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Are these wines good to drink now?

Im totally uneducated when it comes to wines. I just wrote down a list of wines we have in the basement and wanted to see if they were good to drink now (had bought them a while ago and/or received them as gifts)
Anyway, here is the list:

--Ravenswood Vintners blend..2000 Cali. Zinfandel
--Beringer 1996 Chenin Blanc
--Beringer 1996 Napa Valley Chardonnay Private Reserve
--Rosemount Estate 2002 Shiraz
--RH Phillips 1997 Chardonnay
--Robert Mondavi 1995 Chardonnay Reserve
--Chalk Hill 1996 Chardonnay
--J. Strub 1996 Neirsteiner Hipping Riesling Spatlese
--Meursault 1995 White burgundy

( also discovered 4 bottles of champagne left over from parties (unopened)...would those still be good as well? The Perrier & Jouet is dated 1990, Im not sure about the others)

Thanks so much!

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  1. Yes, with one or two possible exceptions, they're all ready to drink. Some may even be past peak. The possible exceptions are the Riesling and the Meursault, which, depending on the producer and assuming good storage conditions, may have plenty of life left in them. On the other hand, they may not and they're probably drinking well now, so seize the day.

    4 Replies
    1. re: carswell

      thanks! I was mainly worried about them going bad...they've been stored in the basement but its not temp controlled etc

      1. re: SBackes

        Carswell is being quite diplomatic, I think.

        -- Ravenswood makes their Vintners Blend Zinfandel for current consumption. That doesn't mean it cannot age, but it does mean they are ready to drink as soon as it hits the shelf. This 2000 was released five years ago. It may be fine, but I'd have a backup handy just in case.

        -- Beringer makes their Chenin Blanc to drink now, and it generally doesn't age well. For an off-dry California Chenin Blanc, 10+ years is pushing it.

        -- Beringer's Private Reserve Chardonnay can age a bit, but this is a 1996, and that's a very long time for 99% of all California Chardonnays.

        -- Rosemount Estate 2002 Shiraz . . . this istheir "black diamond" label, I presume. Should be fine, but I wouldn't hang onto it for much longer.

        -- RH Phillips makes wines, again, ready to drink now. It is one year younger than the Beringer, and its aging potential is is far less.

        -- As for the Robert Mondavi, this has a slightly better change than the Beringer, IMHO, but . . .

        -- When it comes to the Chalk Hill, their Chardonnays typically have better structure, better acidity either Beringer and/or Mondavi. Still, it's nearly 11 years of age.

        -- J. Strub 1996 Neirsteiner Hipping Riesling Spatlese may work.

        -- Meursault is a region within Burgundy, and you don't mention the producer, but this, too, may be fine.

        As far as the Champagnes are concerned, the 1990 Perrier-Jou√ęt should be fine. Without knowing the names of the other bottles, it's hard to hazzard a guess.


        1. re: zin1953

          I was really hoping for details like this....thanks so much. I guess I'll just have to drink all these myself in case they aren't in the best state to have for guests ;)

          1. re: zin1953

            For the Ravenswood VB Zin, I usually pick up a case/year for cooking and for the cook. I often have a few that languish for a year, or so, in the cellar, and they are still good, for what they are, but I'd wonder about seven years in the cellar. They should not be "bad," but worry that there will be much left in them.

            As for some of the domestic (US) Chards, I think that it'll depend on exactly what one likes in a Chard. I've had some great domestic Chards with 10+ years on them, but rather like a well-structured Chard with some age. My wife likes 'em younger, so one's MMV on these.

            I agree, regarding the Meursault. Depending on the producer, it should be great, or very good, if one likes an aged Chard.

            In very general terms, I'd plan on "drinking up," and hope for the best with most of these.

            Remember, your "prime" might well be my "over the hill," or vice versa. If stored well, none should be "bad," just a little flat and one-dimensional now.


      2. None of those is too young. Some may be too old. The Perrier Joet should be consumed now and should be very good.

        1. All but the shiraz and possibly the Meursault & riesling are probably past peak... the Zinfandel is probably peaking now...

          That said, assuming it's true, it's still interesting to try bottles that are supposedly over the hill... often you discover that they've matured quite nicely and retain alot of their drinkability despite a bit of decay... it would be very interesting to get your tasting notes on these bottles, please report same.

          1. You should check out the drinking windows suggested by cellartracker.com. I find that it is relatively accurate.

            2 Replies
            1. re: MEalcentric

              will definitely check this out, thanks

              1. re: SBackes

                There's lots that I like about cellatracker, but the drinking windows are often pretty arbitrary in my experience. I believe they are just based on community averages, so if you have a wine that only one person has entered a drinking window for, and that person has put "from 2005 thru 2099", that's the window you'll get. If a second person then puts "from 2010 thru 2019", you will presumably end up with something like "from 2007 thru 2049". Not terribly helpful. It's a bit more reliable with more widely purchased wines (assuming you believe in the wisdom of the herd).

            2. You don't say what the basement conditions are like (exposure to light, temperature.) If they've just been sitting on a shelf exposed to room lighting at temps comfortable to people, they're probably all toast; the cooler and darker the conditions, the better your chances; reasonable humidity too is even better. Some lesser Riesling can age very well but that particular one is unlikely to be anything "special" (good-ish producer, OK year) and prematurely aged Riesling, if that's the case, is a bit unusual, let's say. But as everyone else is saying, it can't hurt to check 'em out, just don't make dinner party plans around them...

              1 Reply
              1. re: MikeG

                they were in the back room of our basement....tends to be cooler and is the light is only on when we are getting something from the freezer...definitely on the humid side down there too

              2. Historically, i.e., before 1978-1980, Wine producers made wine in different ways than they do now. It used to be that wine was made, bottled, and released, and you needed to keep it until it was "ready". Of course back then you could also still go into any semi-decent wine store and buy 21 year old bottles of vintage port off the shelf.

                Then the boom hit. Demand overran production and changes were made. Most changes in the wine industry over the past 40 years have been great, a few I lament.

                Very very few wineries make wine the way they "used to" anymore. Most of it is acceptable to drink when it is bottled.

                There are some interesting exceptions, and you can artificially have some fun as well if you like. I used to store cheap wine that people would bring for holidays in the back of the wine area, and wait 8-10 years to look at them. I remember some awfully cheap wines that after 8-10 years aged and mellowed quite nicely. The rest we threw out or used for cooking. One soave in particular was great after a decade, it had turned golden and developed a lovely finish; the person who had given it to me was stunned when I reminded them of the gift and told them how great it was after a decade.

                I recently bought 3 cases of a 1975 auslese. It is like a trip in a time machine, not even the bottle is the same size anymore. Yeah it has a few gray hairs, but it is the color of amber, and tastes like tupelo honey and apricots and sunshine from 32 years ago, so I'm happy.

                1. I'd probably stay away from the chardonnays (well, I think YOU should try them, but not for guests). I tend to drink chards right when I buy them, or a max of a year and a 1/2 after that... just my personal preference. 10+ years seems like a long time.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: wino22

                    With the exclusion of several FR Chards (note: not any dessert wines here), I used to feel the same. However, over the decades, I've experienced many Cal-Chards, that were great at 10 years of age in my cellar. Now, most of these were well-crafted wines to begin with, but aged wonderfully. The Beringer & Mondavi Chards in the OP's list *might* be good candidates for their being sublime wines now, even with the years of aging.

                    Not long ago, I found a "lost" btl. of Ferrari-Carano Reserve Sonoma Chard from '73. It had been in the wrong bin, and I figured that it was long gone. Brought it up (along with a backup), and it was anything BUT long gone. What a wonderful wine. Yes, it had changed dramatically, but then I wished that I still had my full case from release. When I was next at the winery, I tried to buy some of their library Chards, but they had just done a clearance for the employees. None was left. Oh well, I now try to stick away a few bottles of bigger Cal-Chards to age them, along with my Burgs.

                    Now, aged whites (non-dessert) might not appeal to all, but I love them. My wife, who likes even her Ports young, has fallen in love with some aged domestic (US) Chards. Remember, I'm not talking about Yellowtail Chards here.


                  2. This is the funnest thread ever! Can you 'hounds please perform a similar analysis on the only six "serious" bottles currently remaining in my, er, cellar:

                    1991 Muga Prado Enea
                    1997 Angelica Zapata Malbec Alta
                    2000 Coppo Pomorosso Barbera D'Asti (don't laugh! this is, like, a serious Barbera)
                    2002 Ojai Roll Ranch Syrah
                    2002 Trevor Jones Dry Grown Barossa Shiraz
                    2003 Coppo Alterego (Nebbiolo/Barbera blend??)