In our professional wine lives as retailers and critics, it’s always safer to underestimate the aging ability of a wine. You can look pretty bad if you say a wine will last 15 years and is undrinkable and out of sorts at 5. But you can appear a hero if you predict a wine will last 5-6 years and 15 years later it is going strong. The theory is that the longer a wine takes to get to maturity, the longevity grows exponentially, rather than the one-third growing, one-third at peak and one-third in decline. That’s why clarets with 50 years of age can appear to last another 50!
My usual drinking window for a decent New Zealand Pinot Noir is 5-6+ years, maybe a little more being generous. So it was a great opportunity to see how well the Misha’s Vineyard ‘High Note’ and reserve-style ‘Verismo’ Central Otago Pinot Noirs from 2008 would be with a decade of age on them. Some Pinot Noir wine was made in 2007 – the first crop off the vines. It was appropriately called ‘The Audition’. Owner Misha Wilkinson is from a musical, dance and stage background, which explains the names of the wines.
The 2008 Misha’s Vineyard ‘High Note’ Central Otago Pinot Noir was showing a little garnet now. Surprisingly, it had lovely fruitiness with the savoury secondary dried herb and undergrowth notes somewhat in the background. Don’t get me wrong, it certainly had aged characters, but the tannins were still finely firm, and the mouthfeel fresh. An elegant wine, quite velvety, and in no hurry to drink up. Another 5+ years easily ahead of it, maybe more?
The 2008 Misha’s Vineyard ‘Verismo’ Central Otago Pinot Noir was a barrel selection wine. Clearly picked for fruit richness, with power and structure. The wine has retained those elements, with some savoury undergrowth development. But still sweet-fruited, and with tannins to resolve. The flavours riper and also some more oak. This could go another 10 years for sure.
Both wines were showing the benefits of increased complexity with bottle-age. Neither had gone past tjheir best, and were drinking on their plateaux. Delicious, and clearly my usual preditions of aging ability were on the very safe side!