Conditions in cellars (aka spare bedrooms and hall cupboards) vary enormously and have a marked effect on the life of wine, with Pinot Noir being particularly vulnerable. Personal preferences and acquired tastes come into play too; not everyone is as wild about the savoury, gamey, forest-floor aromas of gloriously developed Pinot Noir as we are. If you prefer yours in the lovely ripe plum and cherry spectrum, drink when young (the wine, that is). Wines often 'tunnel' at around 2 years of age at which point they lose the vivacity and fruit power of young wines but have not yet developed the treasured, savoury characters of bottle development. A kind of vinous 'no man's land'.
Choose a cool dark place with minimum temperature fluctuations. A winter/summer variation of 12°C/15°C is ideal, but a range of 8°C to 20°C is acceptable. Daily temperature fluctuations are very bad news if you are a wine. Ideal serving temperature for Pinot Noir is 16°C to 17°C in summer and 17°C to 19°C in winter. Ask your waiter (politely :) for an ice bucket if the wine does not arrive at your table close to cellar temperature...it's well worth it. Relish the layers of flavour and aroma that unfold as the wine slowly warms in the glass...
Quick Guide for Ata Rangi Pinot Noir Vintages. (* Based on cool and consistent cellar conditions). This is not a quality rating but a guide to cellaring potential. We find that the wines we enjoy as younger wines are not always the wines that achieve grace with longevity.
|1990, 1991, 1994, 1998,
2003, 2005, 2006, 2007,
2009, 2010, 2011, 2013
|10 to 15 years from vintage on the label *|
|1996, 1999, 2000, 2001,
|7 to 12 years from vintage on the label *|
|1995, 1997, 2002||5 to 10 years from vintage on the label *|
|1992, 1993||Past it, sadly (very cool Pinatubo years) *|
Lastly, a note on SCREWCAPS. Please take care to protect the very top of the bottle from knocks, as this is where the seal is - a special liner that sits snugly inside the circular top of the screwcap.You can store the wine upright or lying down, it's not critical with screwcaps. In our experience these closures are a vastly better solution than cork for our style of wines. We changed over from cork in 2002, but have bottled trial quantities each way every year since. Most recently (Oct '11) we opened one cork-closed Pinot 2002 and one under screwcap for two Master Sommeliers from California. Presented blind to them and to our team, the difference in bottle development was almost indiscernable. Both were in excellent condition and nearing peak drinking. Everyone voted for the 2002 under screwcap, which showed just a little more freshness. Fortunately this was a good cork which, since no two are identical, can never be taken for granted!