Are white wines good for laying down?
Just think about Sauternes which can be kept for fifty years or even more or Jura wine where some bottles which are over a century-old, still have a remarkable freshness when opened.
Red wines are said to age well, apparently due to their tannins which provide the required structure. Being that white wines have none, it’s assumed they should be drunk young. But this is without considering the second factor which allows wines, whether they are white or red, to improve after several years of laying down: their acidity.
Great French white wines, notably from Burgundy (Montrachet, Meursault…), boast this acidity, due particularly to the very cold climate in the southern part of the Rhône Valley. A five-year ageing process is necessary before their potential comes to a peak.
The Rhône Valley also has some great white wines (Condrieu, Hermitage, Châteauneuf-du-Pape) which definitely improve after laying down: a golden colour, pronounced aromas of honey, springtime flowers … all appear after several years. To attain this result, wine-makers must be even more careful regarding the harvest date and the vinification method: harvesting a couple of days later, grapes too warm when brought in or a too marked barrel transition – will all make wine lose their acidity.
So don’t hesitate to age your white wines for five years or even more, you’ll undoubtedly be (pleasantly) surprised!