If there is a downside to tasting so many new releases, it is that they are, well, new. While many wines – red and white – are intended for early drinking, especially those at the lower end, higher-quality wines will almost always improve with age. The point was driven home to me again the other night when, after opening a newly released red from France, I had a yearning for something with a few years of bottle age.
After a quick search of my home wine collection, I pulled a Spanish red from the rack. It was from the Ribera del Duero region -- Prado Rey’s 1999 Reserva, which is 95 percent tinto fino (tempranillo), three percent cabernet sauvignon and two percent merlot. As I recall, this wine didn’t leave much of an impression when I tasted it on release four or five years ago. But now, a decade into its life, it had started to come into its own. The fruit, a combination of dried red berries and fig, was joined by an appealing earthy rusticity and a backdrop of muted cedar. Still quite tannic, it had several more years to go before reaching its prime. But this taste, in midlife, foreshadowed even better things to come. Wine, indeed, is one of the things in life that improves with age.