Riesling can age decades, as numerous examples from all over the wold show. We’re a little less confident in New Zealand, as our wines tend to be precocious, though some bottlings of Riesling can seem to go well over the 10 year mark. I’ve tasted some 15-20 years old that are still extremely good, but three decades may be pushing it? Some people who keep cellars of New Zealand wines report that there are many examples of all sorts of varieties and styles that can keep very well, well into the three decade mark and beyond.
So we approached the 1986 Montana Marlborough Rhine Riesling with both a sense of positive anticipation as well as trepidation. There was little ullage, though we could see it was more orange in colour through the green glass. We chose the two pronged ‘Ah So’ cork extractor in case the cork was fragile. It came out with a little more effort than expected, as it was still firm, and not fully soaked. On pouring, it was indeed orange, but with clarity. No madeirisation, and no real oxidation, though there were oxidative nuances. Fully developed and beyond its best for sure, but still fruity, without being dried out and skeletal. Medium in sweetness, with flavours of caramel, honey, apples, toast, and with burnished florals. It was appealing, quite wondrously so, considering our trepidation. Broad, dense and flabbyish in flavour, the acidity kept it alive and lively in mouthfeel. Sure the flavours were tending unctuous in the more negative way, but you could make allowances. SWMBO was impressed, and we all enjoyed tasting and dinking it. The wine didn’t fade much in the glass at all, though we tired of drinking a tired wine.