Archives for the ‘General’ Category

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

The Real Review – Top Rank Wines dinner at OTTO Brisbane

The Real Review dinner of Top Rank Wines at OTTO Brisbane in South Bank shone a light on twelve great Australian and New Zealand gold ribbon wines. The restaurant vista, close by the Brisbane River on a stormy spring evening, charged the tasters’ expectant palates.

The large agnolotti parcels were in true Piedmontese fashion, simply coated with gremolata to tease out the relative textures and flavour intensities of each pinot.

OTTO executive chef Will Cowper pitched his matching plates in the frame of an Italian osteria, his understated seasoning clearly allowing the subtleties and characters of the wines to shine and contrast.

View gallery

First course

The chardonnay lineup served with the first course of Fiori di Zucchini

The chardonnay lineup served with the first course of Fiori di Zucchini

Fiori di Zucchini—fried zucchini flowers, ricotta, parmesan, peperonata

The wines

The Single Vineyard Villa Maria with its layers of flavour, crème brûlée, smoke and nut complexity contrasted the single-parcel Talisman with its delicious grapefruit aromatics. The Collector chardonnay, older and slower-maturing, emphasised struck-match character and its linear acidity highlighted its understated development. It will be a long-liver.

Melted cheese and chardonnay go well together. All three wines shone, the lighter body and bright acid finish of the Collector was consistent with contemporary high-end Australian chardonnay.

Second course

The pinot noirs pours with the agnolotti—‘OTTO Reserve’ by Rangers Valley brisket and bone marrow filled pasta, mushrooms, cavolo nero, gremolata

The pinot noir pours with the agnolotti—‘OTTO Reserve’ by Rangers Valley brisket and bone marrow filled pasta, mushrooms, cavolo nero, gremolata

Agnolotti—‘OTTO Reserve’ by Rangers Valley brisket and bone marrow filled pasta, mushrooms, cavolo nero, gremolata

The wines

Three single-vineyard pinots were well matched with this dish. Quealy, grown at Balnarring, has a massive backbone and linear texture when pitted against the svelte floral, soft and silky outlook of the Moorooduc, grown in the low-altitude Tuerong-Moorooduc area. Mountford, from half a hectare on this vineyard’s highest slopes, is a deeply-flavoured, full-bodied, broader textured wine.

The large agnolotti parcels were in true Piedmontese fashion, simply coated with gremolata to tease out the relative textures and flavour intensities of each pinot. Soft (Moorooduc) to bold (Quealy); beefiness contrasting the meatiness of the wines’ whole-bunch ferments.

Third course

Agnello—Longreach lamb rump, green asparagus, peas, zucchini, broad beans, goat’s feta, mint

The wines

Grenache and its blends are styles enjoying some popularity at last. These wines were starkly different. Toby Bekkers (64% syrah, 36% grenache) is from five vineyards on multiple soil types yet it meshed so well: poised, subtle and long-flavoured with minerality in the finish.

Dandelion Vineyards Menagerie (75% grenache, 20% shiraz, 5% mataro), is all from one 80-year-old Tanunda vineyard. The lamb was cooked at low temperature then finished rare and charred to impart a delicious smoked surface, with simple spring vegetables underneath. It was no distraction from the divide between the Bekkers’ silky texture against the Dandelion’s brute Barossa dry-grown concentration.

Fourth course

The reds were served with the Formaggi—Parmigiano Reggiano served with quince paste, pane carasau & fruit bread

Formaggi—Parmigiano Reggiano served with quince paste, pane carasau & fruit bread

The wines

Warm-area shiraz with this much class appealed to many diners’ palates. Pepper Tree Coquun (Coquun is local First Nations dialect name for the Hunter River) has intense colour, a surprise from this region, and comes from 56-year-old vines. It’s sumptuous and mouth-filling. So agreeable.

The most popular match was the lamb with the Bekkers Syrah Grenache.

Heirloom from Willunga grapes eclipsed the former wine with a grander taste of elegance, fine tannin and towering richness of flavour.

The Yangarra Estate, from a nearby vineyard and blended from several blocks, has black fruits, severe structure and a great compromise between fruit and savoury qualities, oak and natural tannin dryness. The wine is an ideal ambassador for Yangarra.

With a structure as tannic as any cabernet sauvignon, the Taltarni, from the original 1969 plantings, is outstanding. A savoury style, with mouth-sweetening tannins and dark fruits to sustain the dense flavours. The parmesan had crunch, but the best enjoyment came from eating the cheese then drinking this selection solo.

The diners expressed a divided response to modern funky chardonnays, while the multi-layered tapestry of flavours in cool-region wines remains popular. Tasters were doubly enthusiastic about the future of warm-region grenache in their weekly wine diet, yet the overt tannins of the Barossa GSM challenged more timid palates.

The most popular match was the lamb with the Bekkers Syrah Grenache. It was cooked sous-vide to a juicy pink and successfully released the wine’s spice and licorice flavours so beloved by Australian drinkers.

The Real Review

Visit the Real Review for authentic, unbiased opinion on the most interesting, current wines in Australia and New Zealand. You can expect:

  • insightful commentary and news about wine and food
  • food and restaurant trends relevant to the wine loving Australian and New Zealander.

4BC Sunday Tipple: Wine Adventure with Master of Wine Peter Scudamore-Smith

Let Peter Scudamore-Smith take your palate on a wine adventure. From McLaren Vale to the Granite Belt, this podcast explores:

  • Nero D’Avola from Golden Grove, a varietal originating from Sicily, excellent potential here given the changing climate as drought-resistant
  • Montelpulciano from McLaren Vale, a varietal originating from Abruzzo on the eastern coast of Italy 
  • Aglianico 2020 from Hidden Creek, from the home of pizza, high country outside of Naples, grapes grown in the Murray Valley, wine hand-made on the Granite Belt by Andy Williams, a perfect pairing with pasta

You can visit  to stream the podcast online and catch up on 4BC Weekends with Spencer Howson and Fleur.

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.”

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