purchases of Louis Latour 2015 chardonnays are available from NextGen Wine Merchants. For more information and price list please email


Year Cooperage established-Beaune


Gourmet Traveller Wine | News Article


There’s a lot to taste and experience in the picturesque landscapes of France and Italy. Uncorked and Cultivated offer authentic epicurean food and wines tours to iconic regions like Bordeaux, Champagne, Tuscany, Sicily and more, hosted by Master of Wine Peter Scudamore-Smith. Their small-group tours focus on delivering the best of each region. Immerse yourself in French culture on an exclusive tour of Champagne, Burgundy and Rhône and discover the perfect French food and wine pairings. Tour dates from 22 May to 1 June 2018, A$7.700 per person. Uncorked has also partnered with Travelling Divas to announce their first female-only itinerary. Experience the Tastes of Rome and Sicily on a tour combing glamour, culture and the divine food and wine of Italy. Tour dates from 6 to 16 September 2018, A$7,450 per person.



GOURMET TRAVELLER WINE | August-September 2017 | p 130

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