Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >
HOME > Chowhound > Wine >
Oct 4, 2006 09:40 PM

grenache blanc longevity?

Hi there,
beginning wine lover/ longtime drinker here and I saw an ad that said something to the effect of "2005 sauvignon blancs are still good for the fall" and I didn't even know they might go bad that soon. So I'm wondering about the longevity of a 2005 grenache blanc i bought from epiphany, and also how long other 2005 whites last - gewurtzraminer, sauv blanc etc?

I recognize that there will always be estimations and that this is a general question, but all I'm hoping for are general answers are perhaps ways to estimate how long something like this will last.

also, I still have a couple bottles of some 2005 rosays i was drinking and was wondering if they too might "go bad" of off before december.

Thank you! I'm a novice!

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. I think the ad you saw was trying to respond to the common thought that Sauvignon Blanc is a "summer" wine.

    Any white wine will hold up for at least 2 years. Super zippy, almost spritzy whites like some Sauvignon Blancs will lose a bit of their edge, but will pick up a little more body during the first 6-12 months.

    Low acid whites will not age as well as higher acid whites for the longer term (3-15 years). So a KJ Chard from California is not going to go the distance or develop as nicely as a more classically styled white burgudy (also chardonnay), etc.

    1. This is not a very technical response, but white wines that are meant to age are generally more expensive than those that are meant to drink right away. It's a good rule of thumb for a novice to use. For example, there are wines made from sauvignon blanc in Bordeaux (and a couple in California) that will become much more rich and interesting over 10 years or so, but those wines will generally cost over $30 per bottle retail. Most sauvignong blanc is produced to drink pretty much right away and is priced as every day wine.

      As for white wines going bad, you might not even notice the subtle decline in fruitiness or zip after 2 years in bottle. The wines don't really go bad as much as they begin to decline. There's certainly no expiration date that any of us could point to! That said, drink your 2005 roses sooner rather than later. Those wines are best enjoyed young and fresh.

      1. thank you folks so much. that makes sense. I think the grenache was between 30-40 clams, which is one reason i didn;t want to rush to drink it.

        the roses will have no problem going down; they have been a great discovery this summer.

        so it seems like a genereal rule of thumb is that whites aren't not meant to age, or at least don't improve with it?

        a completely different question: a friend brought over a cheap white last nite to use in a recipe (carrot habanero leek soup) and i had a taste. The smell was fantastic, but the taste was wayyy too sweet for me. then I noticed the alcohol was 10%. Would this wine have been less off-puttingly sweet if the alcohol was higher? (the grape was some sort of australian muscat)

        5 Replies
        1. re: mr mouther

          Yes, sweet wines generally have residual sugar, which is left over when the winemaker has chosen not to ferment the wine all the way to "dry" - if it had been fermented to complete dryness, the alchohol would be higher.

          1. re: DonnyMac

            That's the usual, but some people add sugar to the wine too, or unfermented grape juice.

            Alcohol itself can give the perception of sweetness too.

          2. re: mr mouther

            As a general rule of thumb, of the millions of bottles of wine made every year, not many of them are meant to age. But plenty of white wines ARE meant to age.

            There are many factors in how well a wine ages, not all of them completely clear. Amount of acid has been mentioned, sugar, alcohol, all affect things. The best aging is done by wines balance between those different components.

            How do you guess when to pull the cork? Well, some people have touched on some ways, like vin de garde (wine for keeping) tends to cost more, but not always. I know of $10 Portuguese wines that will last 20 years or more. In general, you just have to know. Some winemakers try to make wines for keeping, others don't. And some vineyards tend to produce wines for keeping. And some varieties tend to age faster than others, and some climates tend to produce wines that age faster because they get really ripe which might not help them be balanced for the long term.

            I have a few bottles of Banyuls Blanc in my cellar. They are 15 or more years old and are made primarily of Grenache blanc. They're sweet and are getting rather dark in color, but they're fine and will hold for at least another 5 years or more. But they're the exception. Grenache blanc is not normally meant to age a long time.

            Here's a rule of thumb for you - New World wines don't last as long as old world wines. There are exceptions to every rule, but New World (anywhere but Europe) winemakers tend to want their wines to show their best early on, at release even, for marketing reasons.

            If you are familiar with the reputation of a winery, you can predict how long their new wines will last based on how long their old ones have.

            Here's another thing to consider, in poor vintages the wines age faster. In general. Of course, if they have old vines in the vineyard, which have much larger, better developed root structures, the quality of the vintage has less effect.

            Now, if you had told us what wine it was exactly, we might be more helpful on your particular bottle.

            Oh, and whoever said drink those roses was giving you good advice, there's no such thing as a rose built for aging.

            Except for rose Champagne...

            1. re: Chris Weber

              Thanks much for the info - very clear and helpful. The speicif bottle I'm referring to is a 2005 Grenache Blanc from Epiphany Vineyards in Los Olivos area of california.

              1. re: Chris Weber

                Isn't Banyuls Blanc a VDN? The alcoholic fortification and residual sugar would help preserve it.

            2. all well said on chris' part. i'd only add that wines based on high-acid and light-bodied grapes, such as sauv blanc, are less inclined to age well, even at expensive prices. i've never had a twenty year old pouilly fume, for example. that said, i've had some 30 year old white burgs that have been life-changing. rieslings are one outlier to my first statement--they often will age very well for 15 years or more.
              to close-- mmm...vintage rose champagne...

              5 Replies
              1. re: HeelsSoxHound

                Riesling? 15 years and much more. I'm still sitting on German rieslings from the '70s. MOST of my rieslings are older than 15 years.

                Sauvignon blanc? A friend of mine opened one of his bottles of '93 Couhins-Lurton this year, just a baby still. I haven't been drinking mine. Their website says they will age 20-30 years, and I believe it. It's 100% s.b.

                If you haven't tried 20 year old Pouilly-Fume, maybe you should. But you're right that most of them aren't made for that kind of aging.

                1. re: Chris Weber

                  you're right, i should... i guess i'd be worried about acid levels at that age. i've got some dagueneau that i'm planning on laying down for awhile--maybe i'll lay it down for longer! i still say that *most* sb's are not intended for the long haul.
                  and i did say 15 years or more for riesling... i too have rieslings that have aged beautifully for 30 years. however, i'm leery of those rieslings from vintages that aren't 78, 83, etc. furthermore, i don't want someone to go out and buy QbA and lay it down because we gave them the wrong impression.

                  1. re: HeelsSoxHound

                    The funny thing about QbA, with recent German vintages like 2003, is that it's a brand anymore. The German producers released wines in every category in '03, but they could have all been Auslese or above.

                    But you make a good point about taking someone's "advice" on a message board. And about laying down any wine.

                    When you lay down wine, you usually should try a bottle periodically to see "how they're doing". For example, if you buy a case of Leoville Las Cases, I'd try the first bottle before I thought it was probably at it's peak. So maybe, depending on the vintage, in 15 years. Then if they were developing very quickly, I'd know.

                    For a smaller wine, like a case of Macon-Villages, I'd try my first bottle, well, immediately. Then, another in a year or so, or something like that, for a wine that normally develops in 3-5 years.

                    There, Hound, am I giving the right impression?

                2. re: HeelsSoxHound

                  That's rather an odd rule of thumb since high acid preserves white wines...are you saying that *low acid* white wines will last longer?

                  1. re: Melanie Wong

                    nope--i was saying that high acid, light-bodied grapes such as sb can often have nothing left after a few years... roses too, because the acid level that is key to their flavor profiles will have dropped to the point that they're no longer vibrant. i understand that high acid is a necessity for longevity in wine--but those wines that are made to be consumed at a young age don't have the *other* necessary components to contribute to that longevity. for example, i would say that allan scott sb from new zealand is a high acid wine. i would wager that in 5 or 6 years, it's not going to be as explosively fragrant or fresh as it is now, and as such, i wouldn't really want to drink it. however, a red burgundy, or for that matter, a german riesling (auslese, spat, or otherwise), though possessed of similar acidity, also have the body and structure to round out the package and will not even be ready to drink for several years. sorry if i was unclear.

                3. Inexpensive SBs from NZ will NOT be as good next year. I had a 2004 Brancott--over the hill. It may not have been stored properly, too.
                  I agree wines for aging usually cost more. An exception might be Southern Rhone whites--Rousanne/Marsanne blends seem to last forever, I grabbed a bunch of 2001 Corbieres from Les Vignerons du Val d'Orbieu "Les Deux Rives" for $4 and I am always amazed at its minerally goodness which shows no signs of fading.
                  In general most whites off the shelf are ready to drink now.