Have a 2007 French rouge or a 2010 West Coast U.S. red in your cellar? Generally speaking, now may be the ideal time to pop them open. If you are considering a special bottle for holidays or gift giving, here are some regions in France and the U.S. (for starters) that produce wines which are generally hitting peak right around now.
I’ve combed through a few of the most-consulted vintage drinking guides to come up with a suggested range. Several are available online for free, including French Wine Vintage Chart & Harvest Reports by Andrew Jefford for the Wine Scholar Guild, Vintage Charts from Wine Spectator, The Official 2019 Wine Vintage Chart by Wine Enthusiast and The Wine Advocate Vintage Guide.
Here’s the thing: there is no magically right time to open a certain bottle, but the track record of certain wine categories helps build a framework. Aging wine is a concept that includes a bit of science and a bit of preference. Preference is king, but it helps to have a place to start, particularly if your experience tasting aged wines hasn’t been keenly tuned. Yet.
To guide your quest to source a bottle—if there isn’t one saved up in your cellar or secret wine closet—I’ve located a recommended and available (at the time of writing) bottle in the range.
Not that waiting until next year will be too late, but why not use the end of a decade to bolster a little bottle opening fun?
Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon | 2006 – 2012 | Spottswoode Lyndenhurst St. Helena Cabernet Sauvignon 2012
Willamette Valley Pinot Noir | 2008 – 2011 | Ponzi Abetina 2 Pinot Noir 2011
Sonoma County Pinot Noir | 2009 – 2012 | Sojourn Rodgers Creek Vineyard Pinot Noir 2011
Columbia Valley Merlot | 2006 – 2010 | Northstar Merlot 2009
Chablis | 2004 – 2008 | William Fevre Les Preuses Chablis Grand Cru 2006
Burgundy Reds (Côtes de Beaune and Côtes de Nuits) | 2006 and 2007 | Michel Gros Morey-St-Denis 2006
Bordeaux Reds (Left Bank and Right Bank) | 2006 and 2007 | Clos du Marquis 2006
Southern Rhône Reds | 2003 – 2009 | Chateau de Fonsalette 2007
Northern Rhône Reds | 2009 | E. Guigal Côte-Rôtie Brune & Blonde de Guigal 2008
Loire Valley Whites | 2007 and 2008 | Domaine Huet Vouvray ‘Le Mont’ Demi-Sec 2008
Provence Reds | 2009 – 2011 | Villa Baulieu Coteaux d’Aix-en-Provence 2011
Alsace Whites | 2011 – 2012 | Domaine Zind-Humbrecht Clos Saint Urbain Rangen de Thann Grand Cru Pinot Gris 2012
Vintage Champagne | 2005 – 2007 | Delamotte Blanc de Blancs Brut 2007
If the idea of opening a special bottle appeals, consider joining in on Open That Bottle Night (OTBN), celebrated on the last Saturday of February every year. Founded by Dorothy J. Gaiter and John Brecher in 2000, it’s a solid reason to open a special bottle in the company of thousands of worldwide friends.