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Nov 24, 2010 03:58 AM

How long do Pinot Noirs last?

I "inherited" around 30 to 40 bottles of wine. All of them red and many Pinot Noir. They ( the Pinots) are all between 2003-2005. I know I should try and drink them before the Cabernets or other reds but how much pressure am I under? I was thinking of bringing the following to Thanksgiving
2004 Shea Wine Cellars Willamette Valley
2004 Lange 3 Hills Cuvee also Willamette Valley

I confess I don't know if these wines were ever good

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  1. Assuming the wines were properly stored, they will be fine.
    Now for the bad news. You're probably committing infanticide on the Shea. It's a respected name in Oregon wine and will probably be continuing to improve for the next five years at least. Consider decanting it or opening the bottle several hours in advance to give it a chance to breathe.
    The Lange is not as highly regarded and now is probably a good time to drink it.
    Pinot noir can last a long time.
    Now is a good time to drink the 2003s. It was a hot vintage around the northern hemisphere and they are not as long lived.
    The 2005s will be very long lived.

    1. Its one of those truisms that cabs age better than pinots. Like having reds with meat and white with fish. Plenty of exceptions to the rule. At 5-8 years, the wines should be fine for drinking right now and if they have been well made and properly stored, you’re in no imminent danger of them turning. They can keep developing. If you have multiple bottles of the same vineyard and vintage, you should try one and see what shape they’re in to see if they would continue to age well. Willamette Valley is one of the US centers for Pinot. Great choice for TD dinner.

      3 Replies
      1. re: Bkeats

        Thanks so much. someone told me they wouldn't last. They have been in our basement for most of their lives. I did have the movers pack them but I got them lying down within a couple of days.
        As for the Shea, I will just put it away for awhile! to replace it for TD how about one of these.
        What about 2002 Wieninger Pinot Noir Grand Select
        2003 Wine by Joe (doesn't sound that promising)
        2003 Antica Terra

        My husband bought all this wine. He bought alot of Pinot because he knew I liked it but I never paid any attention to what it was. Just drank what he poured. I have other wines as well all red though. I really like white burgundy too but I guess we must have drank that up as he bought it. Thanks again for your advice.

        1. re: jwmenehune

          The Antica Terra sounds like the best one to drink now. It's got a good reputation.
          I've seen Wine by Joe but never tried it. It's pretty much a budget wine. The 2003 might not be any good.
          The Wieninger is a an Austrian wine. I know nothing about it. Austria is generally not known for their reds, but they can be excellent.
          Try a couple and see how they are holding up in your storage conditions. Remember you want them in a place that's cool and doesn't have great temperature swings.

          1. re: SteveTimko

            I've had the '03 Antica Terra on 3 occasions as of late, and it is drinking in a great place. This was before Maggie Harrison (former assistant winemaker at Sine Qua Non) bought the land and started farming it. I want to say that she bought it in '04 or '05 maybe, and did some serious vineyard work there. They did all their pruning and what not to restore the vineyard, and declassified all the juice in 2005. No idea if they sold it off or what, but they didn't make any wine. Their first vintage was 2006, and I still have quite a few of these, along with the '07's. I also just received my '08's, and haven't tried them yet. Regardless, it's a great winery. -mJ

      2. I am enjoying a San Simeon 2002 Pinot Noir (Monterey County) and it is excellent. I am researching the shelf life of wines....very interesting, I must say! Good tasting and happy Thanksgiving.

        1 Reply
        1. re: AuntiAndi

          Again thanks for calming my fears. The Lange was very good.

          All the bottles are down in my pantry but it is very cool in there. All the wines are in total disarray ( I am sure you would all be aghast!)
          I am going to sort them out over the next few weeks so I can get help from this board understanding what I have. I'll make myself a crib sheet from your input. Now that I will be drinking with far more consciousness I might learn!
          Hope you all enjoyed your Thanksgiving and that your wine selections were the perfect accompaniment to your day!

        2. I just opened a 2005 Blackstone stored on its side, in a kitchen albeit, but in cupboard away from the oven. So we are talking 9 years so I was very skeptical, but after reading this the head I was optimistic! So...sorry to let you down , but my wine was very sub standard, musty at best! Now I'll admit that Blackstone is not top shelf but usually much better than this. I feel it goes back to the varietal, Pinots don't store well.

          7 Replies
          1. re: Lreimers

            It's the BLACKSTONE part of the equation, and not the PINOT NOIR part that's the issue here.

            That said, there is no way to give concrete numbers about ANY varietal in the abstract. There are many Cabernet Sauvignons that won't age past the weekend, so to speak -- i.e.: they are made for immediate consumption. Then, there are other Cabernets (and Cabernet-based wines) that I've personally tasted at 20, 40, 50+ years of age that have blown me away with how incredible they were.

            When it comes to Pinot Noir, I can say the very same thing, with the very same numbers.

            Now, TO GENERALIZE, it may be true that Pinot Noirs do not age -- not "store," AGE -- as long as Cabernets, but that simply means they (may) reach their maturity sooner, but it depends entirely upon the SPECIFIC wines in question: Charles Shaw Cabernet Sauvignon will die of old age much more quickly than, say, Mount Eden Vineyards Estate Pinot Noir from the Santa Cruz Mountains; Yellow Tail Cabernet will mature more rapidly than will Domaine Serene Pinot Noir from Oregon; and so on and so on . . ..

            1. re: Lreimers

              Blackstone is more of an industrial producer. If you look on CellarTracker!, even their reserve wines have a drinking window of a couple of years after release.
              I have Cronin pinot noir from the 1990s that's doing just fine, thank you.
              Two years ago I had a 1983 Eyrie pinot noir that was also doing well.

              1. re: SteveTimko

                Three years ago had my parents over for dinner, they brought a 1980 Sokol Blossor PN, it was fine.

              2. re: Lreimers

                And of course NONE of these posts refer to the French red wines of the Cote d'Or, of Burgundy -- what many feel are the finest Pinot Noirs producers on Earth!

                I've had 20, 30, even 50-year Burgundies that have TRULY been STUNNING, memorable wines -- wines that I can vividly remember to this day . . .

                1. re: zin1953

                  In fact, this post confused me initially because (since many more Pinot Noir labels come from Burgundy than California) I thought the question was about wines from that grape, not a specific region -- which, worldwide, would likely be assumed to imply Burgundy as representative.

                  Anyway, FWIW: I'm currently enjoying 1996 Prunier Auxey-Duresses, 1999 Gros Frère et Soeur Bourgogne Hautes Côtes de Nuits, 1999 and 2001 Groffier Bourgogne Rouge -- all bought in quantity (in CALIFORNIA!) when new on the market, kept cool since. (Average price maybe $12.) They're showing some bottle-to-bottle variation, as usual in such situations, but still bright garnet colors, good aromas and flavors.

                  These are among "lighter" and lower-end examples of typical Burgundian PNs. The main thing is, they were kept COOL and QUIET for their 11 to 16 years stored.

                  1. re: eatzalot

                    Just as an aside, the relative plantings are perhaps not all that dissimilar.

                    According to NASS/CASS, as of 2012, there were 39,610 acres of Pinot Noir planted in California. (That's 16,029.6 hectares.)

                    According to, "Between Auxerre and the Mâcon region, [there are] just 28,715 hectares," but that includes ALL grape varieties, not just Pinot Noir . . . .

                    1. re: zin1953

                      Of course. I referred to _labels_ specifically, because of Yoxall's old reference point of -- thanks to the famous Burgundian generational inheritances and subdivisions -- 45,724 separately named vineyard properties (averaging something like 2 ha each) in Burgundy. At the time he wrote that, the US produced MAYBE 200 pinot labels, very few notable.

                      Of course, (a) not all those Burg. plots were planted to pinot noir, albeit many; (b) not all ended up as individual lieus-dits on labels; and (c) the North American PN industry has grown considerably, as John Haeger's books eminently document.

                      But I think there is still a tendency to a lot of tiny plot ownership in Burgundy -- traditionally it has been a great contrast from Bordeaux practice, for example -- and a profusion of different label names.

              3. Alder Yarrow tastes older CA pinots in this article. Many of them have held up nicely.


                2 Replies
                1. re: ernie in berkeley

                  Following up: the Vinography post mentioned a bottle of 2000 Grape Leaf Cellars "Nicholson Ranch" pinot, saying it didn't quite hold up like many of the others. Grape Leaf operated out of that venerable shared winery on Camelia St. in Berkeley, and I picked up quite a few bottles when they closed out some years ago.

                  The only one left in my cellar is a 2000 Iund vineyard Carneros, and I opened a bottle last night. After an astonishing amount of bottle funk blew off, I was treated to restrained fruit and forest-floor notes. It was about like a good villages-level Burgundy. A nice surprise, reminding me again why keeping a cellar is worthwhile.

                  1. re: ernie in berkeley

                    Good article! There is of course always the question of provenance. I gather the wines were brought by different people, and may have been responsibly cellared. OTHERWISE -- if bought on the market for the purpose -- there's always the issue that a wine with problems today may reflect some past poor storage, rather than the wine's own durability, and it's hard to know which.

                    I've tasted with Alder, early on when he was getting started, and he remarked then that to access some range of wine years, a younger taster like himself was obliged to go to the secondary market (often entailing wines with past owners).

                    Olken's comment to the article -- about notions of California ageworthiness having been put to bed decades ago, yet people Still Don't Get It as Alder remarked at the article's start -- is excellent. (Olken, of course, has been writing expertly about California wines, from blind tastings, much longer than some newer fashionable critics; he was familiar to fans of California wines already when Parker first got started in the 1970s.)