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April 5, 2024
How Long Can You Keep Saint-Émilion Wines ?

These rich, complex wines, endowed with subtle tannins, can age gracefully for 15 to 20 years or even longer. Factors like winery, vintage quality and storage conditions play a significant role in this longevity, and we're about to deep-dive into this fascinating subject to unravel the intricacies that contribute to their enduring appeal.

How Long Should I Keep a Saint-Émilion? Why Age Matters

With time, aromas and flavours tend to develop themselves differently and sometimes soften (like tannins) which result in a even more agreeable experience for the wine taster.

One should wait at least 7 years for standard Saint-Émilion wines, but a high-quality bottle from a Grand Cru can age gracefully for 15 to 20 years, sometimes even longer.

The Basics of Ageing

"The great vintages live for decades," opines James Suckling, a name that resounds in the wine circles for his expertise. Indeed, Saint-Émilion wines are born with the gift of longevity, but they aren't immortal. With optimal storage conditions—think constant temperature (between 12 and 15°, according to the Saint-Émilion wine Syndicate), adequate humidity, and a life undisturbed in a horizontal position—a high-quality bottle can age gracefully for 15 to 20 years, sometimes even longer.

The Elegance of Subtle Tannins

In the words of Emile Peynaud, one of the most influential oenologists, Saint-Émilion wines are "the most Burgundy-like wines in Bordeaux." This is particularly due to their subtle tannins, which impart a level of softness and subtlety to the wine. These tannins age exceptionally well, making Saint-Émilion wines not only enduring but also increasingly complex and gratifying as time passes.

The Art of Decanting

But what happens when you decide it’s finally time to uncork that cherished bottle? "Decanting is a ritual that elevates the experience of drinking older wines," says wine expert Jancis Robinson. From a more down to earth perspective, one can see that a lot of scientific research on how time affects tannins (Luis A. Berrueta et. al, Lingmin Dai) and on how tannic wines like Saint-Émilion ones can age has already been done. As Saint-Émilion wines age, sediments develop, and decanting becomes an essential step to separate the wine from its sediments, ensuring that every sip is as exquisite as the vineyards the grapes were plucked from.

Time adds mystique to a bottle of Saint-Émilion, each year imbuing it with nuanced changes that deepen its character, enrich its flavors, and elevate its status from a mere beverage to an experience of aristocratic elegance. So how long can you keep a bottle of Saint-Émilion wine? The answer, much like the wine itself, is complex and layered but always depends on the quality of the wine during it's young age. This being said, Bordeaux wines are famous for their longevity and we, at Château du Rocher, are keen on proposing a contemporary approach to reserve wines, as we do not want our oak barrels or tannins to have a too strong impact on the final flavours throughout the years.

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