It is true that not all white wines age well. However, those which have been stored in the right conditions can evolve into a greater wine and are some of the most special wines we’re able to source.
How does a wine "die" or “age”? Take a bite out of an apple and leave it on the counter. First, pick up after yourself. Next, did you notice how it’s a little brown? Think of the white fruit turning brown, that’s what happens to wine when it’s exposed to oxygen. When you hear the term oxidation in wine it’s usually in reference to the wine turning bad (aka: it’s dead).
However, as a wine ages, it changes in smell, taste and color due to a very slow amount of oxidation that happens through the cork. It's normally a gradual process which in the instance of White Burgundy from a certain era and riesling can extend over forty years. When it’s gradual the wine's taste evolves into something special. Old white wines which are properly aged have some of the most interesting characteristics.
Due to unknown circumstances, the wines from the mid 90s to as early as 2012s taste older than they should. The tumultuous era starts around 1995.
Ask any winemaker and you'll likely get a different answer as to why. Some say it's climate change, some say it's the introduction of a new grape press used in the area, some say it's that there is more organic farming nowadays…
Here is a running list of White Burgundy with some age... that’s either dead, or delicious.
1. Robert Ampeau, 'Les Perrières' 1er Cru Meursault 1997
This wine is delicious. We opened two bottles a few weeks ago. 1997 is a gamble vintage, so it takes a bit of research. We bought this from the importer directly which was a good sign. It's also from one of the best vineyards in Burgundy, Perrières.
2. 1999 Lafon Montrachet
Er... it's not great. Especially compared to what it once was. It used to be a SICK wine. Lafon is one of our favorite winemakers. In this era we've found some issues though. The newer releases have been some of the best wines in Burgundy as of late and clearly being built to last. Stick to 2010 or younger.
This wine is delicious. We find that there are less oxidation problems in Chablis, maybe because the wines are so sharp and crisp to begin with. This is nutty and toasty but still super refreshing.
4. Domaine Roulot, 'Charmes' 1er Cru Meursault 2007
No shit. This wine is delicious. 2007 is a high acid vintage. We've found that this year has held up better than '06 and '08s even because it had more acidity to preserve it. Also, Roulot made some real nice wine in 2007. Charmes is fancy.
5. 2008 DRC Montrachet
We haven't had this lately but some of the collectors out there have said... it's dead or close to be. DRC Montrachet is one of the most expensive wines out there so if you're swinging like that you likely know what's up already. Just to say... expensive doesn't always mean great. It often does too though.
6. 2007 Sauzet(s)
We've had several Sauzets' from the 1980s that tasted more fresh than the line up of 2007s do. It's a mess of a vintage, considering the high quality wines from producers like Roulot and Coche.
Other wines which are a gamble in the '07 are:
- Paul Pernot
7. 2001 Coche-Dury Puligny-Montrachet Les Enseigneres
This wine is dead, we're sorry to say. We recently tasted a vertical of Coche from vintages in this era. All of which showed remarkable. It seems that the 2001s in particular are in a tough place. 2000, 2002, 2004, and 2005 are all wines we'll work for free for.
This wine is DELICIOUS. Ramonet is often considered to be highly probable for premox. Despite some uncertainty, we find the wines to be consistently delicious as of late.
9. Coche-Dury, Meursault Les Rougeots 1986
DELICIOUS. 1986 Coche Rougeots is a real winner. This is a bucket list wine which didn’t disappoint. 1986 White Burgundy are perfectly creamy and umami right now. This is when great older white wine has flavors that can only be compared to other great older white wines.
10. Domaine Leflaive, Batard-Montrachet Grand Cru 1996
A 1996 Leflaive Batard-Montrachet Jeroboam. Great vintage, great vineyard, and the extra layer of certainty it’d be fresh from the large bottle… it wasn’t. Sadly, premox can hit even the most unexpected wines. We aren’t buyers. Dead.
11. Francois Raveneau, Chablis Grand Cru Blanchot 1999
This wine is, sadly, dead. When old Raveneau is fresh and salty, it’s some of the best white wine around. Unfortunately, this late 90s era is a gamble. This '99 Blanchot was… dead-ish. But certainly not worth the Grand Cru premium.
12. Dauvissat, 'Forest' Premier Cru Chablis 2018
Delicious. Of course 2018 Dauvissat is still fresh. Get your hands on some if you can.
Delicious. There’s a lot of chatter on the recent vintages of Coche-Dury and whether they’re as great as they once were. We don’t know yet, but the 2013 Bourgogne Blanc was really good recently. So at least they’ve nailed that one!
14. Bernard Boisson-Vadot, Meursault Les Grands Charrons 2015
Delicious. Just a shoutout on how tasty these wines are.