Best Wines to Age in Your Collection – 10 Recommendations

by JJ Buckley Fine Wines

Best wines to age in your collection - barrels in a cellar

Wine left to age offers up exceptional flavors you just can’t get with new wine. It also lets you sample wine from a year that holds a special memory, such as the year of your marriage or the year your child was born or adopted.

The best aged wine is also a delight to savor, a unique transformation in a bottle that you can share with friends on everything from a warm summer day to a cozy winter evening.

Why Certain Wines Are the Best Wines to Age

Not all wines age well. A taste of an old wine that wasn't meant to be aged might reveal sour vinegar flavors or strangely nutty or burnt aromas. Your wine might also smell musty or cabbage-like, with dull, lifeless fruits.

Wines that are able to age have particular characteristics that enhance their age-worthiness. Roughly 98 percent of wines on the market are intended for immediate consumption or for limited aging of no more than 5 years. Just 2 percent will benefit from long-term cellaring. But those 2 percent can deepen into something delightful, and are a marvel to taste.

Characteristics That Influence How Wine Ages

Good wines to age will share certain characteristics regardless of whether they are red wines or white wines. The best candidates for aging have good structure and balance. Structure comes in the form of tannins, residual sugar, alcohol and acidity, with higher acidity and higher tannins contributing to an extended lifespan.

Your wine will also age well if it has moderate to high residual sugars to help slow down the process. Alcohol content helps here as well, but it is most beneficial in fortified wines. In non-fortified wines, the alcohol can have the opposite effect if it doesn’t have high acidity to act as a balance.

Red wines have other phenols – such as anthocyanins that impart color – that aid in slowing down oxidation. White wines typically lack these phenols and tannins and cannot age for as long unless they have high acidity and high residual sugars to compensate. It's all about the balance!

Now, how can you identify what wines to age in your collection, and for how long?

Aging Red and White Wines in Your Collection

Red wines generally need longer to reach maturity than do white wines. While a Cabernet Sauvignon might reach maturity in 10 to 15 years, a Sauvignon Blanc or Prosecco might get there in just 2 to 3 years.

Your wine will also experience differences in aging potential depending on where it was produced. For example, a Washington Riesling might mature in 6 years while an Australian version might reach maturity at the 10-year mark.

Typically, for red and white wines that age for 10 to 20 years, think Cabernet Sauvignon, Brunello, Barolo, red Bordeaux, Sauternes, ice wine, Semillon and German Riesling.

For reds and whites maturing in the 5- to 10-year mark, look to Rioja, Super Tuscans, Syrah, Cabernet Franc, Champagne, Zinfandel and white Bordeaux.

Reds and whites that usually reach their peak before 5 years are often better for storing, not aging. These might include Beaujolais, Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc or Pinot Gris.

Recommendations from JJ Buckley Fine Wines: The 10 Best Wines to Age

What wines age the best? Here are our 10 recommendations for some great wines to age.

Sauternes - Vintages 2011, 2009, 2001

Other notable wines/producers:

d'Yquem or Suduiraut in any of these vintages

Port - Vintages 2016, 2011, 2007, 2003

Other notable wines/producers:

Quinta do Noval Nacional, Dow, or Graham in any of these vintages

Top classified growth Bordeaux from a great vintage - 2010, 2009, 2005, 2000

Other notable wines/producers:

First Growths (Lafite, Mouton, Latour, Haut Brion, Margaux) or top Right Bank wines (Petrus, Cheval Blanc) in any of these vintages

Grand Cru Burgundy from a top vintage - 2015, 2012, 2010

Other notable wines/producers:

Domaine de la Romanee Conti (DRC), Armand Rousseau, Leroy, Coche-Dury, Jayer in any of these vintages

Barolo - Vintages 2013, 2010, 2008, 2006

2008 Roberto Voerzio Barolo Riserva Fossati Case Nere [Nebbiolo], 750ML

Other notable wines/producers:

Giacomo Conterno Barolo Riserva Monfortino, Gaja (Sori Tildin, Sori San Lorenzo), Giuseppe Mascarello Barolo, Bruno Giacosa Barolo Riserva Rocche del Falletto in any vintage

German Riesling from a top vintage or producer - 2015, 2009, 2007, 2005, 2001

Other notable wines/producers:

Top scoring efforts from Keller (G Max), Egon Muller, JJ Prum, Donnhoff

For assistance in selecting high-quality wines to age in you collection, feel free to reach out to our wine experts at JJ Buckley Fine Wines.