"Wine gets better with age," is a saying that you may hear often, but as any sommelier or wine expert will tell you, not all wines are meant to be aged. Often, the ones that age well are fine wines, which are rare, expensive and have investment value. However, purely from the standpoint of wine, there exists a realm of affordable gems that only improve with age.

Some wines age beautifully with time (Source: Roland Telegdi, Unsplash)

What makes a wine age-worthy?

Some key attributes of wine contribute to its ability to mature gracefully over time. One critical factor is acidity, as wines with high acidity age better. Similarly, tannin-rich wines extracted from grape skins, seeds, and stems have a dry texture known as astringency. Tannins act as a natural preservative that evolves with age. As the wine ages, harsh tannins get smooth. The astringency turns into a more pleasant mouthfeel. Oak barrel aging improves stability even more by allowing for constant micro-oxygenation. Another factor is sugar concentration, which preserves dessert wines known for their longevity. Last but not least, high-quality grapes are essential. Perfectly matured, well-balanced grapes have a balance of acidity, sugar level, tannin and flavor intensity that lay the foundation for a wine to be beautifully aged. Acidity, tannins, taste intensity, and sugar content interact with one another to determine a wine's potential to evolve over time.

Affordable wines that age well

1. Chenin Blanc from Loire Valley

Chenin Blanc is the star of Loire Valley, a white wine that boasts incredible versatility. From bone-dry to lusciously sweet, it covers the entire spectrum. Whether it's a refreshing, fruity dry wine from Touraine, an oak-aged, oxidative style Savennieres, an off-dry Vouvray or a voluptuous Quarts-de-Chaume. Its acidity and fruit-forwardness make it a perfect candidate for aging.

Average Price: $20 - $40

Why It's Age-worthy: Chenin Blanc's natural acidity and complex flavors evolve gracefully over time, transforming from vibrant citrus and stone fruit notes to richer honeyed flavors.

What to Expect When Aged: Chenin Blanc undergoes a dramatic change as it ages. The initial zesty fruit characters mellow into flavors of baked apples, dried apricots, honeycomb, beeswax, and a hint of nuttiness, making it a true complex enjoyment.

2. Riesling from Germany

Rieslings from Germany are one of the world's longest-living white wines. They have remarkable age potential, from a bone-dry, light-bodied Mosel to a rounder Rheingau. Of course, some renowned labels are among the most expensive white wines in the world, there are a number of well-made, affordable Rieslings that can age easily for decades.

Average Price: $25 - $50

Why It's Age-worthy: The high acidity of Riesling serves as a natural preservative and allows it to age elegantly for many years.

What to Expect When Aged: The initial floral and citrusy aromas transform into layers of petrol, honey, and dried fruit. Aged Riesling offers a racy, delicate and elegant character.

3. Gruner Veltliner from Austria

Gruner Veltliner is a white wine primarily from Austria known for its peppery spice and bright acidity. It flourishes in a variety of styles, from light and crisp to rich and full-bodied, all of which have exceptional aging potential.

Average Price: $20 - $35

Why It's Age-worthy: The acidity and intrinsic structure of Gruner Veltliner create a firm foundation for aging. The aromatic richness of the wine deepens with age, resulting in a nuanced and fascinating profile.

What to Expect When Aged: With aging, Gruner Veltliner evolves from zesty green apple and white pepper notes to more mature flavors of dried herbs, stone fruit, and even a hint of nutmeg.

4. Aglianico from Southern Italy

Aglianico, a king in Southern Italy, is recognized for its robust tannins and rich fruit aromas. Because of its aging potential, it is frequently compared to Nebbiolo. The famous Taurasi made from Aglianico, is often referred to as the “Barolo of the South”.

Average Price: $25 - $40

Why It's Age-worthy: Aglianico's firm tannins and high acidity allow it to evolve pleasantly. The tannins soften over time, and the flavors become more complex.

What to Expect When Aged: The initial dark fruit and spicy notes evolve into more nuanced, tertiary flavors of leather, tobacco, and earthiness, all while preserving a wonderful freshness.

5. Douro Valley Blend from Portugal

The red blends of the Douro Valley combine traditional Portuguese grape varieties like Touriga Nacional, resulting in rich and strong wines that survive the test of time.

Average Price: $20 - $35

Why It's Age-worthy: These wines are made with aging in mind. The robust characteristics of grape varieties and the region's winemaking traditions by using extended oak aging contribute to the wine's aging potential.

What to Expect When Aged: The tastes of aged Douro blends range from dark fruit and cocoa to notes of dried flowers and spice. The structure of the wine gets more refined, providing a pleasant experience.

6. Cahors

Cahors, a red wine from France's Southwest region, made primarily from Malbec grapes, is often referred to as "Black Wine" due to its intense color and rich, dark fruit flavors.

Average Price: $15 - $25

Why It's Age-worthy: Cahors is a superb candidate for maturing due to its tannic backbone and rich concentration of flavors. The tannins soften with age and the taste becomes more complex and approachable.

What to Expect When Aged: Cahors matures into a more refined version of itself. The intense black fruit notes become more nuanced, accompanied by flavors of tobacco, cedar, and earthiness, making it a great treat for mature red wine lovers.

Exceptional wines with aging potential do not need to have an expensive price tag. These handpicked alternatives provide great value, maturing into intriguing and sophisticated versions as they mature. So, whether you're a novice wine lover or an experienced collector, these wines are worth waiting for and the space of your wine cellar.

Cheers from the VinoVoss Wine Team!

Sylvia Ba

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