Red drinkers need to read this: Ageing Whites

I’ve been a card-carrying member of the aged white cult my entire career. There’s not many of us but we’re there, lurking amongst the shadows at auctions snapping up aged rieslings and semillons well below what they’re worth or fumbling around in quit barrels at independent wine shops or bottloes attached to country pubs. What on Earth drives us? I can’t speak for my brothers and sisters in this bizarre cult except to tell my own story which thankfully started early in my career as a wine merchant in the United Kingdom. On this occasion, I was in Bordeaux for Vin Expo ’93, at the time the world’s biggest gathering of wine producers showing their wares to would be buyers. On the second night, my desperate posse descended on a restaurant at 10pm and I was sent away to the wine shop to nd something “interesting, white, not too expensive but make sure it’s the best thing since...” Yeah, okay, we’ve all had that brief before!

In there, I found a remarkable looking white wine, a 1964 Bordeaux Blanc, light gold in colour with level into the neck. When I worked it back to Aussie dollars it seemed like a bargain but I wanted to be sure. The merchant rolled his eyes and said “follow me”.

We walked a little way down an alley way and found an old man, well dressed in a crumpled, off white linen jacket and pants. The merchant showed him the bottle and for a moment he re ected on the label, mumbled a paragraph and handed it back. The merchant then turned to me and said,“he says it started raining in this vineyard on October 8 that year but fortunately they had harvested two days prior, not precisely when they wanted to, but they knew it was going to be a wet year and there would be problems - this should be fine”.

Without hesitation, I purchased all three bottles and took the rst one back to the table. This was amazing, still showing some grassiness but the palate was full of honey, lime and lemon zest with a clean, longnish... 29 years old? Just amazing. I have since been a lover of well-aged whites and have only been able to replicate similar experiences in Australia through riesling and semillon... I say to red-only drinkers, wake up and taste these wines! They really are red-drinker whites, full of body and complexity and unlike pinot noir, much less expensive a journey.

Drop me a line, I have several to recommend for ageing and there’s associate membership to the cult on offer... phil.manser@winedirect.com.au or 1800 649 463.